Qualitative Research Design in Action
Qualitative research design is the most preferred design used when researchers want to focus their research proposals on understanding human behaviour. In this post, I present a comprehensive example illustrating how you can successfully use qualitative research design from the planning to the final report preparation. The sample is an imaginary study, not an actual research. Areas and events are used to illustrate how researchers can use qualitative research design. When using qualitative research design, up to 30 interviewees can be engaged; however, I used only one respondent for illustration purposes.
Topic of the Study
The impact of online purchasing on consumer behaviour among Online Buyers in Kenya
To achieve the objectives of the study, five unstructured interview questions were used to collect data. The interview questions were:
- For how long have been buying goods and services online?
- Does the nature of information available affect your speed of buying products online?
- Why do you prefer online purchasing to seeking goods and services from physical shops?
- Have you ever experienced any challenges when using online purchasing?
- What do you think can be done to improve the quality of online purchasing services?
Interview Excerpt (Transcribed Data)
This is the interview excerpt detailing the interview between the researcher and the anonymous respondent A (respondent referred to as A for purposes of confidentiality).
Venue : Locust Grill-Thika Superhighway
Date : March 2, 2020
Time : 2:33pm-3:05 Pm
The actual Interview
Interviewer: For how long have been buying goods and services online?
Interviewee: I have been buying online for at least three years now. I was introduced to online purchasing by my workmate. Since then, I have found that online buying is the best option for purchasing goods that are not very urgent for use.
Interviewer: Does the nature of information available affect your speed of buying products online?
Interviewee: Um, I think online purchasing is all about the ability to access information that I want. Whenever I think of buying anything, I Google everywhere in the web and try to find companies dealing with the product. Here, you may find several companies offering the same product under different terms and conditions. I also compare what other people are saying about the product and the companies offering the product. The faster I access sufficient information, the faster I buy it. But if there is no information, I have to wait. However, it is rare to lack information online about companies and products. This makes online purchasing a better option to me.
Interviewer: Why do you prefer online purchasing to seeking goods and services from physical shops?
Interviewee: For me, I feel that online purchasing is more convenient than going to shops at Tom Mboya Street or Moi Avenue. Although this also depends on the nature of the product; but here we are talking about products such as clothing, watches, mobile phones, utensils and such. I only need to place an order and after a few hours I receive a call, “I am at Magunas Supermarket, where can I find you.” And all the time I have been doing some other works in the house. Such a convenience makes me prefer online purchasing.
Interviewer: Have you ever experienced any challenges when using online purchasing?
Interviewee: Yea, the main challenge is receiving a product that you never ordered for. Um, this occurs due to defects in businesses’ quality, but the one delivering can always go back and bring the actual product. However this is rare these days. Another challenge is high risk of losing money to thieves who could be pretending to have stocked a shop somewhere in town. But before purchasing from any business, social media provides a good platform for evaluating the authenticity of a company. Perceived risk is particularly a problem when it comes to cross-border purchasing. “mimi nikidoubt any risk ya kulose doh naeza sare hiyo deal”.
Interviewer: What do you think can be done to improve the quality of online purchasing services?
Interviewee: The best approach may be is by companies establishing a sense of loyalty through consistent defect-free delivery. Unajua ka unabuy place halafu wandeliver exactly what you ordered for without any risk, then unaeza watrust. Another way is by ensuring timely delivery without price inflation so that consumers can gain value by opting to buy online.
Interviewer: Thank you for your participation in this study.
Interviewee: Welcome again
Descriptive coding was used to assign codes to various statements, which were used to develop themes. Codes and themes help to streamline the data analysis process. Seven codes were generated from the interview excerpt as shown in table 1 below.
Table 1: Coding from the interview
|Search for Information||It is rare to lack information online about companies and products The faster I access sufficient information, the faster I buy it. But if there is no information, I have to wait. However, it is rare to lack information online about companies and products.|
|Comparing||I also compare what other people are saying about the product and the companies offering the product.|
|Service quality||Unajua ka unabuy place halafu wandeliver exactly what you ordered for without any risk, then unaeza watrust. “You know if buy from a place then they delivery exactly what you ordered for without any risk, then you can trust them.”|
|Home delivery||I feel that online purchasing is more convenient than going to shops at Tom Mboya Street or Moi Avenue.|
|Saves time||I only need to place an order and after a few hours I receive a call|
|Inaccurate||The main challenge is receiving a product that you never ordered for.|
|Safety concern||is high risk of losing money to thieves who could be pretending to have stocked a shop somewhere in town. Mimi nikidoubt any risk ya kulose doh naeza sare hiyo deal”. If I doubt any risk I usually abandon such deal.|
(Source: Survey Data, 2020)
Theming is the process of developing codes from qualitative data. From the seven codes generated, a total of three themes were developed as shown in table 2 below.
Consumer behavior implications of online purchasing have become a critical concern among businesses in the wake of the featuring widespread use of the internet and preference of online transactions. Kacen, Hess and Chiang (2013) focused on the contemporary market arena and concluded that the internet has led to creation of new distribution motivated by a myriad of demanders seeking goods and services online. Traditionalism that characterized conventional purchasing is gradually loosing taste especially in the 21st century where technology adoption is rising at an unprecedented pace.
The major factors that affect consumer behaviour among online purchasers include accessibility to product information, convenience and perceived risk.
Accessibility to Product Information
Accessibility to product information was found to delay or accelerate the speed of purchasing products online. The respondent said,
“The faster I access sufficient information, the faster I buy it. But if there is no information, I have to wait.“
This finding is consistent with to Lewis’ (2006) assertion that the more the information that a customer has about a particular product, the faster the decision making process. Similarly, Hernández, Jiménez and Martín (2011) emphasized the aspect of consumer roles in the purchase process: buyer, payer and user. The necessity of information is also central to the Nicosia and the Hierarchy of Effects models.
Findings from the study further revealed that convenience that characterizes online purchasing encourages buyers to opt for online purchasing. According to the respondent,
“I feel that online purchasing is more convenient than going to shops at Tom Mboya Street or Moi Avenue.“
On a similar note, Limayem (2005) argue that consumers desire to control the delivery of their purchase such that they are delivered through a convenience process and place. Research carried out by Hsu, Chuan-Chuan & Chiang (2013) also revealed that both commodity and convenience costs significantly influence consumer behavior. The transition towards a middle class economy has forced may Kenyans to seek convenience, thus, online purchasing has become the best option for them.
Safety was found to be a critical concern in online purchasing process. The respondent said,
“Mimi nikidoubt any risk ya kulose doh naeza sare hiyo deal. “If I doubt any risk I usually abandon such deal.”
This implies that online purchasers need to be guaranteed of their financial safety, product safety, time safety delivery safety and information security safety prior to making purchase decisions and eventually buying or adopting the product. Yang, Lester & James (2007) also found out that consumers’ perceived safety of the purchase process is a concern among consumers when making purchase and adoption decisions.
It is evident from the study that accessibility to product information, convenience and perceived risks affects the rate at which online buyers go through the whole process of purchase decision and adoption of products and innovations.
Marketers should ensure availability of product information concerning buying, paying and using. Consumer attitudes are contingent upon what they are exposed to and experience with the businesses and their products. Therefore, businesses should provide the right information and fill the cognitive component of consumers with the right information lest they may end up judging products based on the negative information that they have.
Businesses have the responsibility of ensuring convenience through real-time response to customer request and just-in-time delivery. These are the two Japanese strategies that grew the retail sectors in Japan and Asia at large. If well applied, convenience will be guaranteed, which may encourage customers to continue buying goods online.
Perceived risks scare consumers from depending on the online purchasing process. it is the responsibility of online businesses to install the best security systems in order to guarantee online purchasers of their safety if they want to maintain them.
Yang, B., Lester, D., & James, S. (2007). Attitudes toward buying online as predictors of shopping online for British and American respondents. Cyber Psychology and Behavior, 10(2), 198-203.
Lewis, M. (2006). The effect of shipping fees on customer acquisition, customer retention, and purchase quantities. Journal of Retailing, 82(1), 13-23.
Hernández, B., Jiménez, J., & Martín, J. (2011). Age, gender and income: do they really moderate online shopping behavior? Online Information Review, 35(1), 113-133.
Hsu, C. L., Chuan-Chuan Lin, J., & Chiang, H. S. (2013). The effects of blogger recommendations on customers’ online shopping intentions. Internet Research, 23(1), 69-88.
The illustration above has presented a detailed discussion of using qualitative research design to collect in-depth data. Qualitative research design may consumer more time compared to quantitative design, but the nature of information collected has an additional value of deeply understanding people.