This chapter will present robust justification for the identity and purpose of each question used in the data collection phase, how they derived from the literature review, and will present the findings from the research conducted by the authors. Key trends and themes will be derived from the findings, which will then be analysed and discussed to generate an appropriate reference to how they support the intended purpose of the research question and literature review.
The sections below will present the data collected from the questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. The data collected from the questionnaire has been broken down into tables and graphs to clearly illustrate the data. For the semi-structured interviews, the audio data collected were analysed through thematic analysis, and therefore have been presented through themes and codes. Codes were generated and refined through iterative analysis to produce consistent themes that were further refined to establish useful and significant findings. These codes were then used to recode the data, which was subsequently clustered to create a thematic structure for the data. All of the data was transcribed, and interviewees were given a pseudonym for anonymity (i.e., R1, R2 etc.).
Questionnaire responses suggest that more than half of respondents preferred shopping online (62.5%) than traditional shopping (47.5%). There were a total of 40 respondents, in which have been broken down by gender and age range (see Table 2
). All of the questions and responses from the questionnaire are shown in Table 3
, Figure 1
and Figure 2
—as well as the respective data collected from using them. For the third question, this was a written comment section and cannot be illustrated through graphs, and therefore, the information and data have been placed in a table and the key words and themes have been highlighted (see Table 4
4.1.1. Question 1: Do You Ever Shop Online with Next?
Questionnaire responses suggest that more than half of respondents preferred shopping online (62.5%). Interestingly, 80% of male respondents showed a higher interest in shopping in retail stores, and the other 20% of male respondents preferred shopping online. Whereas, 84% of female respondents showed a higher interest in shopping online, only a mere 16% preferred shopping in the store.
Taking a look at the above statistics, the data present some very interesting findings that are supported by the literature. There is an influence of customer lifestyle on retail, as it was argued that due to parenting and working, female shoppers found shopping online more convenient and offered them flexibility around commitments; data show that lifestyle does have an impact on retail, which is a negative impact on bricks and mortar stores but a positive for online retailing, which is supported by the ever growing domain of online marketing. As the data from Question 3 show, key words such as convenience, accessibility and time are influences which had been discussed by many researchers and are clearly impacted by how we shop online. What is interesting in these findings is that there is a higher percentage of female online shoppers than male, which again relates back to the fact that due to parenting, female shoppers preferred utilising online channels for ease and of course, being able to shop from home. However, there is very limited research around the reasoning of male’s preference of shopping in store. Reflecting upon the literature review, the gap between women and men online users was significantly close, however, the gap between women and men online shoppers is significantly different from the data collected in this study. This is a potential further research area that has been significantly explored in the second half of this study in the qualitative data research section where semi-structured interviews were conducted and a potential reason for this pattern has been investigated.
4.1.2. Question 2: On a Scale of 1–5 How Would You Rate Your Experience?
Questionnaire responses for the second question suggested that 75.5% of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with their experience. Specifically, 86% of male respondents were satisfied by their experience, and a further 14% felt neutral about their experience. Whereas, 72% of female respondents were satisfied by their experience, 20% felt neutral and the remaining 8% felt unsatisfied or very unsatisfied about their experience. In contrast to more males shopping in store than females, as outlined in Question 1, it is an interesting finding that no males were unsatisfied with their experience at all and the question here may be that due to male’s preferring to shop in store, they have a lower expectation rate of pricing, products and the promotion of them—whereas female shoppers who have mainly shopped online due to commitments such as parenting, have been open to a vast domain of omni channel opportunity and thus this enabled them to have higher expectations from retail stores and the quality and pricing of product in front of them.
However, with no male respondents unsatisfied with their experience at all, this is also a potential research area for future study and has also been explored through the semi-structured interviews in this study. To investigate this question in more detail, it has been supported by Question 3: ‘Please explain why you gave your experience that rating’, as it breaks down key words to each individual experience and demographic.
4.1.3. Question 3: Please Explain Why You Gave Your Experience that Rating?
In this section of the questionnaire, respondents were given a contents box to describe and explain why they gave their experience a specific rating. In order to present this data, thematic analysis would be too in depth, therefore, key words have been extracted from the responses and grouped into a table which is outlined in Table 3
. The purpose of asking this question was to ensure which method the customer used in their shopping experience and as not all respondents would want to engage in the semi-structured interview, gaining an insight into which method they used and why they rated it the level they did could provide this research with some insights that may have been missed if the whole questionnaire was just a tick box exercise.
From the collected data, it was apparent that a lot of respondents highlighted ‘convenience’ as the main reason for being satisfied with their shopping experience. However, what is very interesting in this finding is that when referring back to the literature, which states that male internet users were close to the same amount of female users, this evidently was not the case in regards to this study—as 80% of males preferred shopping in store and the main reason around this was for experience, fitting rooms, getting opinions from staff and trying on options. Thus, maybe due to the fact websites such as Missguided and Boohoo only deliver online and do not have retail stores, which has maybe shifted females perspective on shopping and inclined their preference to shop online with the convenience of your own home. Furthermore, from these findings it was interesting to note that key words such as ‘try before you buy’, ‘try on’ or ‘experience’ and ‘browsing with friends’ appeared to be an influence for people to hold an inclination to shop in store, preferably with males who were very satisfied with their experience—interestingly, this relates back to Question 2 where there were no unsatisfied males within the responses collected. It is apparent that male shoppers prefer shopping in store and females prefer shopping online for many reasons, and this question has highlighted a lot of findings that significantly highlight this case.
4.2. Semi-Structured Interview
In the following section, the authors will explore in more depth the key reasoning and influences of respondents’ intentions when shopping through their preferred channel.
Out of the 40 respondents of the questionnaire, 7 were willing to take part in the semi-structured interview (5 female and 2 male). Each interview took around 10–15 min and in total resulted in 105 min of audio data, and observational notes were also taken as assistance. All interviews were transcribed, and all 7 transcripts were selected as the most relevant. Each interviewee has been given a pseudonym for anonymity (i.e., R1, R2 etc.). Interviewees’ quotes will also be referenced to in the findings below, and interviewees will be referred to through their pseudonyms.
In order to narrow down and pinpoint the specific findings from the data collected, a five-phase thematic analysis was conducted in order to identify coherent themes within the data from the semi-structured interviews (Braun and Clarke 2006
), these can be found below.
4.2.1. Theme A: The Lifestyle Influence on Shopping
When analysing the data, it was found that a significant amount of interviewees noted a sense of lifestyle influence on their preferred shopping method and when discussing why they preferred using the method of shopping online, associated words such as ‘convenience’, ‘tiredness’, ‘busy’, ‘save time’ or lack of product were brought up in their responses. Take R1 for example:
‘…getting time to come in and browse or try things on around uni is quite difficult…. Shopping online is more accessible for me as it is at my fingertips.’
Saving time or not having time was also expressed by another respondent, R3, who stated:
‘I work offshore on the rigs, I’m 7 days offshore and 2 days on shore. So being able to browse while I’m away is really convenient for me as I don’t have a lot of spare time to shop.’
Evidently, a lot of interviews expressed that due to lifestyle or time restrictions such as work or educational needs, shopping online is more convenient and accessible. However, some stated that stores lacked satisfactory sizing ranges for smaller or larger people. In R2’s words:
‘I hate trailing around stores where I know I can’t get anything in my size. Shopping online gives me the opportunity to browse a lot of options which come in petite and small sizing.’
Furthermore, R4 stated that as a parent, shopping in store is quite inconvenient due to being a parent:
‘So, as you can tell I have 2 children…Coming into a shop like this is really inconvenient.’
A further inconvenience was also expressed by R5:
‘Due to my wife’s disability, shopping in store is really, really inconvenient for her due to blindness. Hence why I am collecting her online purchases today. Often she cannot search for items, and I can’t always be here, so she feels bad for bothering staff, and useless, and in honesty, she thinks she is a nuisance.’
R4 further explains that shopping online creates higher levels of satisfaction, allows for ‘freedom’ and is more convenient:
‘Freedom! I can explore so many options at home while I’m in bed, or when they’re in bed….. It is so convenient for new mothers or full-time mothers to shop online. It saves time, travelling inconveniences, like setting up the push chair while keeping the other one quiet. I can shop and not leave my house. This is what is really satisfying with my experience.’
Additionally, R4 continues to express that shopping online has increased satisfaction levels significantly:
‘Shopping online increased my satisfaction massively. Retail websites like Next have thousands of options to browse from. And I don’t even need to come into store to shop from the sale which is a massive bonus!’
These are interesting findings, as it would appear that many of the interviewees struggled to find time to shop or found it ‘inconvenient’ to shop in store due to parenting, education, work schedules and even disabilities. A few other interviewees stated that due to their body stature, purchasing goods from stores is quite difficult, and therefore they resort to shopping online where the product is more diverse and broken down into sections like petite or plus size.
One of the most significant findings was from an interviewee who states their partner preferred shopping online due to their disability. Thus, perhaps suggesting that shopping online increasing satisfaction levels due to avoiding inconveniences, having a hassle-free shopping experience and having a diverse range of products to shop from and even having more usability and access for those with disabilities.
4.2.2. Theme B: The Impact of Disability on the Shopping Experience
It was mentioned by 2 interviewees that due to their disability, their shopping experience was impacted significantly due to a plethora of reasons. Thus, this is why they highlighted their preferred method as shopping online. A few of the key words pulled from their transcripts were ‘usability’, ‘blindness’ and ‘access’.
One interviewee, R5, highlighted that due to his wife being blind, it was extremely difficult and near impossible for her to shop in store. Therefore, she preferred shopping with her husband at home on the website as he could narrow the search down by her favourite colours and style, in R5’s words:
‘My wife prefers for me to do her shopping for her, online. I can read what I see to her, express my opinions and let her know the colours, looks and fabrics. All of which she cannot do when shopping by herself.’
This emphasises how little current retailers have focused on delivering online and offline services for people who suffer from blindness for example.
Furthermore, R6 states that shopping in store is difficult due to store layouts and heights of merchandise:
‘To be honest, I never shop in store. Today is an off chance as I am collecting a parcel (laughs)… The reason I don’t shop in store is due to my disability. It is difficult for me to reach some merchandise as they’re placed too high, and trying clothes on is extremely inconvenient for me.’
R6 goes onto discuss that due to being in a wheelchair, navigating around departments and trying to browse is difficult:
‘I find it really difficult to move around departments. Sometimes the fixtures are too narrow for me to get through, and when at the checkout I can’t even reach the card machine. It’s quite embarrassing that I need a lot of help just to purchase a pair of shoes or pants.’
This was also expressed by R5 who stated:
‘My wife finds it hard to navigate around stores alone. They are a lot of fixtures, which makes weaving in and out tiring and she can’t browse properly. Often she doesn’t even know is she is in the right department.’
Both interviewees provided this research with some crucial findings that could potentially strengthen the use of online shopping and how satisfaction levels could be increased from it. Due to these reasons of not wanting to shop in store, they prefer to shop online. However, shopping online is fine if you do not have sight restrictions, however in R6’s case, that is impossible. Therefore, incorporating more functions and usability for disabled users is a potentially strong direction in which retailers need to investigate in order to allow for online satisfaction levels to be increased.
4.2.3. Theme C: Incorporating Individual Preferences to Increase Customer Satisfaction Levels
Furthermore, from the third question of the semi-structured interview ‘Which functions or features of this channel did you not prefer?’, many interviews expressed what they did not like, and many stated if the retailer’s website could incorporate some of these functions, they would have higher satisfaction levels as this would permanently be their channel of use.
Firstly, R3 stated that:
‘More personalisation and online support. As I cannot try things on while off shore, it’s really hard to decide what to purchase because once I get home and don’t like it, I have wasted my time considerably.’
Additionally, R3 also discussed how not being able to approach members of staff while shopping online is a potential limitation to increasing customer satisfaction levels, therefore support such as online chat or even 3D modelling with personal characteristics could allow for satisfaction levels to be increased as the customer would not need to come into store. This was mentioned by many participants, for example R2; R3 and R4:
‘Not being able to try items on. Yes the website gives information on measurements and sizing, but how accurate can these be?’
‘Also, I can’t approach a member of staff online like I can in store. For example making an outfit and trying it on.’
‘Being able to see how clothes look for disabled people, like if they’re in a wheel chair would be amazing. Not all clothing, just some. Yes, they’re displaying them for the majority of people, but I do feel like clothes look different per person.’
Thus, 3D modelling or virtual reality (VR) shopping could be a potential area that would improve customer satisfaction. In R1’s words:
‘My needs could be satisfied more if I could tailor my outfits to my specific body shape and measurements such as height and weight, like my own personal data. I could dress myself virtually, and get an overview of what potential outfits could look like. That would be amazing.’
This was also supported by R3 who stated:
‘More personalisation and online support or communication with other customers on their purchases, to understand the quality and what the real product is like.’
Furthermore, it was also suggested by interviewees that Next’s website provided customers with a communication platform. Therefore, they could discuss clothing and purchases with other customers. In R7’s words:
‘Coming from China, we had a lot of retailers who enabled communication based interactions online. This let us communicate with existing buyers on items we wanted to buy but were hindered due to worries of quality or usability.’
R7 went onto state how a communication forum would increase satisfaction massively:
‘I would prefer if I could communicate, then I would be more satisfied with what I am getting as I can kind of assess what I am getting before I get it, you know what I mean?’
This is an extremely interesting finding which could massively increase the satisfaction levels of customers. Referring back to the literature in Section 2.4
The importance of customer satisfaction, it was illustrated that many websites offer a feedback section for customers. However, being able to respond to these comments to gain a further understanding of what the product is like, could massively increase customer satisfaction levels.