Shopping is generally a social behavior, frequently done while accompanied by friends or family. Lack of social interaction is considered to be a critical barrier that defers customers from shopping online. As a new paradigm of e-commerce, collaborative online shopping (COS), defined by Zhu et al. (2010) as “the activity in which a customer shops at an online store concurrently with one or more remotely located shopping partners”, may dramatically improve customers online shopping experience by fulfilling their needs to shop in a social and collaborative way (O’Hara and Perry, 2001).

Collaborative online shopping would not only benefit online customers, but also furnish online vendors with more potential revenues, since shoppers accompanied by others generate more need recognition and spend more than when shopping alone (Kurt et al., 2011). Collaborative online shopping is emerging as an instrumental way to largely increase customer satisfaction and generate more revenues for online vendors. For example, according to Internet Retailer (2010), collaborative online shopping helps drive 15% increase in sales at a leading German skincare website.

Although collaborative online shopping is very common in everyday life (Huang et al., 2012), it is not well supported by current systems (Benbasat, 2010). Due to the very few findings on COS, both the guidelines for system designers and our understanding towards theCOSmechanisms are rather limited.

To fill this research gap, we argue that when customers collaboratively shop with their companions online, they act both as individuals and as members of the shopping group. As shopping group members, customers require information about each other to maintain awareness; while as individuals, they demand flexible means for interacting with the website and the product information (Gutwin and Greenberg, 1998). In consideration of the paramount benefits for online customers/vendors and the deficiency in research findings, much more effort is desired for researchers to comprehensively explore how systems could be designed to better support COS and improve collaborative online customers’ shopping experience by balancing both the group needs (e.g. share and discuss information with each other) and the individual needs (e.g. freely browse product information without much interruption from partners).