Publication Date

2016-10-18

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2018-10-18

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Industrial Engineering (Engineering)

Date of Defense

2016-10-05

First Committee Member

Vincent Omachonu

Second Committee Member

Shihab Asfour

Third Committee Member

Nazrul Shaikh

Fourth Committee Member

Maria M. Llabre

Abstract

There has been a steady growth in e-commerce in the United States, especially during the past seven years. Online Service Retailers (OSRs), as e-commerce retailers, continue to invest heavily in the enhancement of the services provided to their customers. The success of OSRs depends heavily on their ability to understand and mitigate any gaps in quality. This study was conducted in three phases. In Phase I, we developed a conceptual framework for OSRs, based on a review of pertinent literature on service quality studies for online retailers. The purpose of the conceptual framework was to understand and establish the relationship that connects the customer, the OSR, and the retail industry. Phase I of this study then produced and identified nine quality gaps of OSRs and the influential mitigation strategies for each gap. Phase II, the model testing phase, was conducted to test the conceptual framework of OSRs. The purpose of the model-testing phase was to assess the feasibility of a larger study, and to apply the lessons learned from this phase to the work in Phase III. Hence, Phase II involved the development of a model testing survey instrument used to measure the significance of the quality gaps on customers’ willingness to shop online. Additionally for Phase II, data from a total of 253 survey respondents were analyzed using linear regression. The results from this model testing phase were used to modify and refine a comprehensive survey instrument for the third phase. In Phase III, a comprehensive survey instrument was developed and used to gather nationwide survey data. In this phase, the analysis of the data was carried out using structural equation modeling (SEM). The comprehensive survey instrument was used to test three structural models. A Customers’ Willingness Structural Model was developed to measure the nine quality gaps’ significance on customers’ willingness to shop online. Additionally, a Customer Satisfaction Structural Model was developed to measure the nine quality gaps’ significance on customer satisfaction with online shopping. Lastly, Phase III of this study generated Mitigation Strategy-Customers’ Willingness (MSCW) Structural Model, and offers multi-mitigation strategies for each quality gap. The sample size for the comprehensive survey instrument was 4,937 completed responses, with at least 100 respondents in each demographic category (gender, levels of education, and age groups), and using four different product categories (Computers & Consumer Electronics, Apparel & Accessories, Books/ Music/ Video, and Health & Personal Care). This dissertation thesis tested multiple structural models in terms of the significance of each of the nine quality gaps on customers’ willingness to shop online, as well as customer satisfaction for various demographic and product categories. The results showed significant association between different quality gaps and customers’ willingness to shop online as well as customer satisfaction with online shopping. It also determined the influence of the quality gaps on customers’ willingness and customer satisfaction based on different demographic and product categories. The association between significant quality gaps and customers’ willingness and customer satisfaction with online shopping for different groups by demographic and product categories was examined using Chi-square difference test. The conclusions revealed differences in customers’ willingness and customer satisfaction by gender, level of education, age, and product categories.

Keywords

Online Service Retailers; Quality Gaps; Service Quality

Available for download on Thursday, October 18, 2018

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