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Sources: Blake Franklin, bsfrankl@k-state.edu;
and Esther Swilley, 785-532-6135, esthers@k-state.edu
Photo available. Contact media@k-state.edu or 785-532-2535.
Note to editor: Blake Franklin is a 2009 graduate of Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences, Kansas City, Kan.
News release prepared by: Kristin Hodges, 785-532-2535.

Monday, May 24, 2010

K-STATE STUDY LOOKS AT CONSUMER OPINION OF SHOPPING ON 3-D RETAIL WEBSITES

MANHATTAN -- As new technologies emerge that could change the future of shopping, researchers at Kansas State University are determining if consumers like and would use such tools for purchases.

Esther Swilley, K-State assistant professor of marketing, and Blake Franklin, freshman in business administration and fine arts, Kansas City, Kan., are studying consumer acceptance of shopping on 3-D websites. Their findings show that study participants enjoyed using a virtual site, though they found it more difficult than shopping with 2-D pictures.

"Retailers are looking at 3-D websites as another shopping experience," Franklin said. "With our research, we can show the value of using such a site."

Franklin is working with Swilley through the Developing Scholars Program, which pairs underrepresented students with faculty advisers for research projects. The study is investigating virtual world technologies like Second Life that allow users to move around and shop as if in a real-life store. Swilley studies e-commerce and said future online shopping might consist of consumers sending their avatars to a virtual store.

To understand consumer perception of such sites, the researchers used the Technology Acceptance Model for an online survey that looked at the relationships between the usefulness, the ease of use, aesthetics, enjoyment, attitudes and the intention to use a 3-D retail website. Participants were given a short video explaining 3-D before answering questions, such as their future intentions to shop 3-D sites.

The 261 study participants were college undergraduates, and 41 percent said they sometimes shop online. Five percent reported shopping very often, and 22 percent often shop online. The findings showed that participants enjoyed the site and thought 3-D shopping was useful, but they said it was not as easy to use as shopping with 2-D pictures.

Franklin said the results can help retailers make these virtual world sites more effective for the shopping experience. He said 3-D retail sites offer more advantages for consumers.

"You feel as if you are physically shopping as you move through the aisles and turn products 360 degrees, which could be more effective than shopping only using front and back 2-D pictures," Franklin said. "You can also add friends and shop together."

Franklin presented the project at K-State's Developing Scholars Program Research Poster Symposium in April. His study is applicable to his future career plans, as he would like a career using graphic design to market products. He is the son of Bernard and Elsia Franklin, Kansas City, Kan.