This section will outline and discuss the methods adopted for data collection, the recruitment of respondents/participants, and how the data were analysed and address the key findings.
4.4. Questionnaire Findings
The questionnaire had the purpose of collecting data that would enable the researchers to understand the preferred methods and behaviour of consumers. Therefore, the below section has been broken down into subsections to discuss the significance of the collected data.
Questions 1 to 3: Demographics. In order to collect a representational demographic understanding of the respondents, the first three questions aimed at extracting gender, age range, and occupation, enabling a more comprehensive understanding around the general background of further data to come in the following questions and enabling us to pin-point whether age range or gender is an influential factor in consumers’ preferred shopping methods and behaviour. Interestingly, there appeared to be a higher number of female respondents (54% of the responses were female, whereas 46% were male). Additionally, most respondents came from higher education or were students (15% for both, 30% combined), as well as administration (13.8%).
Questions 4 to 9: Preferred Methods and Shopping Behaviour. These questions probed into the preferred methods and shopping behaviours of the respondents. It is worth mentioning that these questions were branched for certain responses.
Question 4: What is your preferred method of shopping? Question 6: When did you last use this method? Questionnaire responses suggest that more than half of respondents preferred shopping online (59%), with the majority doing so in the past few weeks, whereas 41% of the remaining respondents preferred shopping on the high street, with the majority having performed so in the past few weeks (see Table 2
). This is an interesting finding that the majority preferred shopping online, as this falls in line with what was discussed earlier in the literature review, which discussed how, due to impacting factors such as COVID-19, convenience, and saving time, consumers today prefer to shop online. Therefore, to explore this in more depth and grasp as to why the respondents felt this way, the questionnaire asked why they preferred this method and how satisfying their experience was.
Question 5: Why do you prefer this method? This was a branched question in which respondents would answer why they preferred shopping online or on the high street (see Table 3
). Questionnaire responses from Question 5 suggested that there were two main reasons why respondents preferred shopping on the high street, with 30% of respondents preferring the high street due to the social aspects of shopping and a further 30% wanting to see physical items. This is a very interesting finding, considering the two core aspects of live stream retailing are that it enhances consumer engagement through various functionalities such as chat functions, following, subscribing, and gifting; also, that with live stream retailing, consumers are able to see items in real-time, ask questions about them, and see them from a multitude of angles. Therefore, from this point of view, it is very necessary to push forward with the use of live stream retailing to benefit consumers.
Additionally, Question 5 also collected data on why respondents preferred shopping online, in which it was found that 33% preferred doing so due to convenience and a further 31% due to saving time (see Table 3
). These findings are in line with previous studies conducted on why consumers prefer shopping online and provide significant insight into how the online presence is going to be carried forward. To investigate this question in more detail, it has been supported by Question 7, as this investigates the influencing factors that may change consumer behaviour.
Question 7: How satisfying was your last shopping experience? In this section of the questionnaire, respondents were provided with a Likert scale question that ranged from very satisfied to very dissatisfied with their last shopping experience (see Table 4
). Interestingly, from the data, it is apparent the majority of those who shopped on the high street were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their experience. This equated to 66% of respondents for that category. However, on the contrary, the data illustrate that a significant number of respondents who preferred online shopping were somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. This is a very interesting finding that highlights the potential that there is reasoning behind the satisfaction levels of the two different methods of shopping.
Questions 8 and 9: What made your shopping experience satisfying or dissatisfying? (See Table 5
). The questionnaire responses from Question 8 suggest that most online customers prefer shopping online due to convenience, whereas those who prefer shopping physically prefer to do so for the interaction, product range, and customer service. This is an interesting finding as, in comparison to Question 9, it was apparent that a significant number of online consumers were dissatisfied with the level of customer service they received during their experience. This is a very interesting finding that was discussed by researchers within the literature review, and that online consumers found it difficult to shop online due to the lack of social interaction and customer service, for example, McLean and Osei-Frimpong stated that the customer service function is extremely lacking in online commerce and a there was a severe lack of social interaction leaving customers unsatisfied [53
]. It was also found that chatbots were just an automated service that made no contribution to customer satisfaction and, in fact, decreased it, as customers are looking for empathy, responsiveness, assurance, and reliability [53
]. Additionally, when it comes to dissatisfaction with physical retail shopping, Gu et al. and Rao et al. demonstrated that due to COVID-19, the majority of retail stores have implemented restrictions that limit customer satisfaction within stores, which definitely will be an impacting factor in the findings [57
]. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that a lot of respondents also highlighted that shopping online was inconvenient, which is an interesting and new finding.
Questions 10 to 13: Live stream insights. In order to build upon the current consumer experience gathered from the above findings, the questionnaire had a further five questions that investigated the current use of live streaming within retail and if any of the respondents were familiar with it at all. Interestingly, the data from the gathered responses to question 10 suggest that 89.7% of respondents had never experienced live stream retailing, which is quite shocking considering the scale of omnichannel marketing within the UK. Additionally, it was found in question 11 that only 19.5% of respondents had heard of live stream retailing before, whereas a massive 80.5% had never heard of it. To delve further into these statistics, the data were cross-referenced with the respondents’ gender and age (see Table 6
It is apparent from the above data that have been compared in SPSS, it is apparent that more females were aware of live streaming than males, plus the number of females who experienced it was greater than that of male respondents. This is a very interesting finding, as it appears females from a lower age group (18–25) were more experienced in live stream retailing. Furthermore, between Questions 12 and 13, which probed into whether the respondents enjoyed this experience and why, it was found that 88% of the respondents enjoyed their experience, with a breakdown of 50% enjoying this experience because of social interaction, 25% as a result of accessibility, 15% as a result of functionality, and a further 15% as a result of usability (see Figure 6
This is an important finding, as it has enabled the researchers to understand why the respondents were happy with their experiences and implement these into future design suggestions. Additionally, reflecting on the earlier literature review, the themes of social interaction, functionality, and usability prevail through the general findings of consumer preferences when it comes to live stream retailing. Question 14: Would you be interested in taking part in an online workshop? When it came to recruiting participants for the workshops, Question 14 requested respondents to leave their email address if they were interested in taking part in the workshops. There were 10 respondents who were interested in taking part. Overall, the data that have been collected from the questionnaire has provided robust findings into the current behaviour and preferred shopping methods of consumers. Most interestingly, it was found that 59% of respondents preferred shopping online, compared to 41% who preferred shopping physically. Furthermore, it was also found that female respondents were more knowledgeable and experienced in live stream retailing, with 88% of them having enjoyed this experience because of the social aspects and interaction it provided.
4.5. Workshop Findings
The overarching aim of the data collection in the workshops was to gather data that would enable the researchers to investigate and generate an outcome for research objective 2. The workshops had the purpose of collecting data that would enable the researchers to understand user perspectives on live streaming and how it should be adopted, who should use it, and what functionality it should include. The data were analysed through a thematic analysis approach, which is one of the most common forms of analysis in qualitative research—it places importance on examining data and highlighting themes within that data [108
]. To draw out the key themes from the findings, Braun and Clarke’s five-phase approach was utilised, which facilitated the production of insightful themes that were then refined to establish robust findings.
4.5.1. Participatory Design Workshop
In line with the double diamond method, the purpose of this workshop was to involve participants in the decision-making process of how society should adapt live stream retailing and how it is useful. Additionally, this will also involve participants in the democratic decision making of where it can be adopted, how it should be adopted and create discussions around why. The workshop was broken down into six stages (see Figure 7
Participants came from various demographical backgrounds, including students, designers, higher education, government, finance, administration, retail, or retired with an age range of 20–67 years old. Participants’ names were coded, for example, ‘PD4’ to ensure anonymity and confidentiality. The workshop lasted 90 minutes, and data were collected on a Miro board. The session was recorded with participant consent so the researchers could take further observational notes and transcribe the commentary.
4.5.2. PD Workshop Findings: Discover, Explore and Define
Based on the discussions, there were multiple viewpoints given from the participants’ perspectives and experiences.
Theme 1: The impacts of COVID-19. Firstly, workshop participants drew attention to COVID-19 and how this has economically damaged the high street. For example, PD6, who works in retail, gave the following interesting perspective on their perception of live streaming: ‘As someone who has seen the impacts of the pandemic, I have experienced furlough and loss of work. I was worried at the thought of live streaming retailing but looking at its capabilities I think all retailers should use this and use the existing man hours they have to reach customers’. This is an important finding, especially as those in retailing understand what impacts a pandemic has had and how live streaming can facilitate the customers lost while keeping stores open and retaining what little footfall it may have, but instead, shifting manhours into live streaming so at no point will staff be idle.
Theme 2: Business model potential. Secondly, participants discussed why and how they found live stream retailing useful. Key findings were written on sticky notes and placed on a Miro board (see Figure 8
). It was discussed that live streaming appears to be the most beneficial business model to adopt at this moment in time. This was discussed by PD as follows: ‘I think for any business that a live stream retailing may be an innovation that will be popular. Not only could it save on space, but it is extremely beneficial to family-owned business or SME’s!
’ This perspective mirrors that of the aforementioned quote from PD6, and it is extremely insightful to see different perspectives merge, giving a positive outlook on live stream retailing.
Theme 3: Targeting the correct areas. Thirdly, participants discussed who should use live streaming retailing and who will benefit from it. These insights provided an understanding of how such a platform should be developed, who it should be aimed at and define what sort of features and requirements it should have (see Figure 9
There were some discussions around the topic of aiming such a method to smaller businesses. Additionally, it was highlighted that not only would this benefit business owners but also us as a society, mentioned by PD2 as follows: ‘This approach to retailing is like telesales, however it has much more an impact on my satisfaction levels. During the past I have struggled purchasing products while being satisfied and shopping in store become not only a challenge but impossible. Which is why I think live streaming would benefit us as a society as its engaging, it gains our attention and in the end we will be satisfied from not only the product but the experience’.
From the PD workshop, participants discussed how live stream retailing should be utilised. The key findings from this stage were that it should be used in one or more of the following:
This is a crucial finding; the discussion of a ‘plug-in’ is a very fitting perspective on how live streaming could be adopted into an already existing business model. This idea of integrated innovation in entertainment in retail is a complete paradigm shift for the industry, likewise to how omnichannel marketing was over two decades ago.
‘To increase accessibility and inclusivity of retail shopping from a disability, psychological, and preference point of view’
Increasing the accessibility and inclusivity of daily discourse is an area of importance and a constantly changing dimension of how we, as researchers and designers, can facilitate an experience for users. With the adoption of live stream retailing, shopping can be made into a convenience for those with impairments, disabilities, and so on.
This finding is one that is crucial in general, not just from the COVID-19 perspective but also from an economic perspective. In recent years, brick-and-mortar stores have been declining. This is not only a brick-and-mortar store issue, but it is also an online presence and omnichannel marketing issue. However, a live streaming platform has demonstrated consumer reach in China not only for struggling retailers but also for others. Therefore, live stream retailing may facilitate the sustainability of businesses by ensuring they can reach further than their traditional brick-and-mortar stores could.
Overall, the workshop provided insight into the perceptions, recommendations, and future of live stream retailing. However, a key element to the success of such a platform comes with interaction, functionality, and system requirements. When interacting, participants reflected on their experiences with Taobao Live, Twitch, and Amazon live. Some of the reflections were that Taobao lacked the option of language interchangeability, while the interaction of the platform and the navigation were of high quality. However, experiences with Amazon Live presented challenges to the participants, as they found it difficult to navigate and clunky, and while they understood the language, the interaction and experience lacked. Participants found Twitch to be the most user-friendly in terms of interaction, and they generated recommendations on what functions and requirements a live stream platform should have to facilitate smooth interaction (see Figure 10
Overall, the insights and findings gained from the workshop were extremely beneficial for further understanding how potential users of live stream retailing, but more importantly, as citizens from our population understand it from their perspective and how they perceive it, what are their thoughts, how they think it should be used, and who should use it.
4.5.3. Co-Design Workshop
The overarching purpose of this workshop was to involve participants into the design and functionality of the prototype. This workshop will enable the researchers to develop strategic recommendations. Building upon the previous workshop, participants were now familiar with live stream retailing. Therefore, in line with the earlier mentioned double diamond approach, the purpose of this workshop is to develop potential solutions and suggestions, thus the workshop was orchestrated through the following three activities: (1) Map out, discuss and understand the customer journey, through journey mapping; (2) Develop design ideas and suggestions of potential user interface and interaction; (3) Reflect upon iterations made on the paper prototypes and discuss potential change or additions.
4.5.4. Co-Design Workshop Findings: Develop and Deliver
The first stage of the workshop was to generate a user journey map to illustrate a visual story of the customer journey when interacting with this potential innovation to ensure a successful and satisfying experience/interaction [91
]. This has been illustrated in Figure 11
. This step was crucial and provided a detailed understanding of the customer journey. It was interesting to see the topics of satisfaction, social interaction, and purchase intention arise multiple times.
Secondly, the workshop focused on developing the application suggestions. The participants were presented with post-it notes and utilised Miro to create user interfaces to build their ideal user interface (see Figure 12
). The findings from this were interesting considering the participants were all, except one, from non-design backgrounds; however, they knew their preferences as a user and what functionality they wanted. For example, PD4 highlighted that they like the idea of a plug-in application rather than a new application, as follows: ‘I think it would be an amazing addition to existing applications, in which businesses could add to the marketing and sales approach as I would much prefer some sort of plug-in over an additional application
This was an interesting finding that not only complemented the opportunity of live stream retailing but also generated further design strategies on how this may look if developed. Additionally, PD3, a designer, commented on the functionality and importance of interaction, highlighting that having an easily understandable interface was crucial as follows: ‘This method of interacting is fun, but at the end of the day we still want to make a purchase and become satisfised, the idea of integrating purchase options in the application is quite important therefore that element of interacting is needed’.
Understanding this perspective from the participants highlights the importance of having an integrated experience that combines interaction and experience with satisfaction. Therefore, it is imperative that in the design suggestions, this is considered, and a prototype is built off of those three characteristics. Taking this into account, the final stage of the workshop was to reflect upon the generated low-fidelity wireframes and discuss four key areas that will be insightful for the final discussion of this research project and design suggestions (see Figure 13
From the reflection and discussion, there were four key areas. Firstly, participants reflected upon what their ideal shopping experience would look like. Aspects such as ‘an experience integrating satisfaction with interaction’, ‘smooth process’, and ‘engaging experience’ came up in the discussion, which was similar to that in the findings from the earlier questionnaire. This is helpful to see the similarity in the findings as it provides insight into what a larger population hopes to see when it comes to live stream retailing. Secondly, participants discussed what they would change with the design, and it was highlighted that, again, this method of commerce may work better as a plug-in rather than a separate platform, and also that it has a similar style to Tik-Tok, in which we see a feed of videos following on from each other rather than selecting different categories, which may arouse customer purchase intention more spontaneously and strategically. Thirdly, participants went on to discuss some design features they would like to see in the design, and these included VR, social functions such as chat, and also the option for businesses to gain followings, through which they could build up a customer base online.
Overall, the findings from the co-design workshop have provided in-depth insight into strategic application recommendations when it comes to a design that can be implemented to enhance success and various insights into what their feelings are about such a platform, what their ideal experience would be, and how they think the customer journey can be mapped out and understood from a user perspective.