Toward a Valid Measure of E-Retailing Service Quality

By Rossiter, John R. | Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research, December 2007 | Go to article overview

Toward a Valid Measure of E-Retailing Service Quality


Rossiter, John R., Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research


Abstract

E-retailers are major players in the field of electronic commerce and their success would seem to depend on service quality, because they are selling the same products that traditional retailers sell. This article critiques Collier and Bienstock's [5] new measure of e-retailing service quality and shows how the stages of e-retailing service quality can be more validly measured by adopting Rossiter's [12] C-OAR-SE procedure for scale development. Collier and Bienstock's measure is insufficiently valid because the measure (1) fails to specify the hierarchical objects that form the construct, and measures the overall object, e-retailing, wrongly by focusing on completed transactions; (2) does not fully acknowledge the hierarchy of attributes that form the construct and operationalizes these attributes wrongly as "reflective" when at all four levels they are "formed"; (3) inappropriately represents the rater entity by using college student participants; (4) employs unnecessarily numerous, often redundant, and sometimes ambiguous scale items, with Likert-type answer scales that make the observed scores managerially almost uninterpretable; and (5) tries to measure overall e-retailing service quality when it makes sense only to measure the separate quality ratings of sequential stages of the e-retailing service process. The article points out how these problems could be avoided by constructing a new measure that properly applies the C-OAR-SE procedure.

Key words: C-OAR-SE procedure, e-retailing service quality, scale development

1 Introduction

E-retailing is the largest marketing activity in the rapidly growing field of electronic commerce and, logically, perceived service quality would seem to be the key success factor that lifts this new form of retailing above traditional retailing because the products the two types of retailers sell are the same. However, e-retailing service quality must be validly measured if its actual role is to be demonstrated empirically. Moreover, a valid measure of service quality at each stage of e-retailing is required if e-retailers seek to improve their service quality.

It is therefore crucial that a valid instrument for measuring e-retailing service quality in its main stages be developed. The new instrument needs to be very highly content valid [12] because only then can it be used to test theory, such as whether e-retailing service quality really does cause repeat patronage, and only then can it be useful in practice, assuming that empirical research confirms the theory that it does cause repeat patronage, by showing e-retail managers precisely what components of service quality need to be changed, and by how much, to retain customers [14], [18] As well, the new scale, which will actually be several scales, needs to be as concise as possible without sacrificing coverage of the main components, because only a relatively concise scale will be used by practitioners and by those academics who can't afford the questionnaire space that a lengthy instrument requires.

1.1 Collier and Bienstock's New Measure

Collier and Bienstock [5] developed a new multiple-item measure of e-retailing service quality which they claim to be more valid than previous measures. Their instrument consists of 54 items. They claim that it has better content validity than the academic E-S-QUAL and E-RecS-QUAL scales developed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Malhotra [10] and the practitioner scales used by several leading internet rating services such as Consumer Reports' ERatings, BizRate.com, and Worldbestwebsites.com. Collier and Bienstock's new instrument consists of three separate scales, compared with Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Malhotra's two, measuring three hypothesized stages of e-retailing service. Despite referring to e-retailing service quality overall, they do not use the full scale, the 54 items, to compute a total e-retailing service quality score. The separate scales refer to sequential stages of eretailing, which they call process (which really refers only to the website visit), outcome (receipt of the delivered product), and recovery (a stage which occurs only if a complaint is made to the e-retailer). …

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