E-tailing: consumers’ perceived risks and coping strategies – a study performed in Potchefstroom, North West Province
Brits, Catharina Carolina
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Consumers find themselves in a digitally sophisticated world in which electronic resources such as the internet simplify lives by providing them with instant information, which in return enables them to make informed decisions. The internet offers a wide range of information, products and services with 24-hour availability. Having the internet available on a variety of devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers, gives consumers access to the advantages it has to offer almost anywhere in the world. In recent years, shopping on the internet, known as e-tailing, has empowered consumers to make purchasing decisions in an online environment at almost any given location and time. Furthermore, the internet offers consumers similar products to those in traditional brick-and-mortar operations. Internationally, buying online is a fast-growing phenomenon, but there are still consumers in South Africa, and more specifically, in North West Province (NWP), who are reluctant to accept this form of purchasing. This study aims to describe the risks consumers in the province, and more specifically, in Potchefstroom, perceive in relation to e-tailing that make them hesitant to embrace the process of making purchasing decisions in an online environment. Consumers’ coping strategies in dealing with these perceived risks will also be explored and described. A qualitative descriptive method was followed, with both purposive and snowball sampling, and clear inclusion criteria to recruit participants who were willing to share their e-tailing experiences. Five focus groups were conducted, with an average of seven participants per session. The information obtained was transcribed and data analysed, revealing four main themes, each comprising a range of categories, codes and sub-codes. The results indicated a variety of reasons why participants preferred making purchasing decisions online. However, reasons why consumers might not use e-tailing also emerged. Prominent perceived risks in the process were identified, as well as the different ways in which participants coped with them. In conclusion, the results of this study confirmed various reasons why consumers hesitated to use e-tailing, and indicated coping strategies to deal with these identified risks. Consumers make use of e-tailing because of the various advantages it offers. This is a form of purchasing that is still emerging in a developing country such as South Africa, and as more consumers become aware of its advantages and are able to make informed decisions, their preference for e-tailing will continue to grow.
- Health Sciences