Featured Topic: Online shopping


Featured Topic: Online Shopping

Sarah Krivan 

Online shopping increasingly appears to be an attractive alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar stores. In the U.S., e-commerce sales increased by 43% in 2020 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.* The broad-scale accessibility granted by mobile internet allows for purchasing anytime, anywhere, and having items delivered directly to your home offers both security in meeting social distancing and isolation practices, and greater convenience compared to visiting multiple physical stores where stock levels may vary compared to the surety of online stock monitoring. However, SBP authors have found that not all online stores are created equal, and that personality factors influence consumers’ approach to online shopping.

Product reviews written by current or former users can assist consumers in deciding whether to purchase a specific item, given that the logistics of buying online generally don’t allow for previewing the product and judging its merits firsthand. C.-L. Lin et al. (2011) found that both the quality and the quantity of reviews increase online purchasing intention. In addition, the framing of online shopping promotions influences shoppers’ willingness to click on a promotion campaign email (H. Lin & Wu, 2022). Promotions targeting the individual consumer are more effective in this regard than promotions targeting all consumers of a given shopping platform.

The quality of the online shopping experience once a decision is made to go ahead with a purchase also has a distinct impact on consumers’ willingness to use these forums and to return in the future for subsequent purchasing. Luo and Lee (2011) reported that perceived trust and usefulness have a positive impact on the relationship between e-service quality and customer satisfaction. Lee et al. (2015) found that more experienced shoppers who are concerned about the privacy of their information are more responsive to personalization features on retail websites than are people with less online shopping experience and who have a lower level of information privacy concern.

Related to the privacy concerns, another common area of research is the link between online shopping and risk. Wu and Chang (2007) found that risk attitude is positively associated with online shopping experience, consumer satisfaction, and repurchase intention for online shopping. Consumers with a higher risk preference exhibit a stronger repurchase intention when their initial purchase is deemed satisfactory. Pi and Sangruang (2011) examined in detail the specific types of risk that have the strongest effect on consumers’ attitude toward online shopping, and reported that convenience, physical, performance, and social factors have a stronger influence than do financial, physiological, and time risks.

On the other side of the issue, once consumers have embraced online shopping, there is the risk of this turning into a compulsion. Lee et al. (2016), who also conducted the above study on information privacy in online shopping, and Wang and Yang (2008) reported that personality variables have an influence here. The former group of authors observed that low self-esteem and high levels of internet addiction increase the likelihood of compulsive buying, and the latter authors noted that openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness can lead individuals to develop a passion for online shopping activities.

The upswing in popularity and accessibility of online shopping makes this field rich with possibility for scientific examination of the influencing factors. Interested in learning more? Our journal archive contains dozens of articles on this topic and related fields over our five decades of publication. Sign up for a personal subscription to SBP to gain access to over 3,900 papers spanning the fields of social, behavioral, and developmental psychology.

*Brewster, M. (2022, April 17). Annual retail trade survey shows impact of online shopping on retail sales during COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Department of Commerce.  


The effects of online reviews on purchasing intention: The moderating role of need for cognition – Chin-Lung Lin, Sheng-Hsien Lee, and Der-Juinn Horng, 2011, 39(1), 71–82.

Effect of framing on consumers’ willingness to participate in a promotion campaign – Haichao Lin and Xiaoyue Wu, 2022, 50(9), Article e11893.

The influence of trust and usefulness on customer perception of e-service quality – Shu-Fang Luo and Tzai-Zang Lee, 2011, 39(6), 825–838.

Personalized e-services: Consumer privacy concern and information sharing – Seungsin Lee, Younghee Lee, Joing-In Lee, and Jungkun Park, 2015, 43(5), 729–740.

The role of risk attitude on online shopping: Experience, customer satisfaction, and repurchase intention – Wann-Yih Wu and Man-Ling Chang, 2007, 35(4), 453–468.

The perceived risks of online shopping in Taiwan – Shih-Ming Pi and Jirapa Sangruang, 2011, 39(2), 275–286.

The interplay of Internet addiction and compulsive shopping behaviors – Seungsin Lee, Jungkun Park, and Sukhyung Bryan Lee, 2016, 44(11), 1901–1912.

Passion for online shopping: The influence of personality and compulsive buying – Chih-Chien Wang and Hui-Wen Yang, 2008, 36(5), 693–706.