Maria del Mar Pàmies
This study examines the topic of waiting on the Internet from a marketing perspective. Although the speed of the Internet has increased notably since its popularization in the 1990s, consumers’ expectations have also increased significantly. This paper reports on a qualitative study of online consumer experiences of waiting on the Internet. This is an important issue because online waiting has been linked to negative business outcomes such as consumer abandonment, lack of trust, interrupted interactivity and negative brand attitudes. The study finds that online waiting does not always involve negative emotional reactions, especially when the wait is followed by the successful completion of the task at hand. Indeed, the reaction to online waiting was often one of resignation and the acceptance of a certain amount of delay. This finding contrasts with the conventional wisdom on waiting in services that making consumers wait for service is negative and should be eliminated. Theoretical explanations are sought for this result which is contradictory to mainstream research. In the specific context of waiting online, this study suggests that companies would be well advised to direct more efforts towards assisting the user to accomplish his/her task online rather than simply speeding up download times.