The Internet and mobile technology have significant impacts on consumers and businesses. According to Nielsen [1
], there are 4 billion people connected to the internet, and 92.6% of them use mobile devices for internet access. Consumers have increasingly spent more time on a diverse range of digital activities, with greater frequency [1
]. Online shopping is a dramatically developing business, since internet technology and applications provide customers with more accessible, more convenient, and cheaper methods to find more varied kinds of products than traditional shopping [3
]. Along with the growth and associated advantages of online shopping, purchasing food online is climbing at an unprecedented rate [2
], and generation X, Millennials, and generation Z are the most avid online food buyers [6
Vietnam is recognized as one of the nations with the fastest rates of internet penetration (ranked 17th in the world) and increasing smart phone penetration rates [7
], offering great potential for the development of online shopping. The latest data from Nielsen [1
] demonstrates that 98% of the Vietnamese who have access to the Internet have made at least one purchase online, growing 1% compared to 2017. The report also reveals that 17% of digital consumers have shopped for fresh food through online channels, which is up 5% compared to 2017. In general, consumers can order and purchase food products from a diverse range of websites for grocery stores, supermarkets, restaurants, food intermediaries, and delivery businesses, such as Vietnammm.com, Now.vn (Delivery Now), and Flyfood.vn. It is estimated that Vietnamese consumers are likely to shop for more food products online in 2019 than those consumers in other Southeast Asian markets [8
]. Given that many online shoppers visit virtue stores on social network platforms [9
], this inevitable trend has been speeded up by a dramatic increase in the number of social media users (e.g., Facebook) in the country [5
Although the aforementioned figures show that there has been a rapid expansion of online food shopping in Vietnam, research on the determinants of consumer attitude and behavior associated with online food purchasing remains limited. A notable study conducted by Kim Dang et al. [10
] revealed that shoppers in Hanoi, which is the capital of Vietnam, tend to purchase food online because of competitive price, convenience, and food safety. However, this study did not comprehensively investigate the effects of technology acceptance and trust in online vendors on consumer attitude and intention towards online food purchases. According to Van der Heijden et al. [11
], research on online consumer behavior should investigate two types of issues differentiating online consumers from traditional consumers, i.e., technology interaction and trust. This assertion is also supported by several authors [12
]. Additionally, a comprehensive review by Changchit et al. [15
] demonstrates that the technology acceptance model (TAM) by Davis et al. [16
] has been widely applied in prior studies which investigated internet shopping behavior. However, given that such studies primarily concentrate on developed countries and markets, their findings may not be applicable to emerging economies [15
The aim of this paper is to investigate the factors that influence consumer attitude and intention towards purchasing food online in an emerging country. The study extends the TAM by combining its key constructs with trust, which appears to be a key determinant of online shopping behavior [11
]. It therefore adds to the ongoing debate regarding the antecedents and determinants of online food purchasing. By focusing on Vietnam, this study enriches the extant knowledge on technology acceptance and online food purchases in developing and emerging market economies. Practically, it offers fresh insights into how different factors enhance online consumers’ purchases of food products in the emerging Asian market of Vietnam. Essentially, this would assist key stakeholders, such as online food retailers, associations, and policy makers, to develop and manage their strategies and initiatives, which aim to promote the purchase of online food products.
The remainder of this research is structured as follows. Initially, we discuss the theoretical background for this research and develop the research hypotheses. This is followed by the research methodology, which includes the questionnaire, measures, data collection, and sample. Next, we present the data analysis and results. Thereafter, a detailed discussion of the key findings and their implications are provided. Finally, we present the concluding remarks, research limitations, and directions for future research to address such limitations.
5. Discussion and Implications
This study has made an effort to explain consumer attitude and intention towards online food purchasing in the context of an emerging economy. To this end, the study developed and validated a model that combines the TAM with website trust. Whilst several previous studies removed attitude or intention from the TAM [4
], our research model includes both of these constructs. The findings of our study have several important theoretical and managerial implications.
The results show that PEOU is a key driver of PU. This finding provides empirical support for the TAM [16
] and also echoes the earlier finding by Kurnia and Chien [39
]. It suggests that improving PEOU that reduces consumers’ physical and mental effort will enhance their beliefs about the usefulness and effectiveness of online food purchasing. In addition, PEOU has the greatest contribution to the formation of attitude towards purchasing food online. That is, online food consumers’ attitudes are strongly determined by how easy it is to order and purchase food through retailers’ websites. Such online shoppers tend to be convenience-oriented consumers who want shopping to be made easy, simple, and quick [71
]. Therefore, online food retailers must endeavor to design websites that are easy to interact with and simple to use, which will reduce consumers’ energy and effort associated with their purchases of online food products.
The finding also reveals that PU strongly affects attitude towards online food purchasing, but PU is not a significant predictor of consumer intention to purchase food products online. That is, in the context of online food shopping in Vietnam, PU influences intention indirectly via attitude. This finding is partly inconsistent with the Australian study by Kurnia and Chien, who found that online grocery shoppers’ PU affects their intentions directly and indirectly via attitude [39
]. However, our study’s finding is in line with prior research by Loketkrawee and Bhatiasevi, who asserted that PU leads to attitude, which in turn positively influences intention among Thai online food buyers [44
]. It should also be mentioned that several studies using the TAM to explain online food shopping behavior have not examined the relationship between PU and behavioral intention [4
]. Given that PU has a strong effect on attitude towards online food purchasing, food e-retailers should use communication programs emphasizing that online food shopping is time-saving, convenient, and effective and that it would improve consumers’ shopping performance and experience. Such programs should be developed and implemented jointly between online grocery retailers and relevant organizations such as the Association of Vietnam Retailers and the Vietnam Electronic Industries Association.
Another key finding concerns the role of trust in online food shopping. Although the respondents demonstrated a low level of trust in online food retailers’ websites, website trust was found to influence intention directly and indirectly via attitude towards online food purchasing. This finding extends that of Loketkrawee and Bhatiasevi [44
], who only confirmed the influence of website trust on attitudes towards buying grocery products online. In addition, this finding and the aforementioned results together suggest that website trust plays a more important role in forming consumer intention than PU. In the context of online shopping, given consumer’s inability to touch or smell food products and their difficulty in judging the quality of the products, food retailers’ websites should effectively present detailed and honest information about food products (e.g., ingredients, nutrients, manufacturers, country of origin, etc.) and the conditions of purchasing/ordering. In addition, customer testimonials emphasizing product quality and website quality should be put on the websites to build up customer trust and relationship. Retailers and website managers should make every effort to enhance the reliability and security of their websites as well as protect consumer privacy. Privacy policies should be clearly communicated to shoppers. Such efforts should be echoed by policy makers, who should strengthen legislation that protects consumers’ privacy and prevents financial risks in online shopping. The previously mentioned measures altogether will improve consumers’ website trust, which, in turn, enhances their attitudes and intentions towards online food purchasing.
6. Conclusions and Future Research
Although online shopping has been extensively studied, this study is among the first of its kind in providing empirical evidence pertaining to the effects of PU, PEOU, and trust on attitude and behavioral intention among online food shoppers in Vietnam, which is an important emerging market economy in the Southeast Asia. SEM results confirm the integral roles of PU, PEOU, and trust in enhancing the attitude towards online food purchasing. Among these drivers, PEOU exerts the greatest influence on attitude. In addition, attitude and trust are powerful drivers of intention towards purchasing food online. The model developed and validated in our study can serve as a framework for evaluating online food shopping in other research contexts. This study’s findings also have several important managerial implications for developing strategies to encourage the purchase of food products online in emerging countries like Vietnam. Ideally, such strategies should be developed and implemented jointly by key stakeholders, such as online food retailers, website developers and managers, associations, and policy makers.
This study has several limitations that can be addressed in future research. It should be noted that actual behavior was not included in the research model. Whilst this is in line with several prior studies, future research is advised to incorporate the actual purchase of online food shoppers. In this regard, a longitudinal study can be performed. Future studies should also extend our research model by including factors relating to enjoyment, prior experiences, or perceived risks. Moreover, the non-probability convenience sampling that was used limits the representativeness of our sample, which includes a great proportion of female and highly educated shoppers, as well as those aged under 40. Hence, future studies should seek to apply probability sampling techniques to obtain data from a more representative sample consisting of a wider range of respondents. Another possible way to control the representativeness of the sample is to combine the currently used survey method with experiments. Such a mixed method will also strengthen the rigor of the study and the significance of its findings. Additionally, given that this study examined food products in general, future research could focus on certain food categories. Finally, it would be desirable to conduct comparative studies that identify and explain the differences in online food shopping between groups of consumers with different demographic, geographic, and cultural characteristics.