Interview & survey method to understand the factors affecting online shopping behaviour

By Ashni walia & Priya Chetty on October 10, 2019

The previous article discussed the conceptual framework for factors affecting the online shopping behaviour of generation Z and millennial consumers. The conceptual framework showed the important variables of the study. It also presented the research questions and the hypotheses to be tested. The aim of this study is to determine the factors affecting the buying behaviour of generation Z and millennials. Furthermore, this study will also identify the strategies adopted by e-commerce businesses to influence them. For this purpose, the study adopts a multi-dimensional research approach that includes interview and survey methods.

This article explains the research methodology undertaken to achieve the objectives of the study. Furthermore, this study includes a mixed-method approach, i.e. primary and secondary studies. In the case of the primary study, interviews were conducted with 7 representatives of different e-commerce businesses based in India. It also includes a survey using a close-ended questionnaire on 300 online shopping consumers. Out of this, 150 belonged to group gen Z and the rest belonged to group millennials.

Research design

The aim of the interviews was to identify the e-commerce companies’ perspective on the relevance of the product, personality, demographic and website characteristics in online shopping behaviour of gen Z and millennials. On the other hand, the aim of the survey was to estimate the extent of the impact of these factors on the online shopping behaviour of both groups.

The questions posed to the interviewees were derived from the conceptual framework. This conceptual framework was prepared on the basis of a review of multiple secondary studies. Thereafter, the hypothesis was framed to help answer the research questions, but the interview was not designed to test the hypothesis. Therefore, the interview study was exploratory in nature. On the other hand, the survey was descriptive in nature. It aimed to accurately describe information about the sample population, representing the target population of a survey. Therefore, the research design of this study was exploratory and descriptive.

Sampling interview respondents

Sampling refers to obtaining information from a part of a large population and hence infer about the whole population while reproducing the important characteristics of the population as closely as possible. Sampling techniques are mainly of two types:

  1. probability sampling and,
  2. non- probability sampling.

For the purpose of the interviews, purposive sampling technique was used. It is a non-probability sampling technique. Under this sampling method, the researcher decides what needs to be known and find the set of people who can and are willing to provide the information based on the virtue of knowledge and experience.

Using this approach, the interviewee profile was identified. The purpose of the interviews, as stated above, was two-fold:

  1. To understand how e-commerce companies perceive the product, personality, demographic and website characteristics to influence the online shopping behaviour of millennials and generation Z
  2. To identify the strategies pertaining to personality, product, demographics, and website characteristics in influencing their online shopping behaviour.

The sample size initially targeted was 10. This was decided as the ideal number representing the Indian e-commerce segment, encompassing players constituting a sizable portion of the market. Also, keeping in mind the time and budgetary constraints, this was assumed to be an achievable figure. The 10 best e-commerce players suiting the target profile were contacted, however, ultimately only 7 participated in the study. Therefore, the final sample size for the interview stood at 7.

Sampling survey respondents

The respondents for the survey too were selected using the non-probability technique, i.e. purposive sampling. The selection criteria included:

  • Individuals belonging to age groups 18-24 years and 25-38 years.
  • Individuals who have purchased goods and services online

Due to limited geographical reach as well as time and budget constraints, the sample size of the survey was 300. Out of these, 150 belonged to generation Z and the rest to millennials group. Snowball sampling method was used to identify some of the respondents.

Profile of interviewees’

Since the study intends to identify the strategies adopted by e-commerce companies to influence consumer buying decisions, it was important that interviewees be informed of the strategies. Therefore, the representatives belonged to the middle or senior level of the companies, representing individuals responsible for strategic decision making of the companies. Moreover, since the study is concerned with consumer behaviour, representatives from the marketing department were sought. Therefore, the interviewee profile included male or female, middle or senior-level management professionals from the marketing department.

In order to maintain the confidentiality of the interviewees, the company names, as well as the participants’ names, have been kept confidential. Instead, for the analysis, they have been given codes. The profile of the interviewees as well as their codes is as follows.

Company name (pseudonym)Representative codePosition and departmentDuration in the position
AAAE1 Head of Department, Sales 5 years
BBB E2 Director, Category Management 3 years
CCCE3 Manager, Product Design 6 years
DDDE4 Director, Sales and BDO 5 years
EEEE5 Senior Executive, Customer Grievances 7 years
FFFE6 Associate Director, Head of Listings 3 years
GGGE7 Senior Manager, Strategy & Transformation 4 years

Thus, it can be seen that all the representatives are fairly experienced in their field, which qualifies them for participating in this study.

Survey respondents’ profile

The respondents for the survey were chosen on the basis of two major factors:

  • Individuals should be aged between 18 and 22 years (generation Z), and 23-38 years (millennials)
  • Individuals should be active online shoppers.

Mining data from interviews

A systematic data collection procedure was followed.

  1. In order to target the participants for the interview, suitable e-commerce companies with a pan-India presence, and those who have been present in the market at least since 2015 were shortlisted. The companies belong to the medium and large scale category and deal in consumer products such as food retail, clothing, consumer electronics and home furnishings, with annual turnover grossing INR 50 crores.
  2. The initial target sample of 10 companies was identified and contacted via email. The aim and objectives of the study were explained in the email, along with the intended output of the interview. Online and telephonic interview with the representative of the company was requested.
  3. Reminders were sent to the companies in case of no-response. After repeated reminders, 8 companies agreed to participate in the interviews and a suitable time was decided for e-interviews.
  4. On the concerned date and time, the representatives were contacted via telephone calls. A list of structured, open-ended questions were prepared in advance and was asked to them at the time of the interview. Each interview took 20-30 minutes to conclude. Their responses were recorded in audio format.

Survey of online shopping consumers

As mentioned before, data from survey respondents were collected by using purposive sampling method, wherein the following steps were followed.

  1. In order to target generation Z consumers, 5 universities inaccessible geographical location were identified.
  2. The universities were contacted and explained the intention of the survey and suitable permission was achieved to carry out the study.
  3. Selected students (who indulged in online shopping) were identified and requested to participate in the study voluntarily. They were explained that the data would be kept confidential and would be used only for the purpose of the present research.
  4. Finally, the responses were collected over a period of 2 days. All responses were stored in hard copies and were later coded and entered in MS Excel for further processing in SPSS.

Questions set forth for the interview

A set of structured, open-ended questions was used as the data collection instrument. The questions pertained to aspects affecting consumer behaviours such as product characteristics, personal characteristics and website characteristics.

  1. Do you believe that there is a difference in the online shopping behaviour of Gen Z and Millennials?
  2. Do you believe that personality factors (internal, external, social media usage and needs) affect online shopping decisions of generation Z and millennials?
  3. Do you believe that website characteristics (previous purchase history, payment options, returns policy, offers, privacy and security, delivery period) affect online shopping behaviour of generation Z and millennials?
  4. Do you believe that product characteristics (product quality, availability, price, appearance, trendiness, etc.) affect the online buying behaviour of generation Z and millennials?

Questions for the survey of generation Z and millennial consumers

For the survey, a close-ended questionnaire was administered to both groups. The measuring instrument used in this study included structured close-ended questionnaires for both the groups of respondents.

  • Section A of the questionnaire pertained to the demographic details of the respondent in the first section.
  • Section B consisted of questions on personal characteristics. In this, the respondents were required to rate their preferences. The questions were framed in order to understand the personal characteristics that affected the online shopping decision of the millennials and generation Z.
  • Section C consisted of questions on website characteristics. It included privacy, after-sales service, reviews, product availability, payment options, returns policy, promotion offers etc.
  • Section D consisted of questions on the product characteristics. Questions pertained to appearance, price, availability, mode of delivery, etc.
  • All questions in Sections B, C and D were asked in the Likert scale format of 1 to 5 with 1 being strongly disagreed and 5 strongly agree.

Analysing the interview responses

After conducting the interviews, the information gathered was transcribed with the view of processing them for further analysis. In the first part of the analysis, the demographic profile of the interviewees was analyzed. This was followed by thematic analysis where the interviewees’ perception regarding the factors affecting the consumer online buying behaviour was categorized based on personality, product, demographics and website characteristics. Coding was done on the data to enable an easy presentation of the findings.

In order to begin with the analysis of the interview data first, the tentative categories were defined and were further explained in the coding agenda. With the view of differentiating the categories coding rules were developed. Next, the transcripts were examined and underlined the statement according to the category they seemed relevant for at first glance. Then the opinions, quotes were taken and hence summarizing them into the category system. And if the statement did not match the existing categories, new categories were developed. After this process of coding was done, the statements were interpreted and analyzed.

Analysing survey responses

The quantitative data collected was in raw form and required to be processed and analyzed to draw conclusions and generalizations. The data was coded in MS Excel and imported into the SPSS software to perform the inferential analysis. The data coded in SPSS was then drawn to AMOS in order to perform the structural equation modelling (SEM). On the basis of the research objectives of this study, the following hypotheses were framed:

  • H01: personal characteristics, website characteristics and product characteristics do not have a significant impact on the online shopping decision of millennials.
  • H02: personal characteristics, website characteristics and product characteristics do not have a significant impact on the online shopping decision of Generation Z.

Priya is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Project Guru, a research and analytics firm based in Gurgaon. She is responsible for the human resource planning and operations functions. Her expertise in analytics has been used in a number of service-based industries like education and financial services.

Her foundational educational is from St. Xaviers High School (Mumbai). She also holds MBA degree in Marketing and Finance from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, Delhi (2008).

Some of the notable projects she has worked on include:

  • Using systems thinking to improve sustainability in operations: A study carried out in Malaysia in partnership with Universiti Kuala Lumpur.
  • Assessing customer satisfaction with in-house doctors of Jiva Ayurveda (a project executed for the company)
  • Predicting the potential impact of green hydrogen microgirds (A project executed for the Government of South Africa)

She is a key contributor to the in-house research platform Knowledge Tank.

She currently holds over 300 citations from her contributions to the platform.

She has also been a guest speaker at various institutes such as JIMS (Delhi), BPIT (Delhi), and SVU (Tirupati).


I am a master's in Economics from Amity university. Besides my keen interest in Economics i have been an active member of the team Enactus. Apart from the academics i love reading fictions.