The wild development of Web 2.0 technology, as well as the occurrence of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn have boosted the trailblazing class of e-commerce from Amazon, eBay to Alibaba, to Wix etc. This innovative advancement has expanded the consumer markets by tapping into the huge population of the social media users. Statistia (2016) reported that of all the social networking sites (SNS), Facebook has 1.415 billion users, followed by LinkedIn (347 million), Instagram (300 million) and Twitter (288million). In the USA alone almost, 74 percent of business establishments have engaged SNSs (Awareness.com, 2015) and nearly 88 percent of them have the willingness to spend more on social media integrations to boost sales (Constantinides et al., 2008). From the social media integrations impulse buying has risen by a significant percentage. McKinsey went on to report that 70 percent of business establishments use SNSs to boost their business and 90 percent of them are able to attain benefits (Chen et al., 2014).
In fact, the US business organizations’ investments in Digital Marketing are anticipated to achieve USD 4.6 billion in 2013 (Braceweel et al., 2008). The worldwide revenue generated by Digital Marketing is anticipated to achieve over USD 30 billion in 2015 and USD 80 billion in 2020 (Chen and Shen, 2015). A study done showed that about 83 percent of respondents are prone to share purchase details with friends, and nearly 67 percent of them will make purchase decisions according to the references from these friends (Marsden, 2009). It was estimated that 10-15 percent of the buyers in developed nations may utilize SNSs (e.g. Facebook) for purchase between the years 2011 and 2015. A study of 1,787 social media respondents indicates that one-third of purchasers like to make direct purchase via Facebook and the strengths of Facebook lie in its powerful social plugins (“Like,””Comment,””Send,””Recommendation”) and the Open Graph Protocol (Ng, 2013). Renowned retailers like Amazon, eBay, Alibaba and Jumia (from Kenya) have started to sell their products via Facebook pages that enable consumers to purchase products within their Facebook page by having direct links to their sites and news feed while interacting and sharing product information. It encourages impulse buying as one would see the product and immediately need it. The advertisement behind the products often is a 5-10 second video which attracts the consumer. (Kangand Johnson,2015). Moreover, Cohen (2014) asserts that, the socials hopping service, allows sellers to upload their product images, available quantities and prices on Facebook and Instagram, whereby consumers will be able to comment with the tag “sold” and the bought items may be included in their shopping carts before they confirm the dealings. Likewise, the Shopify Facebook store app also provides the service for sellers to trade their merchandises directly via Facebook.
Lately, the Messenger app has also allowed shoppers to question company’s additional product information and obtain immediate responses, put extra orders and get online order confirmation via their Messenger accounts (Tsukayama, 2015). Another app, The Find, can find and extract purchase habits and social profiles of the consumers to help customize the purchasing experience (Koh,2015). With the “buy” button, retailers will be able to trade their merchandises using google and Facebook ads. When retailers update on social media of their fresh product, buyers will be able to buy it with just a simple click of the button that will bring them to the credit card payment interface. This has further revolutionized e-retailing, e-marketing, e-advertising and e-commerce overall. The enormous growth of digital marketing for the past decade can be attributed to social interaction which leads to word-of-mouth marketing, social capital building and advocacy of product brand (Jin, 2013). Digital e-commerce, can be categorized into two groups, namely firms that connect to Facebook with fan pages and apps which bring prospective consumers to their e-stores (e.g. Gap, TripAdvisor, Levis, Mazda, Amazon, etc.) and establishments that link to Facebook via fan pages and apps and enable potential consumers to purchase straight from their Facebook stores. For the various establishments, the main goal is to use Digital Marketing for consumer engagement, special offer promotions and fostering more social interactions among consumers and their friends. It is obvious that Digital Marketing is the new paradigm of e-commerce in the years to come with huge potential for generating new-fangled revenues and markets to all stakeholders. Although there are numerous studies done on e-commerce, not much attention has been accredited to Digital Marketing context, which has inevitably produced a research gap that is worth investigating in view of its massive business values.
Furthermore, in the existing studies on e-commerce and Digital Marketing the focus is mainly on purchase intention rather than impulse purchase (IP). Digital Marketing is the most used technique in the world. They are devices or systems rather used to communicate, do research and help a company understand new ways of making jobs for the employees easier. Technology has turned the mindsets of everyone especially millennials in the world in such a way that we all depend on it on one way or the other. Among all possible advantages offered by electronic commerce to retailers, the capacity to offer consumers a ?exible and personalized relationship is probably one of the most important (Wind & Rangaswamy, 2001). Online personalization offers retailers two main bene?ts. It allows them to provide correct and timely information to consumers which, in turn, often generates additional sales (Postma & Brokke, 2002). Personalization has also been shown to increase the level of loyalty consumers hold towards a retailer (Cyber Dialogue, 2001; Srinivasan, Anderson, & Ponnavolu, 2002). While there are several ways to shape an online relationship, the capacity for an online retailer to make recommendations is certainly among the most promising (The e-tailing Group, 2003).
Online, reference sources range from traditional sources such as other consumers who use WOM, to custom-made recommendations provided by recommended systems (West et al., 1999). To date, no study has speci?cally been investigated and compared to the relative in?uence of these online reference sources on customers’ product choices and stories told. Therefore, the main objective of this study is to investigate the in?uence of Digital Marketing references on consumers’ online product choices and stories. In addition, we explore impulse buying factors influenced by Digital Marketing on the purchase decision. The paper concludes with research limitations and future directions.