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Consumer Decision Making on the Web: A Theoretical Analysis and Research Guidelines

Authors


Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Girish N. Punj, Department of Marketing, School of Business, University of Connecticut, 2100 Hillside Road, Storrs, Connecticut 06269-9013 (Girish.Punj@business.uconn.edu).

ABSTRACT

Recent empirical data on online shopping suggests that consumers have the potential to make better quality decisions while shopping on the web. But whether such potential is being realized by most consumers is an unresolved matter. Hence, the purpose of this research is to understand how (1) certain features of electronic environments have a favorable effect on the abilities of consumers to make better decisions, and (2) identify information-processing strategies that would enable consumers to make better quality decisions while shopping online. A cross-disciplinary theoretical analysis based on constructs drawn from economics (e.g., time costs), computing (e.g., recommendation agents), and psychology (e.g., decision strategies) is conducted to identify factors that potentially influence decision quality in electronic environments. The research is important from a theoretical standpoint because it examines an important aspect of online consumer decision making, namely, the impact of the electronic environment on the capabilities of consumers. It is important from both a managerial and public policy standpoint because the ability of shoppers to make better quality decisions while shopping online is directly related to improving market efficiency and enhancing consumer welfare in electronic markets.

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