Consumer Foreign Online Purchasing : Uncertainty in the Consumer-Retailer Relationship

Abstract: Consumer foreign online purchasing (CFOP) in this thesis refers to the exchange between consumers and foreign online retailers. Despite empirical facts showing increasing interest of consumers to purchase from foreign online retailers, researchers have only paid modest interest to this new marketing field. In response to recent researchers’ calls for further studies in this new field, this thesis aims to add knowledge on why some consumers purchase from foreign online retailers and others do not. CFOP is associated with uncertainty, so it is important to study what affects uncertainty and how consumers deals with uncertainty.Contrary to marketing-management theory studies, this thesis employs behavior theory and adopts views from relationship and network perspectives. The theoretical framework in this effort is business relationship concepts (commitment, trust, and uncertainty) and provides deeper understanding of how consumers behave in foreign online purchasing contexts. The empirical studies in this thesis employ multiple methods, including, in-depth, focus groups, narrative interviews, and two quantitative studies. This thesis discusses previous studies on marketing management theory, business-to-business and business-to-consumer relationships. Based on the framework, this thesis contributes with deeper insight for understanding consumers’ foreign online purchasing behavior. The empirical and theoretical contributions of this thesis not only advance understanding of this market arena, but also may attract the interest of other researcher.In addition to the four papers with different theoretical contributions, the thesis contains a summary to properly position its theoretical background. Since the papers have a variety of emphases and stress different uses of analytical tools, uncertainty, commitment, and trust, the summary connects the four papers into a theoretical framework. The theoretical frame explicitly states the findings in the papers. It explains factors that affect uncertainty in CFOP and also how consumers deal with uncertainty in order to establish and develop relationships through the pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase phases.