The growth of Internet technology and electronic commerce has not been matched by
theoretically-guided social science research. Clear and well designed consumer research is needed to describe, explain, and predict what will happen to this changing landscape. The primary purpose of this study is to investigate the structure for consumer preferences to make product purchases through three available retail formats - store, catalog, and the Internet.
Conjoint analysis was used to assess the structure of the decision and the importance of the attributes in the decision-making process. The results from this study noticeably show that the structure of the consumer decision-making process was found to be primarily one of choosing the retail format (store, catalog, or Internet) and price of product (set at low, medium or high) desired. The strength of the retail store format suggests that fears that the Internet will take over the retail arena seem, at least at this point in time, overblown and exaggerated. However, there seems to be an identifiable segment of customers that has a preference for the Internet as a retail shopping alternative.
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