Understanding the determinants of e-commerce uptake, e-service quality and e-commerce success, in the UK on-line retail sector
2011-07-12T13:19:01Z (GMT) by
The primary aim of this study is to gain important new insights into e-commerce success, by empirically exploring how approaches to e-service quality, when coupled with levels of e-commerce adoption, might affect the overall success of retailers’ on-line operations. This study is governed by positivist epistemological perspective, and therefore, it was undertaken using a quantitative research methodology, based upon questionnaires. The primary data collection generated a total of 225 useable questionnaires, completed by senior managers, working within the UK’s on-line retail sector. Factor analysis and multiple regression analysis were then used to thoroughly explore the relationships between the various constructs, which comprised the research model. The results of the statistical analysis demonstrate that internal factors (e.g. as management strategy and resources) - are a stronger determinant, than external factors, of both. Perhaps more importantly, it has been shown that the perceived success of a retailer’s e-commerce operations is also strongly associated with the management approaches to e-service quality and the level of e-commerce adoption. Finally, a mediation analysis provides interesting new insights into the relationship between adoption levels, e-service quality and success: the management approaches to e-service quality significantly mediates the relationship between the level of e-commerce adoption and the perceived e-commerce success. Given the central role that e-service quality plays in this study, a customer focused study of e-service quality was also conducted, to provide a more complete and holistic view of this complex phenomenon. This supplementary study sought to explore how customers’ perceptions of e-service quality, particularly in terms of identifying those elements of service quality that influence their use of the retailers’ on-line services. An on-line questionnaire survey was designed and pre-tested before targeting it at 800 students, of whom over 25% responded. An ‘importance-performance’ analysis of this data was conducted to explore whether there were significant differences in customers’ perception of the importance against the performance of retailers’ ability to manage e-service quality. By and large, the results of this analysis should provide some reassurance to the on-line retailers, as the customers generally believed that the retailers were performing well in the areas that were most important to them. However, when the results of the customer and retailer studies were compared, some interesting imbalances were revealed. For example, the retailers perceived the provision of privacy policies to be extremely important, whilst generally; the customers weren’t too concerned with this aspect of e-service quality. The thesis concludes by highlighting its contribution to the body of current knowledge, reviewing the limitations of the research and exploring the implications for practice of the many interesting new insights generated through this empirical study.