Cross-Cultural Factors of Physical-Shopping and eShopping
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30-12-2010, 11:34 AM

Jainaba Jagne/ Serengul Smith/ Paul Curzon/ Elke Duncker

In this paper we address the integration of cultural and social factors of metaphors into cross-cultural interface design. We argue that there is an emerging need to look into the doctrine behind the metaphors being used based on the national culture of the target market rather than relying on existing “Western” theories. In other words if one needs to identify some of the issues that might be pertinent to the design of eCommerce sites then one might start with looking at how people do their shopping instead of trying to combine the separate existing theories behind how people shop and theories behind interface design; both of which at the moment are based mainly on Americans. We illustrate this point by investigating how people from different cultural backgrounds shop and how their metaphors can be translated onto eCommerce interface design. Results obtained show there is a cultural divide in the way shopping experiences and the significance of products is rooted in local contexts and that of shared meanings and practices within the cultural groupings. This demonstrates that interface designers not only need to look into heuristics and translating aesthetically related issues but also deeper cultural understandings, perceptions and beliefs of their target audience and market so as not to lose customers by alienating them. This paper should enable international designers (and marketers) to understand how metaphors are embedded within cultural and social backgrounds and also partially understand the complexities of local consumer behavior.

Due to rapid technology advancement, we now live in a ‘small world’ with a global marketplace. In order to gain a market advantage and meet the needs of the diverse market, it is necessary to localise software products, which are to be sold internationally for the target market (Bourges-Waldegg and Scrivener, 1998; Del Galdo and Nielsen, 1996; Minocha, French and Dawson, 2003; Sun, 2001; Yeo, 2001). The majority of companies however are not prepared for a global online marketplace. It has been found this is due to a lack of understanding of local customers’ culture (Fernandes, 1995).
In this paper we present an overview of the importance of addressing culture in the field of interface design and in commercial marketing. Firstly, we discuss the significance of culture in the use of metaphors and interface design, specifically, the shopping metaphor in eCommerce interface design. We then follow on with a short review of research, which demonstrates the importance of conducting empirical ethnographic work as opposed to the utilization of existing theories.
Finally, we present the results of our multi-method empirical studies, which were conducted to find out the cultural variances in issues related to shopping and eCommerce. We assess how culture affects consumer behaviour and highlight its influence on selected concepts such as attitudes, perception and trust.

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