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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Researchers tag shopping science

A new study conducted by associate professors in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences might help derive a theory about why people shop and browse through different online and offline channels, such as in stores or online.

Sherry Lotz and Mary Ann Eastlick, associate professors in the college, are working together on a new study that will allow them to analyze why people choose to purchase and search for products in certain arrangements consisting of store and online channels.

“It’s really interesting now that we have all these channels because people will use different variations,” Lotz said. “We are really interested in finding out why people do the activity they do and in which channels.”

The two conducted a qualitative study in 2009, which allowed them to conduct in-depth interviews and gauge the general response. However, the new quantitative study uses a survey approach and should provide more detailed information. In the 2009 study, Lotz and Eastlick found that there are gender differences when it comes to shopping, and that people tend to avoid stores with bad customer service or pushy salespeople.

“If you treat the customers with respect and you’re nice to them, they’re going to want to come back,” said Emma Pinter, a pre-dental and studio art junior who works at Old Navy. “If you’re rude, they’re going to say, ‘This store is terrible, the people are so rude.’”

A recent bad customer service experience Pinter said she remembers is when she went to get her hair cut, and an employee acted extremely snobby. After the experience, Pinter decided she was not returning.

Other stores place a high focus on connecting with customers in order to ensure they return.

“Our number-one priority in here is customers,” said Taness Billington, a manager at Grand Central Clothing on University Boulevard. “We train our girls like that, that everything is centered around the customers. Without them, you would have no business.”

In regards to the new study, Billington said it would be helpful for her company because store workers could gain a better understanding of why students choose to use different channels of shopping.

The new survey has more than 200 questions and focuses on different factors relating to purchasing and searching for products online and in stores. Lotz and Eastlick contracted Zoomerang, an online survey tool, to collect the data from a panel of consumers.

Data analyzing will most likely take place this summer, Lotz said. She said the actual survey results should be done around the fall.

“From an academic perspective, no one has definitively figured out why people use the channels they do,” Lotz said. “Hopefully by analyzing this data, we will have a better idea of why people actually purchase in a channel and browse in others.”

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