Satisfaction, Trust and Loyalty following Returns in E-commerce – A Conceptual Model : A quantitative study on the return process from a consumer perspective.
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to explore how the return process in e-commerce affects customers’ return satisfaction, trust and loyalty by developing a conceptual model of these relationships. An additional aim is to investigate how return satisfaction is correlated to trust and loyalty and finally to investigate how trust mediates the relationship from return satisfaction to loyalty. By distributing an online questionnaire, measuring customers’ perception of the return process, satisfaction, trust and loyalty intentions, a regression analysis is applied in order to test the hypotheses of the study. The findings prove that customer effort, retailer responsiveness and controllability have significant impacts on the degree of satisfaction customers obtain from the return process. Satisfaction in the return process has a direct positive relationship with trust toward the retailer and an indirect positive relationship to loyalty that is mediated by trust. In addition to the conceptual model, empirical findings show tendencies in customer attitudes and behaviours that could prove to be interesting for future research. The findings from this study imply that in order to build a positive relationship with customers that generate satisfaction, trust and loyalty, the return process can be an important tool for the retailer. By eliminating obstacles and making the return process effortless both the customers’ perception of the retailers’ responsiveness and the level of effort in the process can be improved. Control plays a minor role in the return process, with the implication that if the customer perceived the cause of the return as within the retailer's’ control, he/she will be less satisfied with the return. One major contribution from the findings of this study is the implication that the return process can be used as a means for service recovery, which means that a return can lead to a strengthened customer - retailer relationship, contrary to a neutral or negative response from the customer. Thus, by facilitating an effortless and efficient return process, the retailer could retain customers, one factor which has been shown to contribute greatly to the success of any given business.
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