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Product returns on the Internet: A case of mixed signals?

Carolyn Bonifield, Catherine Cole and Randall L. Schultz

Journal of Business Research, 2010, vol. 63, issue 9-10, 1058-1065

Abstract: In two studies, we investigate the interrelationship between return policy leniency and retailer quality. In the first study, we content analyze the return policies of e-tailers randomly selected from those listed at Then we relate the return policy characteristics to these quality ratings. Consistent with signaling theory, we find that as the ratings of e-tailer quality increase, return policy leniency increases in non-consumable product categories. However, the positive quality/return policy leniency relationship does not hold in consumable product categories. In a follow-up experiment, we investigate how consumers interpret the return policy signal. Specifically, we find that consumers' ability to control their shopping experience and their general trust of e-tailers moderate their reactions to return policies that differ in leniency. Finally, we discuss the theoretical and managerial implications of this research.

Keywords: Internet; E-commerce; Signaling; theory; Return; policies; Perceived; control; Trust (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010
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