There is considerable evidence to show that e commerce is the face of the future for numerous businesses around the world. Consequently, Purple book stores are preparing to share in the success and benefits that come with online selling. A company such as Amazon.com has paved the way for online book selling thus illustrating that online selling provides a lucrative source of competitive advantage in the industry. (Gray, 2007)
The major problem that the research intends to tackle is assessment of the feasibility of online book selling. Online book selling is an issue that has recently been considered by some book stores. Therefore, the dynamics of this industry are not fully understood. It would be prudent to conduct consumer research in order to determine how this relatively new industry works so as to enter into the business.
The research objectives are as follows
1) To investigate the size of demand for online books
2) To assess the potential of online business
3) To assess the behavior patterns of online shoppers
The first research objective is to investigate the size of demand for online books. This is essential in solving the research problem because it will determine whether people are actually buying the books and will therefore determine the overall success of the venture as soon as it commences. The second research objective is to assess the potential of online business. Since e-commerce is emerging as a major possibility in business, it is essential to ascertain whether there are any possibilities for the future of this business approach. The last research objective is to assess the behavior patterns of online shoppers. This is essential to Purple book stores because the company can then use the information to map out their distributional, promotional and product design strategies.
The research will cover a number of issues some of which will be severely constrained by the budget. First of all, resources will be used in analyzing what the potential participants for the survey will be. Resources will go into creating questionnaires for all the participants yet the sample size will be quite large. Additionally, much attention has to be placed in the distribution of the questionnaires and this will involve transportation, incentives and communication between the respondents and the researcher. The process of analysis will employ the use of certain software that will need to be accounted for in the budget. The issue of time will also need to be included in the survey owing to the fact that a large number of respondents need to be reached and the questionnaire is quite long; this will affect the nature of questionnaire used.
As it has been stated earlier, the purpose of the questionnaire is to assess the demand for online books, the potential for online business and the behavioral patterns for online book purchasers. These research objectives will be addressed through a total of twenty questions. The latter questions will be tailored towards achieving the research objectives. Consequently, each will be related to the research objectives.
Size of demand for online books
1) Have you ever read an online book?
Yes No Not sure
While a large number of respondents may be exposed to the internet, some of them use it to send emails, chat with friends, view magazines and interactive forums. (Gray, 2007)
Consequently, it is essential to find out whether people actually read online books in light of all these other alternatives because the answers to this question will be a direct response to the first research objective which is to determine the size of demand for online books. If a large percentage of participants respond in the affirmative, then it will imply that there is a large demand for the commodity and that Purple book stores can proceed with the venture.
2) How often do you read an online book?
daily weekly monthly annually after more than one year never
The frequency with which people read online books will also be a direct reflection of the size of demand for online books hence a direct method of answering research objective one. (Gray, 2007)If the respondents read online books frequently, then they could be buying the books frequently thus indicating that there is a high demand for the product.
3) When was the last time you purchased an online book
a week ago a month ago three months ago six months ago a year ago over a year ago never
The question will contribute towards research objective one by determining the precise time that respondents bought online books. Together with question two, it will be possible to assess the frequency of purchase hence demand.
4) Do you dedicate more time to print books than online books
Yes No Not sure
Print books are the most direct form of competition for online books. Consequently when respondents purchase more of these, then chances are that they are more likely to disregard online books. In other words, an assessment of demand for competing products will go a long way in determining the actual demand for the actual product which is an online book.
5) Do you have a favorite online store
Yes No Not sure
This question will assist in determining the size of demand for online books owing to the fact that consumers with a favorite store will most likely be devoted online readers. If a large percentage responds positively to this question, then purple store will have higher chances of selling their commodities online than if they were selling only the tangible products in a store.
6) Would you purchase books from a new online book store
Yes No Not sure
In conjunction with question five, this question will contribute towards research objective one because it reflects the degree of loyalty of online purchasers. Consequently, it would be essential in determining the overall demand for the commodity through a quantitative analysis of the answers.
7) What are your concerns about online book selling
Credit card fraud it does not provide real objects Too distractive would ruin the book industry no concerns
In order to determine the size of demand for online books (research objective one), it is essential to find out some of the deterrents to online selling. If respondents choose no concerns as the most common option then demand will be high. However, if they choose other responses, then demand may be low. (Gray, 2007)This question will assist Purple book store in the process of creating a business strategy based on the responses given.
8) Do you think digital books are less profitable than printed books to book sellers?
Yes No Not sure
There have been rising concerns that the music industry has been destroyed by online selling. Because of the cheap accessibility of music CDs online, most entertainment companies are making a little as ninety nine cents on each item. These entrepreneurs have reported exceptionally low profit margins thus ruining business for them. If Purple store was to go online, they need to consider some of the possible problem that may arise in the future. If these low profit margins have been reported in the music industry, then the same thing may happen to the book industry thus affecting the potential of the business in the future (research objective two).
9) Do you think online books will contribute towards establishing a reading culture?
Yes No Not sure
The latter questions will be an essential method of predicting the potential of online business (research objective two). Some experts argue that reading books online is quite difficult owing to the numerous distractions that come with videos, pictures and blogs. (Gray, 2007) As a result, many online readers flip from one page to the other without really absorbing the full message of the book that they are trying to read. If this practice continues for years, then such young readers may not develop sound reading cultures. The issue of a reading culture is essential in assessing the potential of the online business because if the nature of the commodity distracts consumers from fully appreciating its purpose, then it may stop them from understanding its usefulness. The overall result is that most people may not be interested in books some fifty years from today. This could be very detrimental to the potential of the business.
10) Do you think that online book publishers are responding to your demand for books?
Yes No Not Sure
Many publishing companies have not been responsive about the availability of their books online. While other industries have been rushing towards online business, book makers have been doing the opposite. Most of them are stepping up their copyright laws and intellectual property laws. Publishers are yet to warm up to this kind of business approach. This question is crucial to answering research objective two i.e. potential of online book selling. Publishers are the major suppliers of books to any book store. Consequently, when they have not embraced the issue of online selling, then they may not cooperate with online retailers such as Purple store. (Gray, 2007) Purple store needs to know whether there is a future in this industry by analyzing the behavior patterns of their suppliers; the publishers. (Research objective two)
11) Are online books more applicable now than print versions?
Yes No Not Sure
This issue will reflect on the potential of the book selling industry because it will indicate whether the respondents believe in online books more than the available versions and this can then be projected into the future. (Research objective two)
12) Where do you see online books twenty years from now?
Being the most lucrative business approach for selling books It will perform moderately well compared to other modes of selling books It will not be an important approach to selling books
This question will assess consumer’s views about the potential of online book selling hence achieving research objective two.
13) Would you read books from a digital library
Yes No Not sure
The latter question will be important in assessing the behavior patterns of online shoppers. Through this question, it will be possible to answer research objective three because it will be possible to assess the style that online readers use to access books online. (Gray, 2007) Digital libraries normally offer the same features that actual book stores offer such as borrowing books, bookmarking, purchasing books among others, it is necessary to determine whether there are a number of people who would go for the idea. Additionally, this also represents the potential of online business because through scanning book pages and making them available though digital libraries, a wide array of consumers can be reached.
14) Do you think print books are old news?
Yes No Not sure
This question is essential in answering research objective three which seeks to find out the behavior patterns of online shoppers. Through this question, one can ascertain whether or not online books are considered the new wave in the book industry or whether consumer patterns are geared towards another direction.
15) What do you prefer doing online?
Watching a You Tube video on a book reading a book online viewing blogs on certain book topics None of the above
A number of experts claim that most people using the internet are more interested in using blogs or watching videos about certain books rather than actually reading them online. The responses to this question could be essential in determining the overall potential of online book selling because it will be an avenue for determining competition for the commodity. This will go a long way in ascertaining whether people will actually buy the commodity given the fact that there are others products that compete directly with online books.
It has also been asserted by a number of reading experts that online blogs have become such a common occurrence among online users with a large percentage of them focusing their energy and attention on the issues that derail them from the actual product. (Gray, 2007)Additionally, these online books create an atmosphere in which young people prefer reading unedited information rather that the intricately edited published material that comes in the form of online books.
16) What concerns you the most about the usability of online books
They are difficult to format They cannot be transported It takes too long to download The available formats are incompatible with my PC None of the above
There have been a number of complaints about the current version of online books that could be affecting buying behavior. Most users assert that a number of books are available in the DRM format yet the books are meant to be used in web version 2.0. This makes it extremely difficult to use the commodity and consequently, discourages buyers from purchasing the items. Additionally, other consumers feel that when online books have certain features such as equations, it may be difficult to magnify (zoom) them or it may be difficult to allow users to view them properly. Consequently, most of them may get discouraged and go for printed alternatives. In other scenarios, readers may want to do some reading in unconventional places and this so not possible with online versions of books which rely on availability of a computer. (Gray, 2007) Consequently, readers looking for flexibility may be promoted to use another form of a book. All the multiple choices will reflect the buying behavior of the consumer and will therefore contribute towards answering research objective three (determining behavior patterns of online shoppers)
17) What features do you like most in online books
They allow formatting They provide opportunities to interact One can search for information using search words one places the book in wider academic context one can determine which other readers are accessing the book at any one time None of the above
It is essential to determine the kind of features that draw consumers into the online book industry because through that, then one can assess buyer behavior. (research objective three)This will be essential in mapping out promotional or marketing strategies for purple book once they go online. The company will be able to take advantage of the knowledge obtained from the research to meet the precise needs of their consumers.
18) What type of books do you read online?
Science fiction Romance novels Motivational books Prescribed school texts Biographies Scientific books (genetics, zoology, industrial chemistry etc) Books on the arts (law, social sciences, political sciences) None
The latter question is essential in assessing buying behavior for online books. This will be instrumental in the research because it will answer research objective three and will consequently provide Purple book store with detailed knowledge about the kind of books they need to stock once they choose to go online. (Gray, 2007)
19) Would you read for fun online?
Yes No Not sure
Certain reports indicate that the reading culture has changed dramatically after the technological era. These reports assert that the reading culture has been affected because now young people can actually consider reading a fun activity. This question will be essential in determining what the major influences are in the online book selling business. In other words, they will be essential in ascertaining whether people actually read books because of the same reasons. This will go a long way in understanding buying behavior thus achieving research objective three (assessing behavior patterns of online consumers)
20) Do you think online books offer flexibility as a desirable trait?
Yes No Not sure
This question will provide an avenue to assessing what the potential reasons for purchasing online books are for the respective clients. This will reflect upon their buying behavior and will therefore answer research objective three. In so doing, purple store will have a basis for setting up their business.
A sample is a representative group of the population to be involved in the research. For this particular scenario, a sample is necessary in order to minimize time and resource wastage. This would not have been possible if everyone in the target population was involved in the actual research.
The first step in questionnaire sampling is determining the goals of the research. These have already been stated in the latter sections of the report. The next step is determining the target population. The target population may sometimes be referred to as the kind of people who will be involved in the survey.
For this particular research, the overall objective of the research is to determine the feasibility of setting up an online book selling store. Consequently, it would be favorable to involve a target population that accommodates this research objective. However, there are instances in which one may select a sample that is self selective, for instance, if the questionnaires only considered a target population made up of people who have subscribed for e-books, then the research would be biased. This group would be self selective and would therefore not be sufficient enough to give valid results. Additionally, choosing a target population made up of people who have membership in real libraries may also create bias because such persons are also self selective. (Leung, 2001)
This research wants to include both online shoppers and non online shoppers. This is because in order to determine the demand for online books, then it would be necessary to consider those who have used online purchasing and those who have not. Additionally, the research should include different types of readers in order to obtain a fair representation of both online readers and print version readers. In other words, the target population is not a clear cut one. It is difficult to trace persons who use online purchasing services, online books, print books, tangible book stores all in one location. The most accurate depiction of such a mixed group would be a collection of random users. These can be all the people listed in the state’s telephone directory. This will reflect the views of almost all the potential Purple store consumers. All the users within the list will have an equal chance of being chosen for the respective questionnaire.
After choosing the target population, it is then necessary to determine the actual number of people who will take part in the questionnaire. In other words, this will be the sample size. (Teisman et al, 2004)
Since the target population will be quite large, then it would be favorable to also have a large sample size to increase the accuracy of the results. Experts assert that sampling errors increase with sampling size, consequently, the bigger the size the lower the error. Other issues need to be considered before coming up with the most appropriate size. For instance, since the questions in the questionnaire are closed, then responses will not vary tremendously and it can be easy to conduct a quantitative analysis even with large sample sizes. However, data will be matched into smaller sub-groupings in order to come up with meaningful conclusions on the research objectives. Consequently, it will be necessary to determine which samples will result in high confidence levels. This will be done through the following chart.
The chart is generated by first determining the level of sampling error that can be tolerated in the research. In this case, the sampling errors chosen were + or – 5% and + or – 10%. In other words, ninety percent or ninety five percent of the time, the results of the survey will represent the opinions of the overall target population. Thereafter, it is necessary to start determining sample sizes and confidence levels for different population sizes. It should be noted that population sizes are the fixed amounts i.e. either 100, 1000, 5000 or any number while the sample size and confidence level are variables. The point at which the sample size of a particular population corresponds to the required confidence level which is 95%, would be the most appropriate sample size, in this case, in order to achieve a confidence level of ninety five percent, then a sample size of 387 will be needed. This is on condition that the number of people within the target population is five thousand. If they are higher than this number, then a bigger sampling size will need to be chosen depending on the calculations made.
The method of sampling chosen for this particular research is simple random sampling. This is the type of sampling in which the chances of getting a representative are equally distributed. (Leung, 2001) In this regard, the members that will participate in the survey will be determined by random numbers that have been laid out in a computer. This particular method was chosen for the research because it is a form of probability sampling. The major advantage with this method of sampling is that there are minimal biases. Since the sample selection is done through random numbers on a computer, then there are no interferences by external parties and participants have high chances of representing the actual target population.
Simple random sampling is less susceptible to bias than stratified sampling. Stratified sampling is normally done by taking parts of the target population with simple characteristics and then choosing random samples from each sub group. This kind of sampling technique would not have been wise in this case because it would interfere with the some of the research objectives. For instance, one of the objectives is to determine the size of the demand for online books. This can only be possible when all members of the target populations are equally represented and not when they are divided into groups.
Additionally, this research did not employ another technique such as snowball sampling. In snowball sampling, participants are usually requested to give the names of other people they know who would take part in the survey. This heavily biases the outcome because it is likely that one’s friends usually hold the same opinions as the original respondent. Also, convenience sampling was not chosen for this particular research because it is one of the sampling techniques that lead to high sampling errors. If this research was to employ convenience sampling, then respondents would all come from a certain bookstore or they would simply be internet users. This would heavily bias the results because most of the respondents would indicate that they purchase online books yet this may not necessarily be the case in the real world. (Teisman et al, 2004)
Quota sampling is also another alternative. Here, persons chosen for the survey are the ones that closely match the target population as much as possible. Usually, a certain category of people may be found in the target population. Consequently, the same number may be sought continuously in the sampling strategy until it has been found. However, this kind of criteria does not suit the research because no particular demographics were being sought in the process.
The major objective of the research was to find out whether online book selling is feasible. The research questions were designed in a manner that would achieve this overall objective. Simple random sampling was chosen as the sample selection technique because it would ascertain an unbiased sample and it was also compatible with the research objectives.
Gray, J. (2007): The E-book journey-Current paths and future roads, Springer Publishers, p 46-98
Leung, W. (2001): How to conduct a survey; Student BMJ, 9, 12, 143-145
Teisman, L. et al (2004): How to carry out data collection strategies, the evaluation forum report, no. 12, pp 67-70
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