|Abstract or Summary
- Although there has been a rapid growth in online apparel sales and online apparel shopping during the last several years, consumers still have concerns when they purchase apparel products online (ComScore, 2007; Dunne & Lusch, 2005; ITFacts E-commerce, 2007). From the online apparel shoppers’ perspective, online apparel shopping involves a considerable level of risk because they cannot inspect and try on apparel products before the purchase. If consumers are not satisfied with the fit, color, or quality of the product after it is delivered, they will most likely want to return the product (Taylor & Cosenza, 2000). The research question of the present study is why some dissatisfied consumers decide to continue online shopping and why others decide to discontinue online shopping when presented with an unsatisfactory online shopping and return experience. Based on the concepts of distributive, procedural, and informational justice, this study examined the direct effect of compensation on distributive justice, the direct effect of efficient return procedures on procedural justice, and the direct effect of information availability of return on informational justice, and the direct effects of perceived distributive, procedural, and informational justice on post-recovery satisfaction. Indirect effects on post-purchase intentions after an unsatisfactory online apparel shopping and return experience were also examined. Furthermore, the present study examined the moderating effect of perceived seriousness of product failure on the relationship between compensation and distributive justice, the relationship between efficient return procedure and procedural justice, and the relationship between information availability for return and informational justice. The moderating effects of shopping orientations, perceived performance risk, and previous experience with online apparel shopping on the relationships between three types of perceived justice and post-recovery satisfaction, and on the relationship between post-recovery satisfaction and post-purchase intentions were also examined. The present study employed a combined experimental and a survey-based method. For the experiments, five scenarios were developed using projective technique. The convenience sampling was conducted. 148 students at Oregon State University participated. Subjects read a scenario in the third person perspective about a consumer returning a product. They were then asked to assess evaluative criteria including distributive justice, procedural justice, informational justice, post-recovery satisfaction, post-purchase intentions, perceived seriousness of product failure, convenience shopping orientation, economic shopping orientation, recreational shopping orientation, perceived performance risk, and previous experience with online apparel shopping. The findings indicated that participants who read a scenario in which a consumer received higher levels of distributive, procedural, and informational justices indicated the consumer would be more satisfied with the service recovery and would develop positive post-purchase intentions. In other words, consumers who had an unsatisfactory online apparel shopping and return experience were perceived as being willing to develop positive post-purchase intentions from the same online store if the e-retailer provided high levels of post-recoveries such as free return shipping fee, both store return option and mail return option, and information availability about return shipping fee. The results supported that the concepts of distributive, procedural, and informational justice may be applicable for understanding consumers who had an unsatisfactory online apparel shopping and return experience. The findings have managerial implications for e-return policies and return procedures. If e-retailers provide high levels of service recoveries with return policies and return procedures in which consumers perceive fair, those consumers may be satisfied with those return policies and return procedures, and then are likely to repurchase apparel products from the same online apparel store. Future research needs to examine the impacts of other factors such merchandise credit, cash refunds, and online help options on perceived justice.