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Similarities and differences between consumer and e-consumers

Similarities and differences between consumer and e-consumers.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

Why we differentiate between online and offline customers is primarily because they use different platforms to shop.

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The digital and technological disruptions have brought about significant changes to the market, including how businesses are offering, selling and promoting their products. These changing business practices impact re-shaping customer needs, with their behaviour contextualised in an evolving digital world.

What we are discussing is more than the product. Not only should we understand customers’ needs in relation to a product, but we also need to understand how digital disruption has influenced customers’ preferences in using different digital platforms to make purchase decisions.

Using the E-S-QUAL model, Parasuraman et al. (2005) highlighted four key dimensions of customers’ expectations when visiting a website:

First, efficiency - how easy the website is to use and navigate. Second, fulfilment - if and how the company fulfils its promises about order delivery and item availability (eg estimated delivery date). Third, system availability - technical functioning of the website. And fourth, privacy - the extent to which the customer feels safe and protected when shopping on the website.

Customers’ expectations might be different when using mobile applications compared to the website. For example, customers might look for unique features such as multi-functionality – eg customisation, entertainment features and the ability to interact with the company. Companies meeting these customer expectations can achieve higher customer satisfaction and engagement as it facilitates the customers’ decision-making process, which ultimately leads to greater purchase intention.

You will be studying the transformation of customer behaviour in the digital world in the following steps, and more specifically, customer behaviour on different platforms.

Your task

Carry out some research to find a few keywords that can be used to differentiate online customers from traditional customers (offline customers).
Post your keywords to our Padlet wall under the relevant headings. Take some time to look at the comments and ideas posted by your fellow learners.


Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A., & Malhotra, A. (2005). E-S-QUAL: A multiple-item scale for assessing electronic service quality. Journal of Service Research, 7(3), 213-233. Locate link (available to fee-paying students)

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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