Giovanni Portello


Year: 2021

Supervisor: Luciano Gamberini

Co-supervisor: Valeria Orso, Patrik Pluchino

Graduate student: Giovanni Portello

E-commerce allows to enrich the physical realm of shopping by breaking the spatial and temporal barriers thanks to the Web. In fact, it enables users to purchase products and/or services even from remote locations, at any time, and with a wide variety of choices. On the other hand, the intangibility of products is often seen as a challenging obstacle to purchases. In the always-connected world of e-commerce, website design can make a difference in the users’ perception of the site itself and consequently influence the purchasing experience within a specific product category. The initial impression of a website is built in a few seconds, and it highlights the importance of understanding and implementing more effective solutions that can swiftly instill the necessary confidence in the user to complete a purchase. The purpose of this research is to investigate how website design influences the user’s purchasing experience in the Italian context and whether this influence varies depending on the product category. The products considered include those from the domains of large-scale food distribution, household appliances, and clothing. A mixed methodological approach was adopted for the research, integrating qualitative data such as video analysis, and quantitative data such as questionnaires and standardized facial expression analysis, to build a comprehensive picture of the user’s experience.

The participants involved were simply asked to complete a series of purchase simulations using the websites identified in a preliminary experiment, followed by completing questionnaires to investigate the usage experience and specific aspects of website design. The experimental sessions were also video-recorded to allow subsequent video and facial expression analysis using dedicated software.
Overall, the results highlight how website design has an effect on users’ purchasing experience, but only within the navigation of sites selling household appliances. Additionally, the results indicate that users explore more products and spend more time navigating e-commerce sites when purchasing hedonic goods like clothing, rather than utilitarian goods like food.

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