Interactivity in Ecommerce

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May 18, 2014 by Ozgur Ozden

It is very difficult to decide on a single topic in this module because this is one of the modules i have been waiting for a long time to learn in more details.

The reason for my interest is that i have been working on an E-Commerce C2C oriented site for almost 3 years. After fighting with many freelance coders, we are just about to start the alpha testing these days and i think i will be talking a lot about this particular site.

Laudon & Traver (2013, p.54) describes eight unique properties of e-commerce technology as Ubiquity, Global Reach, Universal Standards, Richness, Interactivity, Information Density, Personalization, and Social technology and I would like to explore Interactivity in more details.


Interactivity:  Liu & Shrum (2002) explains interactivity as “ The degree to which two or more communication parties can act on each other, on the communication medium, and on the messages and the degree to which such influences are synchronized.” Laudon & Traver (2013, p.53) also describes Interactivity as users or consumers can actively participate in the process of adding products to the market and communicating. Sinha, Hearst, & Ivory (2001) describes interactivity as “the way that a site allows the user to do something.  It allows the user to give and receive. Its input/output, as in searches, chat rooms, e-commerce and gaming.”
So very roughly interactivity can be summarized as consumers taking part in the ecommerce system, actively participate and, and use decision support tools which we will be discussing later to tailor their ecommerce experience.
There are many ways to add interactivity to a web or e commerce site. So let us take a look at some of these features as described by Kuk & Yeung (2002)

Push: İnformation related with the website or customer tailored information such as Ads, interests, similar items or special deals can be pushed to the customer to increase business.

Pull: Consumers can interact with the site by pulling the information that they need from the site such as using a basic search box.

Chat Rooms: can be used for connecting with other users, share information on certain products and create an interactive discussion. Amazon and many ecommerce sites are using this feature and customers are actively sharing their experience in the selection process.
Decision Support tools: are set of tools specifically and carefully designed to enrich customer decision making via computer generated systems. According to  Kuk & Yeung (2002) decision tools can be divided into three broad sub category as

1- “What-if Analysis” consumers can change the key parameters and get different results depending on their choice. Such as adding search filter like color, mileage, engine size, horsepower etc… This adds interactivity to the search results.

2- “Comparison Matrix” allows customers to compare different versions of the product and compare technical or specific properties.

3- “Personal Configuration tools” lets user to tailor made their use of the ecommerce site depending on their needs such as adding to favorites, creating a wish list, choosing a custom template or guided shopping.

 

Properly implemented interactivity will increase time spent on the site, maintain higher return rates, scalability, connectivity and at the same time it might lower marketing and operation costs

I believe Interactivity is one of the key features for an ecommerce site  today because consumers are getting very selective and demanding and they would like to see their input in the system instead of using a static non-responsive structure. Development of personalization and customization has more or less has the same reasons and background. Via interactivity consumers are taken away from the steady position and placed into an active status so they can feel as a part of the system.

 

References:

1- Laudon&Traver (2013), E-Commerce 2013 Business.technology.society., 9th edition, Pearson Education Limited
2- Sinha, Hearst, & Ivory (2001),Content or Graphics? An Empirical Analysis of Criteria for Award-Winning Websites,(Online) Available at: http://webtango.berkeley.edu/papers/hfw01/hfw01.htm [Accessed at: 28.2.2014]

3- Kuk & Yeung (2002), Interactivity in E-Commerce, (online) Available at: http://phamtrung.wikispaces.com/file/view/INTERACTIVITY+IN+E-COMMERCE.pdf [Accessed at: 1.3.2014]

4- Liu & Shrum (2002), What Is Interactivity and Is It Always Such a Good Thing? Implications   of Definition, Person, and Situation for the Influence of Interactivity on Advertising   Effectiveness. Journal of Advertising, (online) Available at: http://www.yupingliu.com/files/papers/liu_shrum_interactivity.pdf [Accessed at: 1.3.2014]

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