The purpose of this paper is two‐fold: to investigate virtual agent representational characteristics (modality, interaction style, animation, realism, embodiment, and gender) employed by agent software providers in developing commercial and non‐commercial web sites; and to examine older consumers' preferences in these agent characteristics.
Study 1 involves a content analysis of 64 sample web sites of agent providers, and study 2 consists of four focus group interviews conducted with 25 older consumers in the age group of 65‐82 years.
Findings from both studies reveal some important disconnects between agent characteristics (modality, realism, animation, and gender) offered by virtual agent software providers and those preferred by older consumers. As a result, important recommendations are provided for the development of virtual agents for e‐commerce applications to enhance accessibility for older users.
No previous studies have investigated which agent characteristics enhance web accessibility and are most preferred by older users in the context of e‐commerce applications.
Chattaraman, V., Kwon, W., Gilbert, J.E. and In Shim, S. (2011), "Virtual agents in e‐commerce: representational characteristics for seniors", Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 276-297. https://doi.org/10.1108/17505931111191492
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