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System design effects on online impulse buying

Kathy Ning Shen (Faculty of Business and Management, University of Wollongong in Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Mohamed Khalifa (College of Business Studies, Al Ghurair University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 10 August 2012




Integrating the two‐system (reflective vs. impulsive) model and the “stimulus‐organism‐response” framework, the purpose of this paper is to construct and empirically test a model that examines online impulse buying as a phenomenon triggered by system design factors.


A laboratory experimental design with a 2×2 full factorial design involving 151 undergraduate students was used to validate the effects of system design stimuli on online impulse buying. Interactivity and vividness, two design factors, were manipulated and a fictitious VCD movie store was created, with four storefronts representing each combination of treatments.


A compelling and sociable virtual experience as conceptualized with telepresence and social presence has a significant effect on buying impulses over and above traditional marketing/product stimuli. Such virtual experience can be created through the usage of interactive and vivid website features. Furthermore, cognition positively moderates the relationship between buying impulse and the actual purchasing behavior.

Practical implications

The findings provide valuable guidance in website design that can stimulate online impulse buying. The results also indicate the importance of providing cognitive intervention at the purchasing stage.


A significant extension of the “stimulus‐organism‐response” framework is to introduce presence as the system stimulus that captures the overall virtual experience and to specify the associated design features; i.e. interactivity and vividness. By incorporating the two‐system model, this study offers a theoretical underpinning of the role of cognitive processing in impulse buying.



Ning Shen, K. and Khalifa, M. (2012), "System design effects on online impulse buying", Internet Research, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 396-425.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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