Online shopping relationship as collaborative decision process
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Online shopping relationship as collaborative decision process :
A focus on online buyer-seller interactions
University of Limoges, France
Institute of Business and Management, CREOP Lab
In this research, it is considered that an online shopping relationship can be observed and analyzed as an online and collaborative decision, where - at least - a seller, a buyer and a website share information, knowledge, know-how, experience, competence and responsibilities. A survey, based on the case of wine shopping online, offers as evidence the crucial nature of socially mediated interactions in e-commerce, whether by telephone or e-mail. Six fundamental types of interactions in this context, together with their origins in terms of the levels of complexity and individual competence required on both sides, are also put forward. So, too, are the goals and forms of intervention and collaboration process in the online shopping relationship, and in the online- buying decision process.
In this research project and implimentation, it is considered that an online shopping relationship can be observed and analyzed as a collaborative decision process, where - at least - a seller, a buyer and a website interact. Therefore, social mediated interactions which contribute to this specific context and make online purchase possible, are of interest. The starting question which has been used to explore online buying decision and this set of social mediated interactions refer to the seller’s role in the online shopping relationship. What “game” are sellers in an Internet selling company playing? What are their roles, given that the selling function is driven by the website? A few years ago, many e-commerce companies had decided to reduce, or even to nullify, the scope of their buyer-seller relationship and thus opportunities of online collaboration and deliberation within the shopping process. This move was followed by the development of customer relationship management (CRM) tools and a subsequent, progressive disappearance of the 'salesman'. E-bay and Amazon - since 2002 - have stopped answering directly any e-mail from their users. On websites, topics such as: “help”; “FAQ1” ; and online questionnaires, have replaced direct contact by telephone, or by e-mail. As a consequence, e-sellers obliged their customers to search for information themselves, or to complete a (not always appropriate) questionnaire. Online collaboration between sellers and buyers decreased and the buyers became more isolated. Even though this might often still be the case for major companies, a growing number of commercial websites have changed their customer relationship strategies: the 'return of the salesman' is to be found in Internet shopping. It is a phenomenon which is evidenced by the presence of telephone numbers on homepages; Internet users are invited to interact directly with the company; the same goes for making 'contact' by e-mail. These companies have developed a real online sales force, charged with the careful management of customer relations. What difference does it make? Better buyer-seller collaboration can be observed? What are the origins, composition, structure, and goal of the buyer-seller interactions in e-commerce? What different forms of interaction are considered, and how are they defined? What is the role and - by the way - the status and the level of collaboration of employees who have to respond to customer enquiries? Do they play the part of a 'salesman' - and/or adviser as decision support - or do they only take orders online? Are they an integral part of the online purchasing process and what is their place within online selling strategy? In order to explore these questions, a survey was conducted – resting on a study of buyer-seller interactions for an online company selling wine. Before the methodology carried out and the survey’s results are shown and discussed, a quick look at the literature is proposed in the next paragraph.
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publicsphereproject and implimentationevents/diac08/proceedings/23.Online_Shopping.Stenger.pdf