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Cambridge Select: Focus Group Research Analysis



0-20 Minute’s Video Information

The video begins with the moderator breaking the ice by explaining what everybody on the focus group ought to expect. The moderator begins by explaining that the group would be focused on answering questions in about 90 minutes. The results from the focus group would be made available to the students at the college and though the name of the college is not mentioned anywhere in the video, the assumption is that the focus group research meeting took place in one of the conference halls at Bentley University. The moderator confirms that the meeting’s proceedings were being video-recorded shortly after one member of the focus group pointed to one of the cameras in the room. The video would be made available to more than 2000 students for primary research.

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Introductions take the first few minutes with every sitting member of the focus group given the chance to introduce them and explain how they learnt and got to the focus group. From the onset it is clear that the group comprised people who were experienced in online shopping. Majority of the group members were in the research team by choice and learnt about the online group by being students in the college, through the social media, or through a friend or a family member who explained to them that volunteers were needed for the research.

The moderator clearly states that the questions posed to the focus group will be open ended. However, one begins to doubt practicality of the moderator’s statement immediately after the first question is posed to the respondents. The first question entailed how one starts the process of shopping online. However, the moderator appears to give a lead by providing examples such as searching the product on Google or going directly to Amazon and this explains what precipitates after the first question. Everybody agrees to shopping at Amazon and beginning by conducting a search on Google. One may begin to ask whether nobody ever uses other search engines or shops from another online store other than Amazon. The question is followed by another question that diverts the focus of the group to talking about Google.

Within the first twenty minutes, the video clearly indicates that everyone is easy and relaxed given the way everybody answers the questions. At some point the panel laughed and this further helped everybody else to relax. The team mainly purchases standardized products such as electronics, but for customized goods, such as clothes, the respondents prefer physical shopping. In addition, the team discusses some advantages of shopping online including the convenience of shopping online and how disputes are handled, especially by Amazon. The introductions part was a main pick from the twenty minutes of the video and here are the details of the participants:

  • Jackson (male) has a nephew at school. He was called upon to appear in the research group because they knew he was an Amazon user. He is 30 years old.
  • Amy (female) works in a library where she gets access to social media where she got the post in the research, as the students were looking for volunteers to appear in the research focus team. She is 42 years old.
  • James (male) has a sister at Bentley who is a junior and she recommended him to the research group since she knows he does a lot of shopping on Amazon. He is 30 years old.
  • Alex (male) works at Bentley; he is 32 years old.
  • Shirley (female) has a son who is a senior at Bentley; she is 40 years old
  • Daniel (male) came across a post on Facebook; he is 30 years old.
  • Ellen (male) has friends who know that he does a lot of shopping on Amazon and hence they recommended him; he is 35 years old.
  • Amy (female) was invited to join the focus group by her friend. She is 26 years old.
  • Brenda (female) has a daughter at school who is a junior student. She is 45 years old.
  • Larsen (female) is a senior student at Bentley. She is 25 years old.

Introduction

The focus group got set to research on online shopping. Online shopping is one of the most important tools that is being used on the internet today. People rarely go for physical shopping, but rather do online shopping because of the variety of goods that one gets to see at a single time at the comfort of their seat. People also have tight schedules, and instead of going to the malls they spend the remaining time for more constructive work.

Group Dynamics and Online Shopping Interest Level

The respondent group chosen was very appropriately for the study. It consisted of both parents and the youth, as it contained parents with students at school and also students at the same institution. The age group is around 25 to 50 people who seem completely aware of the topic they are discussing. There was no dominant party during the interview as all parties were given a chance to express their views equally.

All the respondents have a wealth of experience in online shopping. They have done it for quite some time, but each seems motivated by some factors that differ from those that motivate the other. However, there are two key factors that seemed to motivate them all. One of these factors is loyalty, and the other motivating factor is the quality of products. However, the two factors are unequal in their motivation and brand loyalty seems to motivate them more than the type of product that they are purchasing.

Price and Shopping Place Considerations by the Respondents

Shopping Place

The respondents feared any other vendor besides Amazon. They termed Amazon as the most reliable site since they could purchase their products securely with the assurance that they would get the value for their money. There might emerge fraudulent firms that aim at defrauding customers by receiving payment and failing to deliver the product.

There was a bias on the shopping tool that they used. It is clear that they all used Google as the most common search engine and they preferred using Amazon as the preferred online store. They did not seem rational to the context of online shopping as they did not seem to have balance between the price and the quality of the product. One respondent indicated, “I only feel satisfied after doing my shopping on Amazon”. It is expected that price might vary from one supplier to the other, depending on the source of supply. However, according to the focus group the price variance showed difference in quality. The belief that higher price indicates better quality might have led them to be biased towards the use of Amazon as the main shopping engine, even though it is clear that Amazon is one of the best online shopping stores.

Online shopping has gained roots in the past few years with the students, parents and teachers depending on it increasingly. The process is much easier and saves time as a person can browse at a company store within very few minutes to identify the product price and quality that is required. It is easy to shop for a product online as one can compare the prices of different stores at any time by just opening various companies’ websites. Several respondents indicated that they have various companies’ websites on their speed dial. Online shopping is like an advert in a company website and allows the customer to view the product so that he or she can make an informed decision on whether to order that particular product or not. To enhance the customer experience, the websites have the product picture. They made it clear that they are all attracted to an advert that has a picture on it as it increases its security and assures them of the product quality. An individual can view the picture of the product so as to see whether it conforms to the standards of color and shape that they would love.

The fact that the focus group members knew their views were to be used later might have influenced the type of decisions that they made. It is normal for human beings who are being put under surveillance to feel the pressure of being in line with others. Surveillance might have made them all agree that they first search the item on Google and then choose the best engine to use to purchase it. All respondents admitted using Google as their first step in online shopping. However, they said that they used it just for comparison purpose.

The types of questions that were posted to the group by the moderator might have led to biased results. Providing a respondent with options in his or her answers tend to make him or her limited with options. When asked about the type of events they purchase the products for, they are given options on which to choose. By virtue of giving them the options, it means that one has given the respondents a lead, thus limiting them on the options they have. Undoubtedly, it is already clear that the interviewer has an explanation behind any option that the respondent might choose.

Research Findings

The research presented below represents the issue of online shopping, its impacts, benefits and disadvantages associated to it. The research method included one on one questions with different respondents who provided feedback about why they shopped online and the most preferred sites for online shopping.

Payment Methods

After choosing the online store and the product to purchase, there are various payment methods used which include the following:

E-check that is a form of electronic banking that links the vendor of the product to a personal bank account. When one pays for their product using this service, the product amount is deducted directly from the bank. However, this particular means of payment is more secure since it prompts for routing and account number.

Credit cards are also used in the transactions; using credit cards a person just fills a form that indicates personal details and the amount that they have accepted to be debited on their accounts. A form is provided that includes the card expiration date, card number, and also the security verification number. After the transaction is complete, the accepted amount is debited to the customer account, and it becomes an obligation with the bank, rather than an obligation with the selling company to pay that specified amount.

The last option commonly used is the use of payment vendors. There exist payment vendors such as PayPal that operate internationally and allow people to transfer given amounts from their accounts to other people accounts at a fee. These are safer than the other means as the transactions must be done through a secure account.

Respondent’s Reasons for Preferring Online Shopping

Online shopping minimizes movement and hence it is more convenient than browsing through the stores by physical movement. People are continuously looking for convenience in their shopping, and they would like to do all their transactions at the comfort of their seats. Online shopping provides this service as the customers can order their products at the comfort of their offices or home. The respondents admitted that they had busy schedules that do not allow them to hover looking for their desired products.

Online shopping saves costs used in moving from one store to the other. Physical shopping involves movement from one shop to the other comparing the prices that are the norm for any rational buyer. Moving around the stores or even from home to the store is expensive and time-consuming as it demands money for fuel and parking. With online shopping, no movement is required as the products get delivered to one’s doorstep.

Respondents preferred online shopping because one can switch from one store to the other with ease. At a single click, a person can view various companies’ websites so as to compare the quality and price of the different products being offered. However, they seemed to be less choosy on this issue as they felt that Amazon was the best purchase website. With physical shopping, it would be hard to compare one store with the other due to the distance across which the stores are scattered. In online shopping, one can identify the store with the best bargain and hence get more qualitative product for a lower price.

Respondents preferred online shopping because there is no pressure from the salespersons. All information about the purchases is kept strictly confidential. Due to the confidentiality, there is no pressure on what to buy. When a person goes physically to the store, there is much pressure that is exerted from the sales person, and the customers might end up buying products they did not intend to buy. In online shopping, there is no physical contact between the individual purchasing the product and the selling company and hence one can browse for prices of all products they need.

Products

The respondents seemed to like purchasing less customized goods from online stores. The products such as electronics are considered to be impersonal and hence, the customers seemed to prefer them more than the customized products such as clothes. They indicated that personalized products require personal contact and hence they prefer buying them physically.

Free shipping is also one of the great advantages that the respondents seemed to consider. After buying the products, the transfer of ownership is only passed to the user after the product gets delivered. There are many risks that the product faces during the transition, such as loss and destruction. However, the selling company agrees to carry all these risks and only passes the risks to the customer after delivery. The pay-after-delivery feature also ensures that the products received are as per what was ordered, which reduces the risks of the customer in holding the product.

To the retailing company, there is a great advantage in terms of space utilization. A store with an online shopping tool is less crowded than a store without the shopping tool. If the store does not have the feature, it means that all customers have to line up to get their services. The high population of the customers at any given time in such stores is disturbing to the company, since it means that the store has to have more free space for its company to wait there. However, the stores with online shopping are more flexible. They require less space as more customers order their products from home. With fewer customers, they can utilize the space that could be used by the customers to stock more products. Also, they could use the free space that is left to give the available products more space.

Weaknesses of Online Shopping

Respondents feared that there exist some risks of details loss. Since payments get conducted online, they feared that their details might get stolen and their security compromised. It is a common problem where hackers might intercept the communication between the customer and the company and illegally access personal details. Such incidents could lead to loss of money to the hackers.

Promotion

The respondents seemed unmoved by any incidents of promotion if it did not come from the trusted websites. There are various websites that give promotions, especially the new websites. However, they had a negative attitude towards such promotions as they termed them as more risky as it increased chances of being swindled.

Summary

Online shopping has been boosted by the advancements in technology. Most people have an online shopping engine app either downloaded or pre-installed on PCs. Many people have smartphones. Developers have seen this as the major strength of the online shopping and, as a result,developers have come up with various apps tracking the major retail shopping engines activities. The online shopping tendency is growing and will continue growing, as it becomes easier and more secure to do it with the least effort required.

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