To use the theory of planned behavior (TPB) as a theoretical framework to explore in depth the range of beliefs held by consumers about internet shopping in general and internet grocery shopping in particular.
Seven focus group interviews, four in the United Kingdom and three in Denmark, were conducted among consumers with different degrees of experience with internet grocery shopping. This diversification of respondents was chosen to capture a broad range of the consumer beliefs that predict intentions to buy groceries online or not. The TPB framework was used to construct the interview guide that was followed in all focus groups.
An unexpected result of the explorative study was that the seven groups consisting of more or less experienced internet shoppers differed only little in their pool of beliefs (outcome and control beliefs). Beliefs about internet grocery shopping, positive as well as negative, were remarkably congruent across groups. In the minds of consumers, internet grocery shopping is an advantage compared with conventional grocery shopping in terms of convenience, product range and price. Disadvantages, which could act as mental barriers, are, for instance, the risk of receiving inferior quality groceries and the loss of the recreational aspect of grocery shopping.
An important potential limitation of this research is the choice of focus groups as research methodology, which can prevent the elicitation of certain types of beliefs. If important beliefs concern issues of a more sensitive, personal character they are not likely to be mentioned in a focus group. Another limitation is the explorative nature of the research, which makes it impossible to attach weights to the importance of the elicited beliefs in predicting internet shopping behavior.
The findings could be used to direct attention to consumer beliefs about internet grocery shopping which have the potential of acting as barriers to this line of e‐commerce.
To shed some light on the role of consumers in an underperforming and understudied branch of internet retailing. Barriers in the consumers' minds to shop for groceries online are identified using an established theoretical framework.
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