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Do product returns hurt relational outcomes? some evidence from online retailing

Gianfranco Walsh () and Daniel Brylla ()
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Gianfranco Walsh: Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Daniel Brylla: Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Electronic Markets, 2017, vol. 27, issue 4, No 4, 329-339

Abstract: Abstract Customer product returns are a key challenge for online retailers. Previous research primarily focused on causes of returns and possible interventions to reduce customers’ product returns and concomitant costs for online retailers. However, little is known about the effect of product returns on key relational outcomes. Drawing on relationship marketing theory, we test a model that relates product returns to three relationship marketing outcomes—customer satisfaction, trust, and positive word-of-mouth. A field study based on online panel data from customers of eight large online retailers demonstrates that product returns negatively affect customer satisfaction with the retailer, customer trust, and word-of-mouth. The findings extend previous research by revealing that product returns can detrimentally affect relationships with customers. Implications for e-commerce research and management are discussed.

Keywords: Product returns; Customer satisfaction; Word-of-mouth (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L81 M31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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