2016 Volume E99.D Issue 1 Pages 111-119
The sense of presence, that is, the sense of the website being psychologically transported to the consumer, has been identified as an important factor for bringing back the feeling of sociability and physicality that is lost in online shopping. Previous research has investigated how visual content in the design can influence the sense of presence in a website, but the focus has been limited to the domestic electronic commerce context. In this paper, we conduct an experimental study in a cross-border electronic commerce context to evaluate the effect of country-related pictures on the perception of country presence, visual appeal and trust in a foreign online store. Two experimental conditions were considered: country-related pictures and generic pictures, each one evaluated for Thai and Singaporean websites. It was hypothesized that country-related content in pictures included in the design of the foreign online store would result in a higher level of country presence, and that this would in turn result in higher visual appeal and trust in the website. We conducted a survey among Japanese online consumers, with a total of 1991 participants obtained. The subjects were randomly assigned into four groups corresponding to the combination of country-of-origin of the website and picture condition. We used structural equation modeling in order to analyze the proposed hypotheses. The results showed that for both the Thai and Singaporean websites, country-related pictures resulted in higher country presence, and visual appeal was positively influenced by this increase in country presence. However, country presence did not have a direct effect on trust; this effect was completely mediated by visual appeal. We discuss these results and their implications for cross-border electronic commerce.