To Boost Online Sales, Focus on Close-Knit Communities

David Bell

Word-of-mouth testimonials from consumers are effective in driving online sales. But these signals are even more powerful in communities where people have closer ties and trust each other, according to new research by Wharton marketing professor David Bell and Jae Lee. Read More

Offline Showrooms in Omni-channel Retail: Demand and Operational Benefits

Published Research

Omni-channel environments where customers can shop online and offline at the same retailer are increasingly ubiquitous. Furthermore, the presence of both channels has important implications for customer demand and operational issues such as product returns.Read More

How to Win in an Omni-channel World

Published Research

Retail customers are now “omnichannel” in their outlook and behavior — they use both online and offline retail channels readily. To thrive in this new environment, retailers of all types should reexamine their strategies for delivering information and products to customers.Read More

Location Is (Still) Everything: The Surprising Influence of the Real World on How We Search, Shop, and Sell in the Virtual One 

Published Research

Conventional wisdom holds that the internet makes the world flat and reduces friction by erasing the impact of the physical world on our buying habits. But Wharton professor David Bell argues that the way we use the internet is still largely shaped by the physical world we inhabit.Read More

Neighborhood Social Capital and Social Learning for Experience Attributes of Products

Published Research

“Social learning” can occur when information is transferred from existing customers to potential customers. It is especially important in cases where the information that is conveyed pertains to experience attributes, i.e., attributes of products that cannot be fully verified prior to the first purchase.Read More

Social Learning and Trial on the Internet

Working Papers

Internet retail sales are impeded when consumers have difficulty acquiring information about non-digital product attributes. Firms therefore employ creative (and sometimes costly) methods such as two-way free shipping to help consumers resolve the problem of incomplete consumer knowledge on non-digital attributes.Read More

Preference Minorities and the Internet

Published Research

Offline retailers face trading area and shelf space constraints, so they offer products tailored to the needs of the majority. Consumers whose preferences are dissimilar to the majority — “preference minorities” — are underserved offline and should be more likely to shop online. The authors use sales data from Diapers.com, the leading U.S. online retailer for baby diapers, to show why geographic variation in preference minority status of target customers explains geographic variation in online sales.Read More