To conceptualize the elements that define a “cyberscape” (by analogy with a landscape) and to assess how internet users respond to the cyberscape based upon their purpose and internet expertise level.
Pre‐tests were conducted to determine the elements of the cyberscape that consumers use to judge the quality of internet sites. The results of these tests indicated that there are 58, which could be classified into 11 dimensions. Linear regression analyses were conducted to predict how frequently consumers purchase merchandise and socialize on the internet, using the dimensions as predictors. Analyses were performed for low‐skill and high‐skill internet users.
Although consumers respond to all 11 cyberscape dimensions, many are “hygiene factors” rather than satisfiers. Those have to be in place for customers to approach a site, but it is the satisfiers that have the potential to generate customer satisfaction when they exceed expectations. For example, in terms of predicting the frequency of online purchasing among beginning internet users, product selection emerges as the key satisfier among internet beginners, whereas product selection and reliability are significant in the case of expert users.
Managers need to consider all cyberscape dimensions. The hygiene factors are mandatory for satisfying customers and for encouraging approach behavior, but satisfiers are the enhancing dimensions, critical for generating customer satisfaction and loyalty. Future researchers may want to use qualitative methodologies to understand the cyberscape dimensions to which consumers respond at the point of purchase or for information seeking.
Marketing planners can assess their own firm's internet sites on the 11 cyberscape dimensions, survey their customer base to determine which of those are hygiene factors and which satisfiers, and plan their cyberstrategy accordingly.
The paper extends the work of Williams and Dargel, published in volume 22 of Marketing Intelligence & Planning. It also builds upon Bitner's well known “servicescape” framework and the customer‐satisfaction studies of Naumann, Jackson and Rosenbaum.
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