Research Proposal: Adoption of Online Travel Shopping in Saudi Arabia

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Adoption Of Online Travel Shopping in Saudi Arabia

The developments in the information technology and communications are beyond what anybody would have imagined five decades ago. The modern day society evolves at an extremely rapid pace and this pace is most often imposed by technologic advancements. The 1990s decade brought about the internet, creating a revolution that would change the face of the world for ever.

The internet is the number one source of information for anybody, from young children to university professors. The internet is not just an application, but it has become a way of life. People meet, socialize and set the basis for life long relationships within the virtual environment. They work online or they shop online.

The internet was initially present in the more economically developed western countries, but it has gradually managed to penetrate all corners of the globe, including Saudi Arabia.

Problem Statement

The question for this study is drawn from a curiosity of identifying the extent of the virtual environment in travel shopping in Saudi Arabia. The number of previous studies focusing on this specific question is extremely limited. At a personal level, the research commences at the basis of previous researches conducted on the specific features of Saudi Arabia.

In terms of the problem at hand, the data suggests a limited usage of online shopping in Saudi Arabia, and an even lower number of internet shoppers for traveling products and services. A question is being posed relative to the reasons behind their reticence to online shopping.

1.3. Research Objective

The objective of the study is that of identifying and understanding the reasons which determine the Saudi Arabian consumers to shop or not to shop online for travel products and services. It strives to identify if there are any elements which determine the shoppers to decide in favor or against travel e-shopping, the mechanisms behind these elements and their role in a decisive outcome. In other words, it strives to explain the tendency, or lack of tendency, of the Saudi Arabian consumers in purchasing their travel services online. This objective would be attained through gradual research of a large number of sources and through the usage of several tools and techniques of data processing.

1.4. Scope of the Study

The study was initially generated by a curiosity related to the development of the virtual community in countries outside of the United States. Saudi Arabia was selected due to its economic strength and its important position within the international market. As preliminary research was conducted, a question was identified in the attitudes of shoppers relative to the online environment. More specifically, do Saudi Arabians shop online for their travel services? Why do they or why do they not? What are the elements which impact their final decision?

Having posed these questions, the scope of the study contours in the identification of the answers. The answers would offer useful input for economic agents conducting business operations in Saudi Arabia as they would allow the marketing teams to better understand the customer and as such better serve his needs.

II. Literature Review

As it has been mentioned throughout the previous section, the specialized literature has placed a decreased emphasis on online shopping in Saudi Arabia, and even less emphasis on the specific aspect of travel shopping within the Saudi Arabian virtual environment. Still, some useful resources exist and they constitute a valuable starting point in the analysis.

(1) The World Factbook -- Saudi Arabia (2010) -- the set of articles is published on the official website of the Central Intelligence Agency, which updates its country studies each year. The website constitutes a valuable resource in introducing the reader and the researcher to Saudi Arabia, its brief history, its economy or its state of technologic development. One will for instance find that there are 471,217 internet hosts and 7.7 million internet users; the figures place the country on the 49th and 33rd positions in terms of internet hosts, internet users respectively.

(2) The Report: Saudi Arabia 2008 -- published under the aegis of the Oxford Business Group, the book offers valuable insights into the modern day characteristics of the largest Arab country. It also contains a chapter on the retail sector, including online retail. It finds that an estimated 14.25 per cent of the entire population shops online.

(3) It would also be interesting to present the stand of the Saudi Arabian government in terms of technologic developments, the internet and electronic commerce. Such information was presented at the World Summit on the Information Technology in Geneva and was integrated in the report entitled Information and Telecommunication Technology in Saudi Arabia.

(4) Julian Taylor's Selling on the Cyber-Souq (1999) -- this source offers information on the introduction of the internet and that of the electronic commerce within the Arab community. It argues that the first developments were made in the United Arab Emirates, but that Saudi Arabia quickly followed. Taylor's more relevant finding in the context of the current research is that Arab consumers are trusty of online shopping as long as the websites ensure credit card information and payment safety.

(5) Joshua Teitelbaum's Dueling for Da'wa: State Vs. Society on the Saudi Internet (2002) explains the introduction of the internet in Saudi Arabia, country which is promoted as highly traditional and religious. While developments are still to be made, the author recognizes the advancements in terms of both technology as well as mentality in the acceptance and usage of the internet. Among other useful data, Teitelbaum offers statistical information on internet usage as well as other features of the internet users. For instance, most internet users in Saudi Arabia are women (an estimated two thirds). Saudi Arabia women live strict lives -- they cannot drive, they do not work and they cannot leave the house without the permission or company of a man. In this context, the internet creates a new world for them. Unlike the general perception that internet usage in Saudi Arabia is primarily focused on politics, the number one reason for using the internet is in fact entertainment and online dating. In terms of electronic commerce, Teitelbaum argues that the poor technological developments are impeding the growth of the sector.

(6) In Lee's Electronic Business: Concepts, Methodologies and Applications (2009) -- Lee's work expands over more than 2500 pages and represents a comprehensive look at the international, cross-sector implications of the advances made in electronic business making. In terms of Saudi Arabia, the work incorporates a representative study of the market, addressing primarily the trust of populations in the websites. It concludes that the consumers in the Arabian country are sensitive to marketing efforts incorporating traditional elements; for instance, websites containing photos of Arabs are more trustworthy than websites containing photos of westerners. The general behavior of a consumer can be predicted as follows: a prospective customer will log on to the vendor's website and will decide whether to browse it any further or leave and go to a competitor's website. If the user decides to remain, his trust in the vendor would increase as he browses through the web page. In other words, a piece of advice for vendors is to develop adequate interfaces which retain visitors.

(7) Sadiq M. Sait, Khalid M. Al-Tawi and Syed Ali Hussain's study on E-Commerce in Saudi Arabia: Adoption and Perspectives (2004) also represents a valuable source. It bases its findings on two years of study and it concludes that the highly traditional and religious country is increasingly recognizing the advantages of the internet. As a consequence, it begins to adopt electronic commerce. In terms of the factors playing an important role in the decision to shop online, the three authors argue that these revolve around ease of use, trust, perceived advantages for the online buyer, safety of online operations, the buyers' personal internet skills or the technical support on the website.

(8) AME Info's article E-Commerce reaches new heights in Saudi Arabia offers insight into the growing numbers of electronic purchases not only within Saudi Arabia, but at a general Middle East level. The increase is pegged to the recent developments in technology and transaction safety, as well as to the growing numbers of electronic vendors. Nation wide, the editors observe an increased acceptance of electronic purchases.

(9) In Electronic Commerce in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mutlaq B. Al-Otaibi and Rasheed M. Al-Zahrani recognize the advancements which have been made in the direction of online shopping, but state that the adoption process remains slow. The main reason for the still slow rhythm of electronic commerce adoption is the continued existence of barriers, such as the lack of online complementary products and services, "financial fraud, malicious site misquoting as legitimate site, intellectual property threats, credit card information disclosures, personal information threats, sites hacking (content), applications hacking (software), client machines hacking (systems), and communications hacking" (Al-Otaibi and Al-Zahran). The authors continue by presenting the efforts which have been made for the elimination of these limitations, as… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Adoption of Online Travel Shopping in Saudi Arabia."  Essaytown.com.  April 7, 2010.  Accessed September 15, 2019.
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