Digital Democracy

A blog for the course New Media and a Democratic Society

Shopping: More Social Than You Might Think

Posted by clocke22 on October 3, 2010

My three subjects are my friend Alana, my mother, and my sister.  They all live in Florida.

1. When was the last time you purchased something online?  What was it?

Alana:  Two weeks ago, tickets to Broadway musical Wicked.

Lisa:  Six months ago.  A movie from Amazon.

Mom:  One year ago – clothes from Kohls.

2.  Was your last online purchase a positive experience? Why or Why not?

Alana: Yes.  Very positive.  I got the best deal from all of the other places I checked.  And it was easy.

Lisa:  Yes.  “It was quick, easy and cheap.” 

Mom: Yes.  Didn’t have to go to the store, it was easier.  All her information was already stored so was easy.

3.  Have you ever had any problems with buying things online?

Alana:  I don’t do a lot, but I’ve never had a problem.

Lisa: Yes.  Bought clothes online that didn’t fit, had to return and it was a hassle.

Mom:  “Actually,” no.

4.  What motivates you to buy something online rather than in the store?

Alana:  It’s just easier.  You don’t have to leave your house; they ship it to you and you don’t have to go anywhere.

Lisa:  It is easier to find items online.

Mom:  The distance between the store and the house is too far (most shopping is an hour away).

5.  Do you assess a site’s credibility before buying?  If so, how?

Alana:  Yes.  Look for references, see what people say about it on user reviews.

Lisa:  Have bought from “off sites” didn’t know much about; no, doesn’t check.

Mom:  Looks for security symbol.  If doesn’t know of the site already, not likely to buy anything.

6.  Do you ever worry about the safety of your credit card information?

Alana:  Yes, but not that much.  I figure it’s just as safe as handing it to someone in the store at this point (they could have portable copiers/could take information in person).

Lisa:  Very much.  I fear my credit card and bank account being trust.  Causes to pause and think about getting locally rather than online.

Mom:  Yes.  Sometimes worry if someone gets the card number and makes unauthorized charges.

Mutz concludes that e-commerce can increase general social trust in that it is a risky behavior that, if all goes well, will leave the buyer feeling good about an interaction with a stranger.  This experience will increase the buyer’s overall faith in people.  However, as e-commerce becomes the norm (with equal risks to in-person transactions), this potential will decrease.  Social trust can also drive e-commerce; if other influences increase social trust, people will be more likely to engage in online shopping.  Online shopping, just like joining a club or speed dating, is a social activity, according to Mutz.  The results of my surveys showed that the ease and convenience of online shopping was a big incentive to purchase online.  All had positive experiences and only had reported ever having a negative experience.  Alana, who is also the oldest of my interviewees, said that her concerns about credit card security are equal for both online and in-store purchases, illustrating Mutz’s statement that once the two methods are equally trusted, social trust building will no longer occur.  Two of the three vetted sites for credibility.  Interestingly, the one who did not vet sites was also the most concerned about the security of her credit card information.  I think overall, they show positive experiences, consistent with Mutz’s theory; they also indicate an acceptance of online shopping, which might undermine the value of e-commerce as a builder of social trust.

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12 Responses to “Shopping: More Social Than You Might Think”

  1. Shine Lyui said

    It seems like not too many people in reality have experienced any major safty issues regarding online shopping, at least not in your and my cases, even though all of them seemed to worry about it. And you and I have the same results that none of our interviewees chose to buy online because of “social trust” or anything related to the trustworthiness of others. This kind of implies that self-interest has driven the sellers to become more credible and trustworthy, and people expect them to be trustworthy. It is also hard to imagine that someone would stop shopping online even if they got cheated. So the “circular relationship” mentioned by Mutz still remains in question to me.

  2. clocke22 said

    http://wendyuf.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/online-shopping-all-about-laziness/#comment-43

    http://makeyourself270.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/online-shopping-and-social-trust/#comment-59

    http://tinamoore2222.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/does-online-shopping-make-people-more-trusting/#comment-58

  3. Carol said

    I agree with Shine that even if someone got cheated online, they will still keep buying things from e-shops. My survey results also indicated that purchasing online doesn’t strongly relate to “social trust”. As for myself, if I was cheated online, I would definitely change an online shop and keep buying stuff through internet. Therefore, I think choosing to buy things from certain online store is just like choosing to buy stuff from certain store “in the real world.” It is just the matter of “brand loyalty”.

    • clocke22 said

      Carol,
      Just curious, I noticed your blog url is cwu1122. Is your birthday November 22 or did you just pick those numbers? Just curious, my birthday is 11/22:)

      Also, I agree, we are all going to keep buying online because…that’s how the world works these days. We just become saavier about it.

      • Carol said

        Yes, my birthday is 11/22! Wow, it’s great to find someone who has the same birthday with me in the class:). Is this also the reason why your name is “Clock22”?

      • clocke22 said

        Yep, I use 22 all the time because its my birthday and its easy to remember:) We’ve only got a few more weeks left!

  4. aflaten said

    I found it amusing that you quoted your mom’s response to question 3 with the word “actually” in quotation marks. In conjures up this image of her being slightly incredulous as she said it, as if everyone who has shopped online simply has to have had some sort of disaster occur.

    Ultimately, this idea of social trust being brought forth from online shopping may or may not have merit, but I don’t know if online shopping depends much upon social trust. As demonstrated by several of our survey results, people continue to use online shopping regardless of any trust issues they may have. The enticement of its ease-of-use, cheaper prices, and availability all seem to outweigh the fear of security risks or scams.

  5. I find it interesting that the one who is most worried about their credit card security was the least likely to check out the website before doing business. It is possible, however, that this individual was more nervous about information security as a result of not knowing how to vet the sites they were dealing with. This would play very well into the discussion we had in class about ecommerce being more related to trust in your own ability to not get scammed, and less about social trust.

  6. I think the most interesting thing is that, it seems that people believe in online purchasing system instead of sellers. Your result indicated that people worry about the security of shopping online may also have the same concern about in-store shopping. And my result showed that people who have negative online shopping experiences still purchase online. The experience may destroy their trust toward certain retailer, but not whole online shopping system. This makes me feeling more questionable about the relationships between online shopping and social trust.

  7. A couple of your respondents said that they bought online because it was cheaper and easier. It made me wonder if they still would have bought online if the price in person was the same, or if the ease of not having to go to a store would tip the scales in the favor of the online purchase. It could be worth considering just how much interaction there is between trust and the value we place on our own convenience.

  8. Your survey results are similar to mine. I like your questions better though.

    Having clothes bought online that do not fit seems to be a running theme in our surveys! Most of the people that I have encountered with this problem are women. Do you think this is because women are more likely to buy clothes online or because our sizes seem less standardized?

  9. I’m not sure Mutz said online shopping is a social activity. After all, we do it alone. There are the reviews, I guess, but that’s not much like being in a club, is it?

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