Factors and characteristics that influence consumers’ participation in social commerce
Keywords:Social media, Participation, Social commerce, Electronic commerce, Social networking sites (SNS)
Purpose – The popularity of social networks has created business opportunities to the electronic commerce environment, being recently named as social commerce. The purpose of this paper is to analyze – from the perspective of the consumer – the main factors and characteristics (personal or related to the products bought) that have influenced consumers to participate in social commerce buying, recommending, comparing and sharing information about products and services in online marketplace and communities. Design/methodology/approach – The study is characterized as an exploratory descriptive research, operationalized through a survey, applied to 229 participants of the social network Facebook. The research involves a qualitative stage for identifying potential variables that influence the participation of consumers in social commerce, followed by a quantitative one, including data collection procedures, validation and data analysis. Findings – The results show trust, perceived usefulness and information quality as the factors that most influence consumer participation in social commerce, being trust in the website the main predictor. Concerning the characteristics, the findings also show that more expensive products and products classified as computers and electronics use ratings, recommendations and comments online more intensively than books, travel, household appliances and fashion products. Research limitations/implications – As limitations of the study, the authors highlight the small number of interviews conducted during the qualitative stage, which may have left out other relevant factors of the analysis on consumers’ participation in social commerce. Another limitation refers to the selection of the participants of the study; all members of the social network Facebook are identified by the contact net of the authors – though it has been tried to enlarge this contact list by requesting the respondents to share the questionnaire link with their acquaintances, we should be cautious about the generalization of the results. Originality/value – The study proposes an instrument to identify factors and characteristics that are taken into consideration by the consumers when participating in social commerce. Such a tool can be replicated by firms included in this type of commerce, in order to evaluate the behavior and perception of their customers about their performance in the online environment. This study also highlights trust, information quality and perceived usefulness of the website as the most influencing factors of the consumers’ participation in social commerce. In addition, the authors identified that more expensive products and products classified as computers and electronics seem to use more intensively ratings, recommendations and comments online provided by other people. This fact supports the research literature that (positive or negative) online recommendations influence the consumers purchase behavior, reducing uncertainties about the products and increasing credibility and trust.