Offline social interactions and online shopping each have been studied extensively. Despite the importance of each construct, little is known about the effects of offline social interactions on online shopping. This study examines three research questions: (1) how offline social interactions affect online shopping in general, (2) how active and passive offline social interactions exert different influences on online shopping, and (3) how online shopping preferences moderate the influences from the two types of offline social interactions. Our empirical analyses provide three substantive findings. First, overall offline social interactions have a positive impact on online shopping demand. Second, while active offline social interactions have a positive informational influence on online shopping demand, passive offline social interactions have a negative normative influence on it. Third, online shopping preferences weaken both the positive informational and negative normative influences from both of offline social interactions. We also discuss theoretical and managerial implications.
Consumers are influenced by their social interactions before making purchase decisions (Chen, Wang, & Xie, 2011; Godes & Mayzlin, 2009; Lee & Bell, 2013; Ong & Yap, 2017). Motivation for social interactions may be to reduce perceived risk and to make better purchases by getting information and sharing experience (Choi, Bell, & Lodish, 2012; Gu, Park, & Konana, 2012; Lee & Bell, 2013; Lewis, Brown, & Billings, 2017). Note that information from offline social interactions can be perceived to be more reliable, as they (as we define them here) are based on face-to-face interactions while online social interactions are based on device-mediated interactions (e.g., text-based chatting) (Ramirez & Wang, 2008). The online shopping channel, a devicemediated channel, carries relatively higher risk and uncertainty (Cho & Workman, 2015; Lee & Bell, 2013; Yaoyuneyong, Foster, & Flynn, 2014). Thus, purchasing high involvement products via the online shopping channel may exacerbate consumer perception of higher risk and uncertainty, which can result in a greater reliance on offline social interactions. The impact of geographical variation on online shopping has been well established in the marketing arena (e.g., Choi, Hui, & Bell, 2010; Forman, Ghose, & Goldfarb, 2009).