An analytic hierarchy process approach to assessing consumers' distribution channel preference

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-96
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


Purpose: The competition in market penetration between the traditional and online channels has been intensified. The purpose of this paper is to assess predictors of business-to-consumer (B2C) channel preference and investigate the consumers' attitudes towards different shopping channels. Design/methodology/approach: An analytical hierarchy process (AHP) is applied to assess factors influencing consumers' channel attitudes based on an empirical survey which focuses on three different product types: books/CDs, electronics, and fashion products. Findings: The results reveal that price, product variety, and accessibility, respectively, are the dominant predictors of B2C channel preference. It is found that consumers' utility value of buying online decreases in the online quality uncertainty level. Research limitations/implications: The sample focuses on the age group of 20-40. Since this group of people are generally more skilled and confident on internet technology, it is unclear whether the insights obtained could extend to a more unbiased sample. Practical implications: This paper provides insights into the relative importance of factors affecting consumers' channel preference, which are helpful for practitioners in terms of coming up with more effective channel improvement plans and strategies under limited resources. Originality/value: This is the first study that applies AHP to assess consumers' channel preference. This approach, which does not require restrictive assumptions, takes into account the difficulty of giving precise judgments by allowing respondents to be inconsistent to some extent. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Research Area(s)

  • Analytical hierarchy process, Consumer behaviour, Customer satisfaction, Electronic commerce