Over the last five to six years, positive predictions have been made about the success of business-to-consumer electronic commerce. Businesses invest to sell products on the Internet. Profound changes to consumers' individual and social lives were expected. Yet statistics show that few Internet users have accepted this idea. Only ten percent of Australia's 18 million population has purchased products or services on-line.
The objective of this study is to investigate the factors behind consumers' acceptance of on-line shopping. To attain this research objective, this study extends the technology acceptance model (TAM) and proposes that consumers' acceptance of on-line shopping is influenced by their perceptions and experience. With intention used as a proxy for acceptance, this study examines the following research question: In what ways do experience, perceived risk, self-efficacy, perceived usefulness, and perceived ease of use affect consumers' acceptance of on-line shopping?
The research model that underlies this study proposes that consumers' acceptance of on-line shopping is influenced directly by perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, perceived risk, and experience. Moreover, consumers' perceived usefulness of the technologies is influenced by perceived ease of use and perceived risk. Consumers' perceived ease of use of the technologies in turn is influenced by self-efficacy and experience, whereas perceived risk is influenced by experience. Nine hypotheses were derived from the research model.
An on-line survey was used to examine the overall fit of the model and test the nine hypotheses. A survey instrument was developed specifically for this study. There were a total of 300 submissions. Two duplicate cases were deleted. Thus, 298 cases were used in the final data analysis. Structural equation modeling was used to determine if the model fitted the data, and hypotheses were examined accordingly. Prior to the survey, two focus group discussion sessions were conducted to collect detailed qualitative data about consumers' perceptions of on-line shopping. Sixteen Internet users participated in the sessions. Content analysis was conducted to evaluate the focus group discussion results.
Results of focus group discussions suggest that participants perceived three different sources of risk: technology, vendor, and product. In addition, discussion results show that participants considered on-line shopping to be useful and easy to use. Most participants had high levels of self-efficacy but low levels of intention of using the technologies.
The results of the survey show that the research model fitted the data. Overall, the model accounted for 55 percent of the variance for consumers' acceptance of the technologies. If consumers perceive on-line shopping to be useful, the results suggest that they are more likely to accept them. Moreover, if consumers perceive the technologies to be easy to use, they are more likely to perceive them to be useful. High levels of perceived risk reduce consumers' willingness to accept the technologies and their perceived usefulness of the technologies. Further analysis shows that not all sources of perceived risk have direct influence on consumers' acceptance or perceived usefulness of the technologies. Results highlight the importance of perceived technology risk in affecting consumers' acceptance directly and indirectly. It is interesting to note that while perceived product risk has direct, negative effects on consumers' intentions, it does not affect perceived usefulness. On the other hand, while perceived vendor risk does not directly affect consumers' intentions, it has direct, negative effects on perceived usefulness. The results also show that consumers who have high levels of self-efficacy in using on-line shopping are more likely to perceive the technologies to be easy to use. Moreover, consumers' on-line shopping experience enhances consumers' intention to use and their perceived ease of use of the technologies. With more on-line shopping experience, consumers perceive lower level of risks. Further analyses suggest that experience has significant, direct effects on all three sources of perceived risk. As three sources of perceived risk affect consumers' perceived usefulness and acceptance, consumers are more likely to accept the technologies if they can reduce perceived risk by accumulating more experience.
To summarise, the results of this research show that consumers' intention to use on-line shopping is affected by their experience and perceived usefulness, perceived technology risk, and perceived product risk associated with the technologies. Perceived usefulness in turn is affected by perceived ease of use, perceived technology risk, and perceived vendor risk. Self-efficacy determines how much consumers perceive on-line shopping to be easy to use. Moreover, experience reduces consumers' perceived risk of the technologies. A surprising result from the study is that perceived ease of use has negative instead of positive, direct effects on consumers' acceptance. Further analysis in this study suggests that the negative relation is attributed to the influence of common causes.
The contribution of this study is twofold. Theoretically, by adding three constructs (perceived risk, self-efficacy, and experience) to the technology acceptance model, this study enhances the explanatory power of the model in on-line shopping situations. Apart from confirming the influence of perceived usefulness and experience on consumers' acceptance, this study examines the perceived risk factor thoroughly. It focuses on the source dimensions instead of consequence dimensions of perceived risk. In addition to showing perceived risk has both direct and indirect effects on consumers' acceptance, the results confirm that the new classification of perceived risk is salient, because the sources of perceived risk have different paths of influence. Practically, the results provide useful information that helps Internet vendors align their electronic commerce strategies to cater for consumers' needs. For example, as results show that the technology factor has significant influence on consumers' acceptance of on-line shopping, Internet vendors could effectively reduce consumers' risk perception by advertising their adoption or enhancement of security protocols or promoting alternative payment mechanisms. They could also consider offering incentives to attract inexperienced or less-experienced consumers to use the technologies.