Product Category Dependent Consumer Preferences For Online And Offline Shopping Features And Their Influence On Multi-Channel Retail Alliances


Aron M. Levin
Irwin P. Levin
C. Edward Heath


This paper addresses the question of how to combine online and offline services in the most complementary way for different product classes. In a series of surveys conducted for Experiment 1 it was determined that consumers’ preferences for online and offline services differ for different products at different stages of the shopping experience. These differences were accounted for by a model that weights the importance of different attributes for different products and assigns different values to these attributes depending on whether they are better served online or offline. For example, for products like clothing consumers place great value on the ability to touch and inspect the product and thus they prefer offline, bricks-and-mortar services at each stage of the shopping experience. By contrast, for products like computer software consumers place great value on the rapid dissemination of large amounts of information through Internet search, but many are concerned about speedy delivery and no-hassle exchange which leads them to make their final purchases offline. Experiment 2 was a controlled test of a particular marketing strategy for capitalizing on the complementarity of online and offline services: alliances between online and offline brands. Confirming the operation of both assimilation and complementarity effects, it was found that the images of both brands could be improved with such alliances. Other marketing strategies were also discussed.

Published Date: 

August, 2003

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