The Impact of Infusing Social Presence in the Web Interface: An Investigation Across Product Types

Khaled Hassanein and Milena Head
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 10, Number 2, Winter 2005-06, pp. 31.

Abstract: Many on-line stores have little emotional or social appeal and lack human warmth. For some products, such as apparel, increasing a firm’s social presence through socially rich descriptions and pictures will have a positive impact on attitudinal antecedents to purchase. The appropriateness and need for human warmth and sociability differ across types of products or services, however. An empirical investigation compared apparel (a product for which consumers seek fun and entertaining shopping experiences) and headphones (a product for which consumers primarily seek detailed product information). Unlike apparel, higher levels of social presence on Web sites selling headphones did not have a positive effect on attitudinal antecedents. The implications of these findings are discussed, and subjects for future research are outlined.

Key Words and Phrases
: Electronic commerce, e-marketing, on-line shopper attitude, social presence, Web interface.