An investigation into the adoption of e-commerce among older people

  • Memory Tauringana

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The adoption of e-commerce offers much potential to enhance the quality of the lives of older people. It offers potential for empowerment, the ability to manage and control their finances, reduce care costs and being reliant upon others, thereby living independent lives. Inaccessible websites are however creating barriers for older people with age-related impairments such as vision and motor decline, cognitive and hearing impairments which prevent them or limit access to using the internet thereby adopting e-commerce.

The aim of the thesis is to examine the current state of e-commerce adoption among older people. The objectives of the research were to investigate the extent of e-commerce adoption, the uses, the barriers and the determinants of e-commerce adoption and explore the accessibility and usability issues of online grocery shops. The methodology uses a mixed methods approach in two studies, sourcing both quantitative and qualitative data via surveys, observation and interviews. The findings of the Study One suggest that the extent of e-commerce adoption among older respondents was fairly low. One of the outcomes of the study was the development of an Index of Adoption of E-commerce (IAE) which could be used in future to measure adoption of e-commerce among different user groups. The results show that all respondents owned a credit, debit or visa card, and those older people that have used e-commerce, mainly did so for booking holidays and paying bills. A notable finding was that the least utilised e-commerce activity was online grocery shopping.

Results also indicate certain barriers in adopting e-commerce, which include difficulty in understanding the information on websites, reading and navigation, concern over security issues such as personal information and unauthorised use of credit cards, as well as lack of trust relating to the quality of products sold online. The results in respect of the determinants of e-commerce adoption by older people suggest that age, marital status, school type, education qualification, IT qualification and ethnic origin are significant determinants of e-commerce adoption. However, gender, residential status, income and employment status are insignificant determinants of e-commerce adoption. The results of Study Two also indicate that online shopping websites were difficult to access with all participants agreeing that they were difficult to use, particularly the registration aspect.

The thesis highlights the importance of knowledge of the current state of adoption of e-commerce among older people. Its original contribution is centered around the understanding of barriers in relation to e-commerce adoption, as well as the development of an index to measure the extent of adoption of e-commerce which could be used in future to measure adoption of e-commerce among different user groups. The thesis also calls for recognition and support for opportunities for the researchers, policy makers and online businesses to adopt an effective strategy to address this matter with urgency. Some recommendations are also provided.
Date of AwardFeb 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAlice Good (Supervisor)

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