With the progress of the times, the rapid development of science and technology had led towards the change of people's lifestyle. This has given a lot of advantages in various field. Phones are one of the item under the successful development of science and technology because it has become a daily essentials in our life now.
When phone was first introduced to people, it was only used for communication purpose and it is called telephone. But, now that phones have turned into a multifunctional item. We can use it for not only communicating to one, but also including tools such as calculator, compass and weather; and for entertaining use such as photo shooting, video watching and gaming.
But, people nowadays more often using phones for social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Social media are launched by their founders for social purpose only which means we can share and discuss our life and thoughts through social media. So, we can see that none of them are launched for business purpose but throughout the development of technology, people has started to find a new way of using it which is using it as a platform for starting a business. This is because social media shows its potential on gathering large population especially around the area of Klang Valley.
The findings of this research would attribute the advantages of running an e-commerce through social media. It provides various information and knowledges about to ones who want to start off business by using social media as a platform.
2.0 Research Focus
2.1 Research Purpose
There are a few research purpose for this topic. This research study aims:
I. To identify the factors that affect ones to start off business through social media;
II. To understand the factors that affect ones to shop through social media; and
III. To find out the effects of using social media as a platform for e-commerce.
2.2 Research Question
After understanding the background of how social media affects our lifestyle and also one's entrepreneurship, we know that social media platform is playing an imperative role on growing the e-commerce market size in Malaysia especially the area around Klang Valley. So, the research question is:
I. Why people tend to use social media as a platform for retailing and shopping?
II. What are the advantages of dealing a business through social media platform?
The limitation of this research study is that due to this research study only focus on people around Klang Valley, so the final results couldn't represent that it will be the same data as in other states and countries.
Secondly, the methodology that this research study chose to have, which is interviewing and survey, might not get a validity data as people might not want to answer certain question due to privacy right issues. Furthermore, public might decline on the interview and survey request due to no rewards are given in return.
3.0 Literature Reviews
3.1 Customer Experience
First of all, the customer experience has changed the use of tools while making a decision on their shopping experience which makes the social media being used as a platform for their shopping experience.
According to the journal, customer experience is defined as a measurement on the satisfaction level of customer and the level of the quality service (Verhoef et al, 2009). Moreover, it is the customer's thoughts and views that can be related to one company and brand. After understanding the definition of customer experience, we know that due to the development of technology nowadays, there are much more digital tools that allow consumers to research and compare different products from different seller before purchasing an item, which helps on developing the customer experience to a higher level. So, the way of one company delivers their selling products or services had become more important than the products or services value itself. Hence, the traditional marketing tool, which also known as Web 1.0, is slowly being eliminated and replaced by the alternative media, Web 2.0 (Bolscher, 2016). According to Cormode and Krishnamurthy (2008), Web 1.0, the traditional website is being replaced by Web 2.0, social media platform, is because that, “Web 1.0 environments tent to be more hierarchical while Web 2.0 environments resembles more like a social network.” As described, social media resembles more like a social network that allows more interactivity between sellers and buyers. This will lead consumers to have a good customer experience as it allows users to generate peer-to-peer discussion in a way that is not enabled by the traditional website (Moorhead, S.A. et al, 2013).
3.2 Market Scope
Next, we are going to look on the market scope of using social media as a platform for retailing to investigate why the sellers choose over this option rather than having a physical store instead.
According to some research, social media is believed that it will not decrease its influencing power to public in the upcoming few years. Giedd and Chief have pointed out that the social media is now a trend to the new generation. Woods had also pointed out (2016), the market scope on social media is wider than a physical store because social media could gather most of the population as there is a steady growing amount of social media users. Researchers had also found out the time that people nowadays spent online had increased extremely. Hence, we can know that the market scope is wider on social media in terms of having a large number of users.
Other than that, the market scope available in social commerce is more likely wider than starting a business with a physical store because social media has turned out to be progressively diffused globally. “Social media has the accessibility of spreading information to a variety of population groups, regardless of gender, age, race, nationality, education, and ethnicity” (Moorhead, S.A. et al, 2013). As we can see that according to Moorhead, he has pointed out the social media also get to users that is from other nation as well unlike owning a physical store, retailers need to have the customers walk in to the store to have a deal being done which makes the market scope being widen to global impossible. So, it would be a great marketing strategy to focus on social media to keep in touch with the customers no matter from other nations or local. (Felt and Robb, 2016).
Furthermore, there are some small business retailers that are willing to expand their business across the world but could not afford for the price, they can choose to use social media as a platform. Not only for big companies, small business retailers can reach for a bigger market scope and led more individuals starts off business through social media platform easier now (Yadav et al., 2013). So, more people are considering to start off a business through social media platform as one of their highly recommended option.
The next topic that we are going to look at is how “convenience” affects people to use social media as a platform for retailing by the: 1) interactivity between sellers and buyers, 2)transaction not limited by a fixed operating time, and 3) people can easily start off a business with an affordable fund base.
According to Kollman et al.'s studies (2012), he states that “The choice for the online channel is mainly influenced by convenience.” An one-way communication, where an organization usually takes control on the information flow, does not generally have interaction with their customers or guests, and this organization usually will happen to be our traditional website. Compared to the traditional online shopping website, it's more difficult to let the consumers have a one-to-one interaction with the seller while social media originally allows users to generate a peer-to-peer discussions, which let the consumers easier to have more information about the products and led the whole process of transaction flows smoothly (Moorhead, S.A. et al, 2013).
Another type of convenience we can see here to use social media as a platform for business is that we can always have a transaction successfully being done whenever we can. As we know that a physical store will have a fixed operating hours in a day and even having one day off per week. So, we had lost lots of chance to increase the amount of sales for our business. But, the use of social media as a platform for retailing doesn't limit a person to purchase a product by anytime he wants. The consumers can totally make his purchase at midnight and still made the deal.
Last but not least, we always see that there are a lot of people wants to start off their own business but do not have enough funding to invest on fixed expenses such as shop rent, electricity, and staff's salaries if we are owning a physical store. So, starting the business through social media is definitely a better option because that we no need to pay for all the fixed expenses that we need to pay for renting a physical store. We only need to have expenses on purchasing in the merchandise. Also, we can reach to a wider market scope as we discussed before easily.
4.1 Qualitative Research Methods
For the aim of identifying the factors that affect ones to start off a business through social media platform and the advantages of this method, qualitative research method will be used. This is mainly because it is not easy to get in touch with social media retailers among the public as the possibility to find out one social retailers among the public is low. The method that will be used is in-depth interviewing social media retailers with open ended questions to get descriptive data. The question that will be asked during the interview session will be based on market scope aspect and convenience aspect that has being reviewed above. The final goal of interviewing should answer the question of why people tend to use social media as a platform for retailing; and what are the advantages of dealing a business through social media platform.
4.2 Quantitative Research Methods
For the aim of understanding the factors that affect publics to shop through social media platform and the advantages of this method, quantitative research methods will be used. The reason of using this method is that it is more effective to get as much data as we can to get a more appropriate data. The method will be used is paper survey form around Sunway University area to get data from a younger age group also with an online survey form spread out to get data from other age group that couldn't discover around university. Simple closed-ended questions will be asked to avoid getting invalidate data. The final goal of surveying should answer the question of why people tend to use social media as a platform for shopping; and which social media apps
4.3 Internet Ethnography
As our research topic is discussing about social media which is a part of the internet ethnography, gathering data by using internet technology would be useful as the targeting population for the research is a social media apps user, which requires them to be in the internet social network. So, combined with the two methods before, we can do distribute a web-based surveys or interview participants either synchronously in chat rooms. With this methods, we can get in touch with people who are more closed to our targeting participants.
5.0 Pilot Study
To find out whether if the methodology that I have had chosen is approaching to the aim of our study, which is to understand why people choose to use social media as a platform for retailing and shopping, I have had conducted a small scales survey online with a small sample to collect the preliminary data of this research study. The questions that are being asked in the questionnaire are all based from the aspect of customer experience, market scope, and convenience.
After having this pilot study done, I found out that is easier to have people help out with the survey rather than have the survey being done by standing at a fix spot and ask for the passengers to fill in the survey form, because we might not get to as much people as we want and there will be a higher chance that the passengers do not want to help out for the survey form as there is no reward given to them and they do not want to stop what they are doing at the moment. Online survey forms are easier to distribute to people as we can get to a lot of people to fill it up in a short time and do not require researchers to collect back the form from the participant manually, so the survey forms can be done whenever the participants want.
But we did find out some details that need to be addressed in the questionnaire. The questions that are with open ended answer is not suitable with this method because it has a higher risk on participants who don't have any opinion with it will answer it not honestly. Which we will have a higher risk to get invalidity data. Other than that, the problem of people that are not fluent in English might answer the question with something they didn't meant it. To avoid this problem happens on the actual research study, it is more preferred to have option given to the participants.
Overall for this pilot study, I found out that this method is useful in some way but do not fits to all such as open-ended question which do not requires here will have a more in-depth thoughts and so the data will have more variables. Other than that, there is a lot of researchers had done with this topic before, so I can get more data from a researcher's perspective by analyzing their journal which is a secondary data collection methods.
In the long run, running an online business through social media platform is slowly being a phenomenon now. Based on the literature review, this paper will provide a conceptual framework highlighting crucial factor that affect people starts to use social media as a platform for e-business. It is helpful for understanding the growth of this industry nowadays.
Moreover, we will be identifying the pros and cons between among different social media apps; and also finds out what is the most preferred social media apps for retailing and shopping. This study could provide people who wants to start off business an idea of choosing social media platform depends on different kind of motivational factors, such as type of social media, approaches to the targeted population , interaction efficiency and so on.
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