The Digital market place provides wider opportunities for consumers and businesses
The digital environment has changed the way consumers and businesses interact and also provided new ways by facilitating access to information with lower cost.
Web provides consumers with much better access to information and sellers than other sales channels. This improved access to information about products, services and prices has been shown to have positive benefits for consumers. Likewise internet has opened new opportunities for firms to reach consumers through new advertising and sales channels and made it easier for firms to bring their products to market, reach new customers and build long term relationships with existing offline customers. Access to content and digital services create numerous advantages due to low marginal costs of distribution. With growing internet penetration growth, opening access to information and content has lead to increased creativity and innovation on the digital horizon.
The consumers” buying behavior has been always a popular marketing topic, extensively studied and debated over the last decades while no contemporary marketing textbook is complete without a chapter dedicated to this subject. The predominant approach, explaining the fundamentals of consumer behavior, describes the consumer buying process as a learning, information processing and decision making activity divided in few major steps:
(1) Problem identification (2) Information search (3) Alternatives evaluation (4) Purchasing decision (5) Post-purchase behavior
Traditional economic theory predicts that consumers are rational consumers who systematically search for and analyse information in the market before making a purchase and seek redress in the event of problems with the purchase. However obtaining and analyzing information may be costly and as a result rational consumers may not search the entire market before making a decision.
Supplier and manufacturer websites, comparison websites, discussion forums and advertisements are all methods consumers use to identify relevant products and services; although search engines play a central role in filtering the immense volume of information and the great majority of consumers use search engines as part of their online purchasing process. For many consumers the internet is almost equivalent to Google but it is also known that consumers do not utilize online search and filtering tools fully and only consider websites that appear among the top search results.
E-commerce is central to the development of the digital market but at the same time may involve additional risks. So it is very important to understand the consumer psyche in the digital environment. The analysis focuses on consumer behavior at the different stages of the purchasing process.
Consumer Online Purchasing Process – Information Access
Improved access to information about products, services and prices has been shown to have positive benefits for consumers, however some consumers may find the volume of information available overwhelming. Supplier, manufacturer and retailer websites, comparison websites, discussion forums and advertisements are all methods consumers use to identify products and services. But search engines are the main tools used by consumers to find online sellers.
This study identifies the main constituents of the online experience or Web experience as being:
* Functionality of the Web site that includes elements dealing with site’s usability & interactivity.
* Psychological elements intended for lowering the customer’s uncertainty.
* Content elements including the aesthetic aspects of the online presentation and marketing mix.
Research on the buying behavior and the factors influencing the decision-making process of online consumers has revealed similarities as well as differences between them and the traditional customers. The uncontrollable factors (external and personal ones) affecting consumer behavior are similar for both types of consumers. The tools however used by traditional and online marketers in order to influence the buying behavior of their customers are not quite the same.