When do online consumers shop in an offline store: the moderating effects of product characteristics
This study serves as an initial attempt to demonstrate empirically how online consumers react to the offline channel extensions (i.e., opening physical stores) of e-tailers. Specifically, we examine how the attributes of offline channels influence consumer intentions to switch to offline channels and how they also lead to incremental demands on online channels. We investigate how these effects vary across highly complex utilitarian and hedonic products. The results of the study indicate that although store openings encourage online consumers to shop there when purchasing highly complex utilitarian products, the addition of offline stores results counterintuitively in incremental patronage of the online channels when consumers shop for highly complex hedonic products. This study validates the guiding role of product characteristics in designing offline channels for e-tailers and suggests that incorporating product type and complexity into the design is likely to contribute to the development of stores tailored to specific consumer segments.
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