Do Customers Identify with Our Website? The Effects of Website Identification on Repeat Purchase Intention

Ruth C. King, Richard A.M. Schilhavy, Charles Chowa, and Wynne W. Chin
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 20, Number 3, Spring 2016, pp. 319-354.


An online retailer’s website acts as a focal point for a company’s online identity, not only encompassing the products and services offered but also presenting the aesthetic image and values of the company. Cultivating a strong company online identity helps differentiate one online retailer from another, attracts and retains customers to strengthen competitive advantage, and enhances brand, product, or service distinctions. Our study proposes that an online retailer’s website cultivates a particular identity that consumers may identify with to varying degrees. This identification with an online retailer’s web presence may generate repeat purchases from committed consumers, or even extra-role behaviors such as the creation and distribution of written, audio, and video content online. Website identification is proposed to be a representation of a consumer’s identification with his/her perception of an online retailer’s identity. Website identification is theorized to act as a mediating factor that unifies online purchase research streams with information systems, consumer behavior, and marketing, presenting new strategies for online retailers to assess and build a strong customer base. This study demonstrates that website identification provides a new theoretical perspective to understand online shopping behavior of committed customers. We recommend that online retailers promote website identification to attract and retain repeat customers by focusing on the attractiveness of the website and product offerings while maintaining a high degree of trust.

Key Words and Phrases: Consumer-company identification, e-tail, online retail, online trust, product attractiveness, repeat purchase intention, service attractiveness, social identity, website design, website identification, website quality.