This study seeks to unravel the factors that have triggered changes in individuals’ engagement with online consumption during the COVID-19 crisis and investigate the influence of digital technologies on the retail ecosystem during the lockdowns, as seen through the eyes of consumers. In doing so, a qualitative empirical research approach was adopted, and data was collected via in-depth interviews with 35 respondents during the COVID-19 lockdown in China. The study has delineated a systematic mapping of the retail ecosystem’s reactions to the COVID-19 shock. Three overarching dimensions related to consumers’ online purchasing behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic were identified: triggers of enhanced digital engagement, transformative capacity of digital technologies, and socio-economic adaptability during crises. The relevant themes underlying each aggregate dimension were further elaborated with evidence from the interviews. The study findings advance the extant literature on purchasing behavior and online retailing in times of crisis and offer important practical implications on improving crisis management capabilities of the retail ecosystem via digital technologies. As a final output, four propositions were extracted to serve for further research.
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© 2021 Elsevier Inc.
- consumer behavior
- Digital transformation
- Epidemic crises