The adoption of retail electronic commerce: an empirical investigation

Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration

First Advisor's Name

Joyce Elam

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Rajiv Sabherwal

Third Advisor's Name

Ken Murphy

Fourth Advisor's Name

Shaila Miranda

Date of Defense



The purpose of this study was to empirically investigate the adoption of retail electronic commerce (REC). REC is a business transaction which takes place over the Internet between a casual consumer and a firm. The consumer has no long-term relationship with the firm, orders a good or service, and pays with a credit card. To date, most REC applications have not been profitable. To build profitable REC applications a better understanding of the system's users is required.

The research model hypothesizes that the level of REC buying is dependent upon the Buying Characteristics of Internet Use and Search Experience plus the Channel Characteristics of Beliefs About Internet Vendors and Beliefs About Internet Security. The effect of these factors is modified by Time. Additional research questions ask about the different types of REC buyers, the differences between these groups, and how these groups evolved over time.

To answer these research questions I analyzed publically available data collected over a three-year period by the Georgia Institute of Technology Graphics and Visualization Unit over the Internet. Findings indicate the model best predicts Number of Purchases in a future period, and that Buyer Characteristics are most important to this determination. Further, this model is evolving over Time making Buyer Characteristics predict Number of Purchases better in more recent survey administrations. Buyers clustered into five groups based on level of buying and move through various levels and buy increasing Number of Purchases over time.

This is the first large scale research project to investigate the evolution of REC. This implications are significant. Practitioners with casual consumer customers need to deploy a finely tuned REC strategy, understand their buyers, capitalize on the company reputation on the Internet, install an Internet-compatible infrastructure, and web-enable order-entry/inventory/fulfillment/ shipping applications. Researchers might wish to expand on the Buyer Characteristics of the model and/or explore alternative dependent variables. Further, alternative theories such as Population Ecology or Transaction Cost Economics might further illuminate this new I.S. research domain.



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