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Abstract

We investigate consumer preference for online versus offline purchasing of a complex service (home mortgage), across the three stages of purchasing, namely, pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase. Our analysis of data from 300 consumers shows that (1) the offline channel is generally preferred over the online channel across all the stages, and (2) the channel usage intention in a particular stage is moderated by the consumer's Internet experience. Specifically, in both the pre- and post-purchase stages, the usage intention for the online channel is higher when consumers have more favorable Internet experience. In the purchase stage, consumers prefer the offline channel over the online channel, regardless of their Internet experience. Furthermore, we find that the drivers of channel preference are substantially different across the three buying stages due to (in)congruities between channel benefits desired and channel capabilities offered.