The World Wide Web (WWW) had functioned relatively well without any doubt on its quality of performance for many years. Designers and users of the Web page need not be worried of its performance quality. Initially the web was meant as an information provider rather than a medium of business transaction after it’s grown and development. It was limited only to seek information on the web, until the ever growing population of Web surfers had contributed on the dimensional change in terms of nature, content, and depth.
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The emergence of portals on providing extensive and intensive information on desired subjects transformed the attitude of users of the Web. They make inquiries on a subject and based on the result or replies of the inquiries, they make decisions which affect their careers, businesses and quality of life. The advent of electronic commerce (ecommerce) has further enhanced user Web interface, as it seeks to redefine business transactions hitherto carried out between business to business (B2B) (see Varon, 2004) and business to customer (B2C) organizations . It is possible to reach a stage where all the daily chores are guided by Web-based system. Today, Web-based transactions manifest in different forms. Among the included ones are surfing news portal for latest events, e-buying product in a shopping mall, reserve air ticket online with a competitive price as well as participating in an auctioning program. Regardless of online users subjective, the Web users expect for speed other than accuracy on executing them. In short, customer’s loyalty to a Web site relied on the two attributes; speed and accuracy. If only speed is sacrificed for accuracy and vice versa, users of the Web site may lose interest in it and seek for another one. Therefore, in order to maintain their customers and to attract others to their Web site, the quality such as accuracy in terms of speed of response and consistency in behaviour must be emphasized. On top of it, the Web site must be accessible all the time throughout the year. Parameters for evaluating performance of a Web site on users view is the availability and response time. Factors such as server outages or slow pages have no significance in the mind of the user, even if the person happens to be software professional. Vice versa, the same person as a Web master expects the server to exhibit high throughput with minimum resource utilization. In general, performance of a Web-based systems are the based on 24×7 availability, low response time, high throughput and minimum resource utilization.
An attempt made by Zhang, von Dran, Small, and Barcellos (1999, 2000), and Zhang and von Dran (2000) to evaluate website quality from user satisfaction and dissatisfaction perspective. From their research, it was found that website design features can be regarded as hygiene and motivator factors which contribute to user’s dissatisfaction and satisfaction on a website. Hygiene factors are those whose present make a website functional and serviceable, and whose absence causes user dissatisfaction. Few categories of hygiene factors recognized are: Privacy and Security, Technical Aspect, Navigation, Impartiality, and Information Content.
Value added to the website is the motivator factors to contribute user’s satisfaction. Five categories of motivation factors are: Enjoyment, Cognitive Outcome, User Empowerment, Credibility, Visual Appearance, and Organization of Information Content. It was further discovered that the most essential website quality yfactors ranked by e-commerce consumers are hygiene factors (von Dran and Zhang 1999; Zhang et al, 2000; Zhang and von Dran 2001a, 2001b; Zhang et al. 2001). Website quality factors as been reviewed by Liand and Lai (2000) categorized the behaviour into three groups; two of them are also called motivators and hygiene factors, and third media richness factors. From their view, motivators are those who support the transaction process directly while hygiene factors protect consumers from risks or unexpected events in process of transaction. It was also suggested by them that providing good transaction support will help Internet vendors beat their electronic competitors,, and on the other hand, hygiene factors need to be emphasized more if they intend to attract consumers of traditional stores.
. Interactivity has been considered a critical concept and a primary advantage of the
Internet (Morris and Ogan, 1996; Pavlik, 1996; Rafaeli and Sudweeks, 1997). The extent where users can participate in modifying the form and content of a mediated environment in real time is called interactivity (Steuer 1992, p. 84).The importance of interactive functions and their impact on the appeal of e-commerce has been emphasized (Bauer et al., 2000; Coyle and Thorson, 2001; Fiore and Jin, 2003; Joines et al., 2003; Ghose and Dou, 1998; Kim, 2002; Page and Lepkoska-White, 2002; Palmer, 2002; Shim et al., 2001; Srinivasan et al., 2002). The said interactivity of a web site will facilitate on communications, customizes presented information, allows image manipulation, and create entertainment for customers (Fiore et al., 2005 a,b). The interactivity will attract consumer to visit the site regularly, purchase online and satisfied enough to be a repeated visitor/ customer (Gehrke and Turban, 1999; Li et al., 2001, 2002; Mathwick, 2002). Empirical research (Klein, 2003; Schlosser, 2003) shows that simple technologies providing interactivity have positive effects on consumers’ attitudes.
An interactivity from web site features that enabled creation and manipulation of product or environment images to simulate (or surpass) actual experience with the product or environment (Fiore and Jin, 2003) is recognized as ‘Image interactivity’. Image interactivity is able to make users alter a product’s design and features, background, context, viewing angle or distance, and simulate the product’s operation on a web site, and lead to enriched product information through visual (non textual) cues (Fiore and Jin, 2003; Li et al., 2001, 2002). Mix and match technology that simulates how products will look together and virtual model or virtual try-on technology (e.g. My Virtual Modelw, imaginariXw) that simulates the appearance of apparel product combinations on a body form are two types of IIT for apparel web site (Fiore et al., 2005a, b). IITs are among the most visited features of several online stores and IITS’s that simulate the familiar shopping experience are high likely to represent the future of online consumer marketing, according to Li et al. (2001). Qualitative study by Li et al.’s also indicating that IIT enhances enjoyment from interaction with virtual products. It was also found that IIT in marketing of products elicited favourable brand attitudes and purchase intentions during online shopping had suggested that IIT usage leads to multi-sensory online experiences of products and store environment.
The effects of image interactivity technology
Positive improvement on consumers’ attitudes toward an online retailer was resulted from the interactive features of the web site (Fiore and Jin, 2003; Gehrke and Turban, 1999; Li et al., 2001; Udo and Marquis, 2000; Wu, 1999), other than it receives repeated visitor if the web site contains interactive features (Joines et al., 2003; Kolsar and Galbraith, 2000; Webster et al., 1993). Fiore and Jin (2003) provide empirical support for the positive influence of adding more advanced IIT on approach responses toward the online retailer. After using a ‘mix and match’ feature that allowed visual images of products to be combined online, it was revealed that there is and increment on subjects’ ratings of attitude, willingness to purchase and willingness to return to the online apparel retailer as found by Fiore and Jin.
Wu (1999) found that perceived level of interactivity was positively related to attitude toward the site. Wu’s attitude variable contained affective (e.g. the site is likeable), cognitive (e.g. site is trustworthy) and behavioural factors (e.g. intend to purchase from the site, revisit the site).
In addition to that, the usage of IIT in marketing of various products (e.g. watches, jackets) as found by Li et al. (2002) positively affected perceived product knowledge, brand attitudes, and purchase intention during online shopping. IIT enabled customers to rotate and move products, mix and match it, as well as zoom images in and out. The findings of these three studies support that level of IIT enhances not only affect-based attitude, but also willingness to purchase from and to patronize the site in the present study. Mix and match technology simulate on how products will result together with virtual model or virtual try-on technology (e.g. My Virtual Model, imaginariXw) that visually simulates the trial of apparel product combinations on the body form. Selection from various models by virtual model technology enables customers to differ in gender, body proportion, and height, for tying on self-selected combinations of texture mapped product images front and back view which can be enlarged. Vice versa, the most frequent form of IIT (enlargement of front views of individual products) is used by more than 84 percent of major retail sites. (Gill, 2002), has fewer interactivity options. 10 percent of 38 million online customers of direct merchant Lands’ End incorporating virtual technology use it and had a significant impact on their business, and has been credited with a 19 percent increment in conversion rates and 16 percent increment in online order size (Waxer, 2001). In short, the empirical and industry support shows that a higher level of IIT appears in enhancing consumer attitude as well as behavioural intention.
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