Conceptualising consumer behaviour in online shopping environments

Catherine Demangeot*, Amanda J. Broderick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - This study seeks to adopt a holistic approach to consider how consumers perceive online shopping environments. The conceptual model proposes that consumers perceive these environments in terms of their sense-making and exploratory potential, and it considers the influence of these on user involvement with the web site, shopping value and intention to revisit. Design/methodology/approach - A survey was administered to 301 respondents after they had shopped on a specific web site for eight minutes. Structural equation modelling was used to validate the measures developed and test the hypothesised model. Findings - Sense-making and exploratory potential are distinct constructs; exploratory potential mediates the relationship between sense-making potential and involvement. Furthermore, involvement is essential in producing shopping value and intention to revisit. Research limitations/implications - The study highlights the importance of the exploratory potential of web sites since sense-making is necessary but not sufficient to involve customers with the content of a site. It reveals that, in spite of sensory limitations and consumers' possibly more instrumental orientation in online contexts, they are still very sensitive to the shopping experience for its own sake. Practical implications - The two concepts of sense-making and exploratory potential and their ten dimensions provide marketers with their own consumer-focused language when discussing the aims of their web site with information systems and design specialists. Originality/value - This study suggests that the distinction between sense-making and exploratory potential is a pertinent and parsimonious organising framework to understand holistically how online shopping environments are perceived and impact on consumers when they shop online.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)878-894
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2007


  • Consumer behaviour
  • Internet shopping
  • Retailing


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