Shopping anytime anywhere

O’Hara, K., and Perry, M. Shopping anytime anywhere. In CHI ’01: CHI ’01 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems (New York, NY, USA, 2001), ACM, pp. 345–346. [URL]


This paper presents a field study that was conducted to understand in which particular situations people whant to buy something but for some reason they defer their transaction. The author motivate this research question by explaining that m-commerce applications are built as demonstrators rather than compelling applications. Additionally, they felt that most research on consumer behavior was directed towards advertisers. They found little user understanding that can directly inform design of new m-commerce devices and services.

They used a “photo diary” approach. They gave a disposable camera to 16 participants, asking them to take a picture every time they deferred a transaction impulse. Participants took an average of 36 pictures during the course of a week. Half the opportunities for fulfilling deferred transactions could be supported by direct interaction between mobile devices and the transaction objects themselves (e.g., barcode-scanning). Also, the majority of deferred impulse were generated at home (e.g., provisioning of goods). Thirty percent of deferred impulse were generated in a shop or in front of a shop window.

They summarized these finding by indicating three major implications for design: a) consumer behavior is social and collaborative. One reason participants deferred their impulse fulfilment was because they needed to seek reassurance and advice about potential purchases. b) Information seeking and analysis not in the moment. Transactions were also deferred due to the lack of information at the point of impulse generation. c) Consumption is not a pinpoint decision process. It is more useful to think about consumer behavior as transaction narratives from an impulse seed to a final transaction. Many participants talked about mental wish-lists.

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