During recent years, the potential for electronic commerce via the Internet has been intensively discussed. A strong vision of e-commerce as a business with great potential has been established. In the mean time different signs of problems in connection with e-commerce have been observed. The comprehensive empirical material concerning consumers’ impressions and experiences of e-commerce indicates that important qualities in the business are missing. This dissertation seeks to examine the potential for e-commerce by identifying and analysing factors that are important for the consumers in making use of the new medium. Based on the results obtained, new systems and strategies that could facilitate the interaction between e-trading companies and consumers are discussed. The study starts with the identification of five factors that affect the consumer’s possibilities of making use of the products and services in an e-commerce environment. The factors are: Attention, experiences, Social interaction, Physical contact with the products, and Consumer trust. Three strategies with the aim to improve the interaction between consumers and e-trading companies are proposed, based on the analysis. The strategies are developed and examined in six research papers forming the basis of this dissertation. Three papers discuss the use of personalization systems and autonomous agents in e-commerce. These contribute to the formation of a strategy called Analytical technology. One paper deals with the study of an advanced multimedia user interface distributed by means of a broadband portal. The strategy behind this is called the Hypermedia interface. Two papers discuss the combination of different retailing channels arranged in close connection. The proposed strategy is named Multi-Channel Retailing. The results of the studies indicate that all three strategies can give important contributions to the establishment of ease-of-use in e-commerce. The Multi-Channel Retailing strategy seems to be the most useful strategy in the short run. This is due to the fact that the necessary infrastructure already exists. The Analytical technology strategy and the Hypermediacy interface strategy have the potential to become important strategies in the future of e-commerce. However, a more common implementation cannot be expected until these systems have been further developed. Key words: e-commerce, consumers, interaction, autonomous agents, personalization, hypermedia interface, broadband, multi-channel retailing.
Stockholm: KTH, Royal Institute of Technology , 2001. , 170 p.