E-services: Online Shopping and Web Sites

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E-service attributes available on men’s and women’s apparel web sites Minjeong Kim Merchandising Management Program, Department of Design and Human Environment, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA E-service attributes on web sites 25 Jung-Hwan Kim Department of Retailing, College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA, and Sharron J. Lennon

Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine whether service attributes available on women’s apparel web sites differ from those available on men’s apparel web sites in relation to the nine dimensions of E-A-S-QUAL (E-S-QUAL for apparel). Design/methodology/approach – Using three separate sources, 97 women’s and 97 men’s apparel web sites were selected, which constituted a variety of apparel retail web sites that are a fair representation of available US retail apparel web sites.

ANOVAs and chi-square analysis were performed. Findings – The results of content analysis suggest that differences exist between women’s and men’s apparel web sites in providing online services that improve e-service quality in such a way that women’s web sites provided more service attributes that improve e-service quality than men’s web sites. Practical implications – The results of content analysis suggest that the distribution or availability of almost half the e-service attributes analyzed signi? antly differed between women’s and men’s apparel web sites. For the further growth of men’s apparel shopping via the internet, e-retailers of men’s apparel need to provide e-services at a more sophisticated level. Originality/value – This study provides valuable information to both men’s and women’s apparel e-retailers to understand their current performance in delivering e-service and areas for improvement. Keywords Electronic commerce, Internet shopping, Clothing, Gender, Customer service management, United States of America Paper type Research paper

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Introduction The internet has become an important medium for the sale of products (Corbitt et al. , 2003). About 60 percent of web users make 36 web purchases a year. A majority of web users consider the web a critical information source (Internet Retailer, 2008a). Prior to holiday 2009, 85 percent of consumers indicated that they planned to shop online and about 70 percent planned to purchase online for holiday gifts (Internet Retailer, 2009a). With the current economic recession, although the growth rate has slowed, e-retailing

Managing Service Quality Vol. 21 No. 1, 2011 pp. 25-45 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0960-4529 DOI 10. 1108/09604521111100234 MSQ 21,1 26 is still growing at a much faster rate than other retail channels, taking a larger share of total retail sales (Internet Retailer, 2009b). Forrester Research has predicted that US e-retail sales will grow 10 percent by 2014, up from 6 percent in 2009, and represent 8 percent of total retail sales (Schonfeld, 2010). With the growth of e-retailing, there has been an increasing emphasis on e-service quality (Kim et al. 2006; Madu and Madu, 2002). Also, with a growing number of multi-channel retailers, retail web sites play a central role in in? uencing consumers’ satisfaction with online shopping experience and ultimately driving of? ine sales (TMCnet. com, 2005). Considering the crucial role of e-service quality on successful e-retailing, it is important for e-retailers to understand important e-service attributes to better meet the needs of their target customers. Parasuraman et al. 2005) developed E-S-QUAL as a measure of e-service quality based on the traditional SERVQUAL model. Compared to other measures of service quality, the dimensions of E-S-QUAL broadly contain all phases of customer’s interaction with a web site. However, there is a limitation when applied to retail web sites where product presentations are critical in consumer purchase decisions such as apparel. Addressing such limitations, Kim et al. (2006) developed a modi? ed E-S-QUAL model labeled as E-A-S-QUAL. The E-A-S-QUAL model consists of nine core service dimensions re? cting an extensive list of e-service attributes available on apparel retail web sites. Kim et al. further provided a comprehensive assessment of 111 women’s apparel e-retailers in providing e-service attributes. However, Kim et al. did not address potential differences or similarities between men’s and women’s web sites because of their focus on women’s apparel web sites only. Anecdotal evidence from industry suggests gender differences in perceptions of e-shopping and purchasing behaviors (Cotton Inc. , 2007; Van Slyke et al. , 2002).

According to Fallows’s Pew Internet & American Life Project (Fallows, 2005), men are heavier users of the internet, do more activities online, are less enthusiastic about online communication, perform more transactions, explore more information, look for more recreational activities online, are more tech savvy, and are more interested in new technology than women. Since gender differences may exist, it is important to evaluate men’s apparel web sites in their performance in delivering e-service attributes in comparison to women’s web sites. Additionally, apparel shopping has traditionally been considered the realm of women.

However, evidence suggests more men than ever before are engaged in shopping, especially for apparel. Men are spending more time shopping for themselves and showing more interest in buying personal grooming products. According the NPD group, three out of four men shopped for themselves in 2009 and men’s apparel sales totaled over $51 billion in 2009 (Reda, 2010). Furthermore, the internet may provide a safer shopping outlet for men who may have been stereotyped as a function of sexual orientation (Tuncay and Otnes, 2008). Thus, men’s shopping for apparel via the internet is likely to increase.

Extending the Kim et al. (2006) research, the purpose of this study is to examine whether e-service attributes available on men’s apparel web sites differ from those available on women’s apparel web sites. The ? ndings of the study are expected to provide valuable information to both men’s and women’s apparel e-retailers to understand their current performance in delivering e-service and areas for improvement. Conceptual foundations Satisfaction is the consumer’s summary response to an experience regarding a product, service, or retailer (Giese and Cote, 2000).

Research evidence supporting the positive impact of satisfaction on consumer patronage behaviors has been well documented (Cronin et al. , 2000; Deveraj et al. , 2002). Satisfaction is critical to the retailers’ success due to its impact on consumer loyalty (Skogland and Siguaw, 2004). To achieve loyalty, retailers need to enhance customer satisfaction (Oliver, 1997). Loyal customers tend to buy more, are willing to pay higher prices, and generate positive word-of-mouth, all of which positively in? uence pro? tability of a company (Zeithaml et al. 1996). In an e-retailing context, Anderson and Srinivasan (2003, p. 125) de? ned e-satisfaction as “the contentment of the customer with respect to his or her prior purchasing experience with a given e-commerce ? rm”E-A-S-QUAL. In e-retailing where competition is ? erce and switching costs are minimal, customer loyalty via enhanced satisfaction is integral to e-retailers’ success (Grewal et al. , 2004). Bailor (2006) argued that the e-retailing industry is one of the best industries at inspiring loyalty among its customers.

According to the 2006 Loyalty Report for Online Retail, eight e-retailers including eBay, Amazon. com, iTunes, Land’s End, L. L. Bean, QVC, Victoria Secret, and Walgreens have highly loyal customer bases. The average amount of revenue growth for these eight e-retailers was almost 20 percent higher than other e-retailers with less loyal customer bases. In their investigation of the web site characteristics in? uencing consumer satisfaction, Szymanski and Hise (2000) found that convenience, site design, and ? nancial security were the three key determinants of consumer e-satisfaction.

Yang and Wu (2009) also showed that web site features like advanced image interactivity enhanced consumer satisfaction, which in turn increased browsing and purchasing. Shankar et al. (2003) further found that the impact of satisfaction on loyalty is stronger online than of? ine because it is easier for satis? ed customers to choose service providers again online than of? ine. In e-retailing where no salespeople are present and direct human interaction is limited, making services available at the click of a mouse is an important aspect of customer service.

In the context of this study, it is posited that providing more service attributes on retail web sites contributes to enhanced satisfaction for e-shoppers, which will eventually build customer loyalty. Review of literature E-service quality Zeithaml et al. (2002, p. 11) de? ne e-service quality as “the extent to which a web site facilitates ef? cient and effective shopping, purchasing, and delivery”. As a measure of e-service quality, the E-A-S-QUAL model contains an extensive list of service attributes available on apparel retail web sites (Kim et al. 2006). It includes nine dimensions: six dimensions from E-S-QUAL (ef? ciency, ful? llment, system availability, privacy, responsiveness, and contact) and three additional dimensions (personalization, information, and graphic styles). The ef? ciency dimension is de? ned as “the ease and speed of accessing and using the site” (Parasuraman et al. , 2005, p. 220). It refers to ease of web site access, simplicity of using the site, ease of ? nding information, and fast checkout with minimal effort. Individuals who shop online usually are time-starved (King et al. 2004) and expect fast E-service attributes on web sites 27 MSQ 21,1 28 and ef? cient processing of transactions. If online users are discouraged in their efforts to ? nd information or complete transactions, they are more apt to abandon the site (Srinivasan et al. , 2002). Parasuraman et al. (2005) indicated that ef? ciency has a strong impact on overall quality perceptions and loyalty intentions. The ful? llment dimension is de? ned as “the extent to which the site’s promises about order delivery and item availability are ful? lled” (Parasuraman et al. 2005, p. 220). According to Yang and Fang (2004), accurate order ful? llment and keeping service promises are key service quality elements connected to customer satisfaction. The system availability dimension is de? ned as “the correct technical functioning of the site” (Parasuraman et al. , 2005, p. 220). When consumers use a web site for browsing or purchasing, functional problems such as missing links and non-working buttons lead to frustration and exiting. According to Internet Retailer (2006a), more than 90 percent of consumers abandon an online retail ite because of poor system availability. The privacy dimension is de? ned as “the degree to which the site is safe and protects customer information” (Parasuraman et al. , 2005, p. 220). Privacy concern is a major barrier for online purchasing (Kwon and Lee, 2003). The privacy dimension has been shown to have a strong impact on purchase intent (e. g. Loiacono et al. , 2002) and perceptions of overall site quality (e. g. Yoo and Donthu, 2001). The responsiveness dimension is de? ned as “effective handling of problems and returns through the site” (Parasuraman et al. , 2005, p. 220).

Responsiveness measures e-retailers’ ability to provide appropriate problem solving information to customers, having mechanisms for handling returns, and providing online guarantees. The contact dimension is de? ned as “the availability of assistance through telephone or online representatives” (Parasuraman et al. , 2005, p. 220). According to Wol? nbarger and Gilly (2003), these two service dimensions are key service qualities that affect attitudes towards the site. The personalization dimension is de? ned as “understanding the speci? c needs of customers, and providing service related to convenience” (Kim et al. 2006, p. 57). To survive in the competitive e-marketplace e-retailers should be aware of the importance of understanding their target customers and providing what those customers need (Internet Retailer, 2006b). Personalization is shown to lead to higher consumer patronage intention (Srinivasan et al. , 2002). The information dimension is associated with company and product related information (Kim et al. , 2006). Compared to traditional retail stores where shoppers can easily interact with a salesperson when questions arise, online shoppers largely rely only on information that is made available on the web site.

Lack of company and product related information online may be related to perceived risk and may lead to consumers exiting the site without purchasing. For example, Shop. org (2001) reported that over 60 percent of online shoppers exited prior to completion of a transaction due to distrust. Perceived risks related to customers’ inability to touch and try on apparel before purchasing might be crucial obstacles for customers and reasons to avoid purchasing apparel online (e. g. Park and Stoel, 2005). Graphic styles include color, layout, font size, number of photographs, graphics, and animation.

Graphic style is an important service dimension for apparel retail web sites. Since apparel is a product that requires sensory evaluation, various visual presentation techniques are vital to online apparel retailers (Kim and Lennon, 2008). Gender differences Generally men are considered to be more utilitarian shoppers compared to women who have a more hedonistic shopping orientation (Hu and Jasper, 2004). Research has shown that men generally put more emphasis on convenience when shopping and have stronger loyalty to a store than women (Hart et al. 2007). On the other hand, women tend to consider shopping as a leisure activity and shop more than men (Bakewell and Mitchell, 2004). Traditionally, shopping has been considered women’s territory. However, the combined effects of growing media in? uences, changing gender roles in society, and cultural changes have led to changes in such traditional views (Byrne, 2006; Reda, 2010). Especially men under 35 tend to shop more like women than men, meaning that they like to browse and experience the shopping process (Byrne, 2006). Teen boys have a strong in? ence on their family purchase decisions and spend over $100 billion each year (Byrne, 2006). More than half the men sampled in Hill and Harmon’s research in 2007 were primary grocery shoppers compared with one out of ten in 1995. Men were found to consider shopping for clothes to be equally appropriate for men and women (Hill and Harmon, 2007). According to the NPD report, three out of four men shopped for themselves in 2009 (Reda, 2010). Euromonitor International predicted a strong growth of the men’s grooming market in the health and beauty industry (Emerson, 2004).

In 2003, men spent over $6 billion for personal care products (Emerson, 2004). The men’s grooming industry has reached $20 billion worldwide and is expected to reach $28 billion by 2014 (Reda, 2010). Men’s grooming sales also surged in 2006 and 800 new male-only products were expected that year (Byrne, 2006). Demand for male-only products has outstripped the general market, especially for young men (Emerson, 2004). Fashion has become something men are also interested in and involved with (Bakewell et al. , 2006). In recent years, men’s apparel sales have held healthy growth rates at 5. percent, outpacing the growth in women’s apparel sales in some years. In 2009 men’s apparel sales totaled over $51 billion. Manrai et al. (2001) found that men were more fashion conscious than women in Eastern European Countries. In their research on generation Y male consumers’ fashion consciousness, Bakewell et al. (2006) found that generation Y men were interested in and involved with fashion. However, their interest and positive attitudes toward fashion did not necessarily translate to actual shopping and buying behaviors. Generation Y men were fashion conscious, but they were cautious consumers.

A concern for being stereotyped as feminine was one of the key barriers for men to adopt new fashion despite their awareness and consciousness of fashion (Bakewell et al. , 2006). Considering that e-shopping can be done in the comfort of one’s own home, it provides a convenient and private way for men to shop. However, industry reports suggest that men and women behave differently online (Kattan, 2009). While women shop more and do more purchasing activities in traditional shopping, they are less likely to purchase and spend less money online than men (Johnson and Learned, 2004).

Overall, more women use the internet than men, however once logged-on men tend to spend more time online than women (Kattan, 2009). eMarketer research also found that men are much more interested in watching online videos than women, while women are more likely to use online communication tools like blogging or social networking sites (Kattan, 2009). Similar to store shopping, E-service attributes on web sites 29 MSQ 21,1 30 the Pew Internet and American Life project found that women shop around and socialize when online, whereas men like to get in and out to get what is needed (Kattan, 2009).

Van Slyke et al. (2002) further found that men had more favorable attitudes toward e-retailing and higher purchase intentions than women. For instore and online retailing, men tend to be purchasers and women tend to be browsers (Korgaonkar and Wolin, 1999; Van Slyke et al. , 2002). Also men are more functional shoppers and consider the convenience of saving time more important than other aspects of e-shopping (Seock and Bailey, 2008), whereas value is more important for women (Cotton Inc. , 2000). A study by Lifestyle Monitor (Cotton Inc. 2007) reported a fast growth in male shoppers who actually were spending more per visit. The study also suggested that men focus on the ef? ciency of shopping, and thus spend less time, whereas women spend more time because they enjoy the process. Women are further found to have higher levels of risk perception (Garbarino and Strahilevitz, 2004) and security concerns (Cotton Inc. , 2007) in e-retailing and thus have lower levels of trust (Chaudhuri and Gangadharan, 2007). Owing to women’s higher risk perception, return policies are likely to be more important for women shoppers (Cotton Inc. 2000). Women also have higher demands for multisensory experiences for apparel shopping than men (Cotton Inc. , 2007). For example, research (Citrin et al. , 2003) shows that women have a greater need for tactile information than men. Such differences are expected to have different implications for e-retailers. Research questions The following research questions guided this research. RQ1. Do differences exist between men’s apparel web sites and women’s apparel web sites in relation to the nine dimensions of E-A-S-QUAL? RQ2.

If differences are found, to what extent do service attributes available on women’s apparel web sites differ from those on men’s apparel retail web sites? Method A content analysis of men’s and women’s apparel web sites was conducted to evaluate apparel e-retailers’ performance in providing e-service attributes that facilitate ef? cient and effective e-shopping. As a non-reactive research strategy, content analysis of retail web sites allows researchers to determine online attributes thought to be important by e-retailers. Sample selection Apparel was the product category used for the study due to its importance in e-retailing.

First of all, apparel is one of the key items sold in e-retailing. Sales volume of apparel sold online has dramatically increased. According to comScoredata, e-sales of apparel are up 40 percent as compared to the same time period in 2005 (Internet Retailer, 2006c). During the 2007 holiday season, apparel and accessories sales ranked second with 15. 3 million online purchases (Internet Retailer, 2008b). Additionally, consumers often need a great deal of information when purchasing apparel online due to an inability to try on and physically examine the product.

Thus, when purchasing apparel, consumers rely more on e-service attributes available on the web sites than for other consumer products like CDs and books. Both women’s and men’s apparel web sites were selected using three separate sources (TOP 99 Apparel Retailers reported by Internet Retailer (2005), Yahoo! Directory, and the 111 apparel web sites from Kim et al. (2006)). From these sources, 97 women’s and 97 men’s apparel web sites were selected, which constituted a variety of apparel retail web sites that are a fair representation of available US retail apparel web sites.

Instrument development and procedure A coding guide of e-service attributes developed by Kim et al. (2006) was used in this study. This coding guide includes an extensive list of e-service attributes available on 111 women’s apparel web sites created through a relevant pretest procedure (inter-coder reliability of 0. 92). The coding guide contains 76 e-service attributes representing the nine dimensions of E-A-S-QUAL. Based on the coding guide, e-service attributes available on 97 men’s and 97 women’s apparel web sites were identi? ed for this study. Results and discussion Inter-coder reliability of 0. 2 (by dividing agreements by total items in coding of the selected 13 web sites) was found and thus relative reliability was established for further analysis. To compare to what extent differences in e-service attributes exist between women’s and men’s web sites in relation to the nine dimensions, ANOVAs and chi-square analysis were performed. Prior to the main analyses, a chi-square goodness-of-? t test was ? rst performed to examine whether there was a signi? cant difference in the distribution of types of e-retailers between women’s and men’s apparel web sites.

In total, four different types of e-retailers were identi? ed (see Table I): (1) pure; (2) store; (3) catalog; and (4) multi-channel. A chi-square test showed that the distribution of types of e-retailers did not signi? cantly differ between women’s and men’s apparel web sites, x2 (3) ? 6. 14, p ? 2 0. 11. Thus, the selected sample for women’s and men’s web sites was deemed comparable in that respect. Research question 1 In order to examine whether differences exist between women’s and men’s apparel web sites on the nine dimensions of E-A-S-QUAL, ANOVAs were performed.

For each Women’s web sites Sample Types of e-retailers Pure e-retailer (online only) Store e-retailer (store and online) Catalog e-retailer (catalog and online) Multi-channel e-retailer (store, catalog, and online) f 13 39 12 33 % 13. 4 40. 2 12. 4 34. 0 f 12 43 3 39 Men’s web sites % 12. 4 44. 3 3. 1 40. 2 E-service attributes on web sites 31 Table I. Characteristics of apparel web site samples MSQ 21,1 32 service dimension, scores were summed to indicate the number of available e-service attributes[1]. High scores indicated that more e-service attributes were available than low scores.

ANOVA was performed for each of the nine dimensions and revealed that the availability of e-service attributes on six dimensions were signi? cantly different between women’s and men’s apparel web sites. The availability of e-service attributes facilitating the “ef? ciency”, “ful? llment”, and “system availability” dimensions did not signi? cantly differ between women’s and men’s apparel web sites. However, there were signi? cant differences between women’s and men’s web sites in the availability of e-service attributes facilitating the “privacy” [F ? 1; 192? ? 12:11; p , 0. 01], “responsiveness” [F ? ; 192? ? 5:23; p , 0. 05], “contact” [F ? 1; 192? ? 4:67; p , 0:05], “personalization” [F (1, 192) ? 6. 29, p , 0. 05], “information” [F? 1; 192? ? 18:62, p , 0. 0001], and “graphic styles” [F ? 1; 192? ? 8:56; p , 0. 01] dimensions. Women’s apparel web sites provided more e-service attributes on ? ve dimensions of E-A-S-QUAL than men’s web sites for “privacy” [M ? 4:98 ? SD ? 1:53? vs. M ? 4:19 ? SD ? 1:65?? ; "responsiveness” ? M ? 1:54 ? SD ? 0:52? vs M ? 1:36 ? SD ? 0:54?? ; "contact” ? M ? 3:40 ? SD ? 0:92? vs M ? 3:10 ? SD ? 1:0?? ; "information” ? M ? 12:55 ? SD ? 1:74? vs M ? 11:27 ?

SD ? 2:34?? ; and "graphic styles” ? M ? 7:45 ? SD ? 2:90? vs M ? 6:23 ? SD ? 2:87?? dimensions. For the "personalization” dimension, men’s apparel web sites ? M ? 10:13 ? SD ? 3:78?? provided more e-service attributes than women’s apparel web sites ? M ? 8:87 (SD ? 3:16)]. Research question 2 To further examine speci? c e-service attributes of which the distribution or availability differs between women’s and men’s apparel web sites, Chi-square goodness-of-? t tests were performed on the nine dimensions and further on all 76 e-service attributes organized under the nine dimensions of E-A-S-QUAL.

The “ef? ciency” dimension includes 15 attributes (see Table II for a complete list of coded attributes by the corresponding dimension of E-A-S-QUAL). Of the 15 service attributes, the distribution or availability of nine service attributes signi? cantly differed between women’s and men’s apparel web sites (see Table III for Chi-square statistics). For browsing options, three options were currently available (i. e. view by page, view all, and previous-next view). Results revealed that more men’s than women’s web sites had three browsing options.

For search engine, three different ways to use search engines were identi? ed; search by words, by product category, and by product number. Results showed that more women’s web sites had two or more search engine options than men’s sites. For comparison shopping, more men’s web sites had comparison shopping capability than women’s sites. Although online comparison shopping has become more popular and sought by online shoppers (Khan, 2004), women’s web sites did not utilize comparison shopping. For sitemap and FAQs, more women’s web sites provided them than men’s web sites.

While sitemaps are considered a useful service feature that improves shopping ef? ciency through easy navigation, close to half of the men’s web sites analyzed did not provide sitemaps. Similar to sitemaps, FAQs provide immediate answers to common questions and so can be very useful in an e-retail setting where no salespeople are present to answer questions. Yet, nearly half of the men’s web sites analyzed failed to provide FAQs. For multiple order option and express checkout, more men’s web sites provided the options than women’s web sites. Surprisingly, express

Women’s web sites Unavailable Available f % f % Ef? ciency Advanced search function Browsing option Unavailable 1 Option available 2 Options available 3 Options available Search engine Unavailable 1 Option available 2 Options available 3 Options available Comparison shopping Shopping cart Text view option Sitemap FAQs (frequently asked questions) Browsing instructions Order instructions Multiple order option Alternative order method Unavailable 1 Option available 2 Options available 3 Options available Order from catalog Unavailable Available Not applicable Express checkout E-billing Ful? lment Item availability Order status tracking Payment options 1 Option available 2 Options available 3 Options available 4 or more options available Shipping method Standard shipping only Express shipping only Both 86 8 88. 7 8. 2 13 41 35 14 14. 4 8 26 49 0 95 1 92 89 21 46 16 8. 2 26. 8 50. 5 0. 0 97. 9 1. 0 94. 8 91. 8 21. 6 47. 4 16. 5 13. 4 42. 3 36. 1 11 11. 3 Men’s web sites Unavailable Available f % f % 91 17 93. 8 17. 5 10 23 47 12 12. 4 49 30 6 51 94 0 52 62 14 35 37 50. 5 30. 6. 2 52. 6 96. 9 0. 0 53. 6 63. 9 14. 4 36. 1 38. 1 10. 3 23. 7 48. 5 6 6. 2 E-service attributes on web sites 33 97 2 96 5 8 76 51 81 53 100. 0 2. 1 99. 0 5. 2 8. 2 78. 4 52. 6 83. 5 54. 6 46 3 97 45 35 83 62 60 60 47. 4 3. 1 100. 0 46. 4 36. 1 85. 6 63. 9 61. 9 61. 9 22 10 11 53 88 76 22 10 54. 6 90. 7 78. 4 22. 7 10. 3 44 0 9 21 75 87 30 50 17 0 0 0 97 22. 7 10. 3 11. 3 58 45. 4 0. 0 9. 3 21. 6 77. 3 89. 7 30. 9 51. 5 17. 5 0. 0 0. 0 0. 0 100. 0 11 92 74 14 59. 8 11. 3 94. 8 76. 14. 4 15 14 8 15. 5 14. 4 8. 2 32 7 86 5 23 83 19 33 37 8 33. 0 7. 2 88. 7 5. 2 23. 7 85. 6 19. 6 34. 0 38. 1 8. 2 2 2. 1 5 5. 2 90 92. 8 (continued) Table II. Frequency distribution of e-service attributes MSQ 21,1 Shipping option To me only To one alternative address To multiple addresses International shipping Unavailable Available Only to Canada System availability Browser requirement No dead links Yes No Privacy Privacy policy Security policy Term of use Recall information Af? iate program Security certi? cation Investor relations Business ethics Responsiveness Satisfaction guarantee Return/exchange policy Contact Interactive shopping aid Unavailable Live help Instant library help Company contacts 1 Option available 2 Options available 3 Options available 4 Options available Personalization Alteration service Deferred billing Gift wrapping Gift card E-gift card Online store credit card Free shipping Table II. Women’s web sites Unavailable Available f % f % 5 61 31 51 52. 41 5 65 73 24 5 7 49 87 49 28 61 7 43 2 67. 0 75. 3 24. 7 5. 2 7. 2 50. 5 89. 7 50. 5 28. 9 62. 9 7. 2 44. 3 2. 1 92 90 48 10 48 69 36 90 54 95 94. 8 92. 8 49. 5 10. 3 49. 5 71. 1 37. 1 92. 8 55. 7 97. 9 32 42. 3 5. 2 33. 0 5. 2 62. 9 32. 0 Men’s web sites Unavailable Available f % f % 12 58 27 42 43. 3 48 7 83 97 0 6 15 47 90 51 49 59 53 59 3 85. 6 100. 0 0. 0 6. 2 15. 5 48. 5 92. 8 52. 6 50. 5 60. 8 54. 6 60. 8 3. 1 91 82 50 7 46 48 38 44 38 94 93. 8 84. 51. 5 7. 2 47. 4 49. 5 39. 2 45. 4 39. 2 96. 9 14 49. 5 7. 2 14. 4 12. 4 59. 8 27. 8 34 78 80. 4 12 7 3 15 38 41 12. 4 7. 2 3. 1 15. 5 39. 2 42. 3 3. 1 13. 4 57. 7 62. 9 12. 4 39. 2 8. 2 81 83. 5 14 2 6 21 43 27 14. 4 2. 1 6. 2 21. 6 44. 3 27. 8 94 84 41 36 85 59 89 96. 9 86. 6 42. 3 37. 1 87. 6 60. 8 91. 8 3 13 56 61 12 38 8 78 84 56 24 66 62 58 80. 4 86. 6 57. 7 24. 7 68. 0 63. 9 59. 8 19 19. 6 13 13. 4 41 42. 3 73 75. 3 31 32. 0 35 36. 1 39 40. 2 (continued)

Women’s web sites Unavailable Available f % f % Suggestions for items Unavailable Alternative products Matching products Both Promotions Unavailable 1 Type of promotion 2 Types of promotion 3 Types of promotion 4 or more types of promotion Wish list E-mail service E-mail to a friend option Printer-friendly option Catalog request Account management Links to alternative sites Personal shopper Virtual community Unavailable Chat room Bulletin board Information Company history General company information Store information Shipping cost Sales tax Size chart Unavailable Measurement only Measurement guide only Both Product descriptions (# of pieces of information) 3 (Basic info: color, size, price) 4 (Basic info ? 1 more) 5 (Basic info ? 2 more) 6 (Basic ? 3 more) 7 (Basic ? 4 more) Graphic styles Back view Side view Larger view 71 91 9 73. 2 93. 8 9. 3 28 28. 9 8 25 36 11 11. 3 26 39 14 7 41 96 62 14 45 88 31 7 26. 8 40. 2 14. 4 7. 2 42. 3 99. 0 63. 9 14. 4 46. 4 90. 7 32. 0 7. 2 8. 2 25. 8 37. 1 Men’s web sites Unavailable Available f % f % 30 30. 9 12 19 36 12 12. 18 20 9 37 32 83 51 86 41 70 21 8 18. 6 20. 6 9. 3 38. 1 33. 0 85. 6 52. 6 88. 7 42. 3 72. 2 21. 6 8. 2 12. 4 19. 6 37. 1 E-service attributes on web sites 35 56 1 35 83 52 9 66 90 95 57. 7 1. 0 36. 1 85. 6 53. 6 9. 3 68. 0 92. 8 97. 9 65 14 45 11 55 27 76 89 97 67. 0 14. 4 46. 4 11. 3 56. 7 27. 8 78. 4 91. 8 100. 0 1 1 24 3 26 0 2 13 24. 7 3. 1 26. 8 0. 0 2. 1 13. 4 14 0 70 73 94 71 97 95 1. 0 1. 0 75. 3 96. 9 73. 2 100. 0 97. 9 21 9 30 11 45 21 14. 4 0. 0 72. 2 21. 6 9. 3 30. 9 11. 3 46. 4 21. 6 0 0 76 88 67 86 52 0. 0 0. 0 78. 4 90. 7 69. 1 88. 7 53. 6 27 3 46 27. 8 3. 1 47. 4 2 1 11 13 70 26 6 88 2. 1 1. 0 11. 3 13. 4 72. 2 26. 8 6. 2 90. 7 67 91 21 69. 1 93. 8 21. 6 1 21 21 52 2. 0 1. 0 21. 6 21. 6 53. 6 30 30. 9 6 6. 2 76 78. 4 (continued) Table II. MSQ 21,1 3-D rotation Close-ups Zoom function Virtual model Video presentation Number of alternative images None 1 Alternative image 2 Alternative images 3 Alternative images More than 4 alternative images Presented on mannequin Presented on model Presented on hanger Presented as ? at Fabric swatches Close-ups of fabric swatches Alternative color view Background music Flash intro Women’s web sites Unavailable Available f % f % 96 51 58 95 92 9 99. 0 52. 6 59. 8 97. 9 94. 8 9. 3 24 28 28 8 19 69 0 31 57 54 55 5 21 24. 7 28. 9 28. 9 8. 2 19. 6 71. 1 0. 0 32. 0 58. 8 55. 56. 7 5. 2 21. 6 1 46 39 2 5 1. 0 47. 4 40. 2 2. 1 5. 2 Men’s web sites Unavailable Available f % f % 96 70 71 96 97 9 99. 0 72. 2 73. 2 99. 0 100. 0 9. 3 46 16 11 15 29 58 3 65 22 16 45 1 15 47. 4 16. 5 11. 3 15. 5 29. 9 59. 8 3. 1 67. 0 22. 7 16. 5 46. 4 1. 0 15. 5 1 27 26 1 0 1. 0 27. 8 26. 8 1. 0 0. 0 36 Table II. 78 28 97 66 40 43 42 92 76 80. 4 28. 9 100. 0 68. 0 41. 2 44. 3 43. 3 94. 8 78. 4 68 39 93 32 75 81 52 96 82 70. 1 40. 2 85. 9 33. 0 77. 3 83. 5 53. 6 99. 0 84. 5 checkout service was rarely available in women’s web sites even though it can make purchasing more convenient, speed up shopping, and be attractive to time poor shoppers.

For order from catalog and e-billing service that allows customers to access billing statements and current bill balance as well as process their payment via the internet, more women’s web sites had these options available than men’s sites. Overall, content analysis results indicated that men’s web sites provided more services enabling easy comparison and convenient checkout, while women’s web sites provided more services by providing an easy and convenient shopping process including browsing and searching. The “ful? llment” dimension includes six service attributes. Of them, the distribution or availability of three service attributes signi? cantly differed between women’s and men’s web sites.

For item availability, more women’s than men’s web sites provided information about product availability, whereas for payment options, more men’s than women’s web sites provided three or more payment options. For shipping method, slightly more women’s than men’s web sites provided both standard and express shipping options. Overall, content analysis results indicate that men’s web sites provided more payment options, while women’s web sites provided more services facilitating delivery options and product availability information. For the “system availability” dimension, two service attributes were coded. The availability of both service attributes signi? antly differed between women’s and men’s web sites. For browser requirements, more women’s than men’s web sites provided information about compatibility with internet browsers. On the other hand, more women’s than men’s web sites had dead links. Given that technical failure of a web site signi? cantly affects consumer perceptions of overall service quality (Santos, 2003), the Dimension/e-service attributes Ef? ciency Browsing option Search engine Comparison shopping Sitemap FAQs Multiple order option Order from catalog Express checkout E-billing Ful? llment Item availability Payment options Shipping method System availability Browser requirement No dead links Privacy Security certi? ation Business ethics Responsiveness Satisfaction guarantee Contact Personalization Alteration service Gift wrapping E-gift card Free shipping Promotions E-mail service Printer friendly option Account management Information Shipping cost Sales tax Size chart Graphic styles Larger view Close-ups Zoom function Video presentation Number of alternative images Presented as ? at Fabric swatches Close-ups of fabric swatches Note: *p , 0. 05; * *p , 0. 01; * * *p , 0. 001; * * * *p , 0. 0001 Chi-square goodness-of-? t x 2 ? 3? ? 10:45* x2 ? 3? ? 63:55* * * * x2 ? 1? ? 69:19* * * * x2 ? 1? ? 43:11* * * * x2 (1) ? 21. 78 * * * * x2 ? 1? ? 11:45* * x2 ? 2? ? 9:12* x2 ? 1? ? 122:30* * * * ; x2 ? 2? ? 24:64* * * * x2 ? 1? ? 55:76* * * * x2 ? 3? ? 21:36* * * * x2 ? 2? ? 7:26* x2 ? 1? ? 9:23* * x2 ? 1? ? 27:39* * * * x2 ? 1? ? 9:50* * x2 ? 1? ? 51:06* * * * x2 ? 1? ? 5:29* E-service attributes on web sites 37 x2 ? ? ? 13:13* * * * x2 ? 1? ? 4:64* x2 ? 1? ? 10:79* * x2 ? 1? ? 26:98* * * * x2 (4) ? 29. 15 * * * * x2 ? 1? ? 12:21* * * * x2 ? 1? ? 106:99* * * * x2 ? 1? ? 11:05* * x2 ? 1? ? 11:66* * x2 ? 1? ? 51:92* * * * x2 ? 3? ? 13:97* * x2 ? 1? ? 5:68* x2 (1) ? 7. 93 * * x2 ? 1? ? 3:91* x2 ? 1? ? 4:08* x2 ? 4? ? 19:73* * x2 ? 1? ? 22:84* * * * x2 ? 1? ? 26:16* * * * x2 ? 1? ? 32:27* * * * Table III. A Chi-square goodness-of-? t test for e-service attributes MSQ 21,1 38 presence of dead links on women’s web sites is likely to have an adverse impact on e-service quality and consumer satisfaction. The “privacy” dimension includes eight service attributes.

Of those attributes, the availability of two service attributes signi? cantly differed between women’s and men’s web sites. For both security certi? cation and business ethics, more women’s than men’s web sites provided such information. Both security certi? cation and information about business ethics on a retail web site are expected to improve consumer con? dence in providing personal information and buying online. Yet, more than half of the men’s web sites did not provide such services whereas many more women’s web sites provided them. Overall, results suggested that women’s web sites provided more e-services improving consumer con? dence with a retail web site.

Considering higher risk perceptions of privacy and security among women shoppers (Garbarino and Strahilevitz, 2004), women’s web sites did a better job addressing such concerns than men’s web sites. For the “responsiveness” dimension, two service attributes were coded. Of the two, the availability of satisfaction guarantee signi? cantly differed between women’s and men’s web sites such that more women’s than men’s web sites provided satisfaction guarantees. The “contact” dimension includes two service attributes. Content analysis results showed no difference in e-service attributes facilitating contact. Company contact is critical to provide a positive online shopping experience. With the absence of salespeople in an online shopping context, mmediate customer service through multiple channels (phone, e-mail, and live chat) is important to online business success. The most important aspect is the proper implementation of those features such as live chat, however, this feature was largely unavailable in both men’s and women’s sites. Furthermore, industry reports suggested that many companies that utilized live chat did not bene? t from it mainly due to poor implementation. After successful implementation of live chat, some e-retailers experienced a reduction in shopping cart abandonment and an increase in overall customer satisfaction. Through live chat, e-retailers can communicate with their customers and address customers’ questions and concerns in an interactive way (Online Epidemics, 2007).

For the “personalization” dimension, 18 service attributes were coded; eight service attributes out of the 18 signi? cantly differed between women’s and men’s web sites. For alteration service, more men’s than women’s web sites provided an alteration service, which is parallel to in-store retailing practice. For gift-wrapping, more women’s than men’s web sites provided a gift-wrapping service. Gift-wrapping is considered an important customer service in e-retailing (Internet Retailer, 2003). Yet many web sites failed to provide such service, especially men’s web sites, while it is likely that men shop for gifts. For e-gift card and free shipping, more men’s than women’s web sites provided e-gift card and free shipping services.

This was surprising because shipping costs have been found to affect women’s buying decisions more than men’s. According to Forrester Research, about a third of young women surveyed said they do not purchase online because of delivery cost, while only 18 percent of young men reported shipping costs as a barrier (Internet Retailer, 2005). For promotions, the number of available promotions differed between men’s and women’s web sites such that more men’s than women’s web sites provided 3 or more types of promotions. According to reports by the E-tailing Group (2007), women tend to be more in? uenced than men by promotions in their online shopping behavior. Nonetheless, the results indicated men’s web sites utilize more ariety of promotions than women’s web sites, suggesting that women’s web sites can utilize more promotions to attract shoppers. According to the recent industry report, nearly 70 percent of shoppers say that e-mail promotions would prompt them to visit a retail web site (Retailcustomerexperience. com, 2010). For e-mail service and account management, more women’s than men’s web sites provided these service attributes. The “information” dimension includes seven attributes. Of those attributes, the availability of three service attributes signi? cantly differed between women’s and men’s web sites. For all three attributes – shipping cost, sales tax, and size chart, women’s web sites excelled men’s web sites in providing such service information.

Shipping cost is necessary information to make a purchase decision, yet more than 11 percent of men’s web sites failed to provide shipping cost information. It was surprising that nearly half the men’s web sites analyzed did not have sales tax information that determines ? nal costs for consumers. Additionally, more women’s web sites provided both measurement and measurement guides than men’s web sites. Over 20 percent of men’s web sites did not provide size charts, although sizing information is also critical for men’s apparel. For the “graphic style” dimension, 18 service attributes generally related to visual presentation of products were coded.

Of the 18 attributes, the availability of eight service attributes signi? cantly differed between women’s and men’s web sites. For larger view, more women’s than men’s web sites provided larger views. More than 21 percent of men’s web sites failed to provide larger images. Considering Kim and Lennon’s (2008) ? ndings that large pictures led to more positive attitudes toward products, men’s web sites are advised to provide larger views of merchandise. For other rich media including close-ups, zoom function, video presentation, and the number of alternative images, more women’s than men’s web sites provided those options to enhance visualization. Research ? dings suggest that rich media applications reduce perceived risks, enhance the entertainment value of shopping, and ultimately increase purchase intentions (Park et al. , 2005; Jiang and Benbasat, 2007; Kim and Forsythe, 2008). Men’s web sites need to improve their visual presentations to reduce levels of perceived risk associated with online product examinations and ultimately encourage shoppers to make purchases. For presented as ? at, more men’s than women’s web sites presented their products laid out ? at. Recent research on online product presentation found that when apparel items were presented on a model as opposed to ? at, more positive emotional responses to product presentation were elicited, leading to greater purchase intentions (Kim et al. , 2009).

Thus, men’s web sites are advised to consider their presentation methods for better shopping experiences for their customers. For fabric swatches and close-ups of fabric swatches, more women’s than men’s web sites provided those options. Overall, content analysis suggested that women’s web sites provided more services enhancing visual presentation of products than men’s web sites. Implications This exploratory research identi? ed the extent to which e-service attributes were available in women’s and men’s apparel web sites and examined whether differences exist between women’s and men’s sites in relation to the e-service dimensions. This study further identi? d speci? c e-service attributes that differed in terms of their availability between women’s and men’s web sites. The results of content analysis E-service attributes on web sites 39 MSQ 21,1 40 suggest that differences exist between women’s and men’s web sites in providing online services that improve e-service quality in such a way that women’s web sites provided more service attributes that improve e-service quality than men’s web sites. The result of content analysis further suggests that the distribution or availability of almost half of the e-service attributes analyzed signi? cantly differed between women’s and men’s apparel web sites.

Overall, women’s web sites provided more e-services than men’s web sites, while men’s web sites excelled women’s web sites for approximately a quarter of the e-service attributes that signi? cantly differed between women’s and men’s. Although one cannot make conclusive inferences about e-service quality without actually measuring consumer perceptions and evaluations of online service attributes, the overall extent to which e-service attributes are available on women’s and men’s web sites appears to be different in such a way that women’s web sites generally provided more e-service attributes than men’s web sites, especially for the “ef? ciency”, “ful? llment”, and “graphic styles” dimensions. Men’s web sites excelled women’s web sites in providing some speci? e-services that provide comparison shopping capability, convenient checkout, convenient browsing without dead links, more payment options, alteration service, more promotions, e-gift card, free shipping, and a printer-friendly option. While women have traditionally been the dominant shoppers for apparel products, an increasing number of men like to shop, especially for apparel products (Torres, 2006). Men’s e-shopping for apparel is also fast growing, accounting for $3 billion in 2009, up 19 percent from 2008. There are increasing similarities in the way men and women shop, but differences also still exist regarding how they shop, especially in an e-retailing context (Reda, 2010).

Nontheless, e-shoppers’ expectations of ef? cient and effective shopping, purchasing, and delivery are unlikely to differ between men and women. Many online shoppers are time poor (King et al. , 2004) and goal-oriented. Thus, e-services improving convenience and ease of online shopping and purchasing are likely to improve consumer satisfaction with the online shopping process and consumer perceptions of e-service quality for both men and women shoppers. Some e-services may be more gender speci? c than others. For example, alteration service is more common in men’s apparel at brick-and-mortar stores, and it appears to be the same in online apparel shopping.

However, both men and women are likely to prefer many of the same online services such as express checkout, free shipping, information about product availability, and satisfaction guarantee, to name a few. Especially for online apparel shopping, visual product presentation is considered a critical in? uence in the decision to purchase apparel online (Kim and Lennon, 2008). Yet men’s web sites were far behind most women’s web sites in providing e-services enhancing visual product presentation that facilitate apparel product evaluations in online shopping. For the further growth of men’s apparel shopping via the internet, e-retailers of men’s apparel need to provide such e-services. Prior research has suggested the importance of image interactivity on retail web sites in positively in? encing consumer attitude and behavioral intentions (Fiore et al. , 2005). Yet the ? ndings of the study generally indicate a lack of interactivity across web sites. Additionally, Retail Insight (as reported in E-tailing Group, 2007) found that one in four adult online users were engaged in virtual social networking via web sites and one in three reported that their purchase decisions are affected by social networking sites. Yet virtual community options including chat rooms or bulletin boards were largely unavailable on both men’s and women’s web sites. The ? ndings of this study provide useful information for e-retailers of both women’s and men’s apparel.

The coding guide used for the study provides an extensive list of e-service attributes available in apparel web sites. Thus, apparel e-retailers could use the coding guide[2] from t[2]study to evaluate their own performance of e-service quality. Additionally, this study used a reasonably large size of the sample web sites ? N ? 194? that is fairly representative of apparel retail web sites, ranging from small companies without well-known brand names to large multi-channel retailers with strong brand names. Thus, e-retailers could compare their own performance in providing e-service attributes with the results of the content analysis provided in this study and identify areas for improvement. Limitations This study entails several limitations.

First, the sample web sites used for the study are not a random sample of apparel retail web sites; thus the ? ndings of the study may not be generalizable to other apparel web sites. Second, the coding guide used has been developed for apparel retail web sites; thus some online service attributes may not be applicable to other product categories. Third, while special caution and care were taken to select comparable women’s and men’s web sites, some unidenti? ed differences may exist between the two groups of web sites. Future researchers may wish to examine consumer perceptions and evaluations of e-service attributes identi? ed in this study and to assess the extent to which the availability of e-service attributes in? ence consumer satisfaction with online shopping and their purchase behaviors. Notes 1. Some service attributes with speci? c coding schemes were modi? ed so that high scores indicate more service attributes available where applicable. 2. 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She received her PhD from The Ohio State University and has published in Psychology & Marketing, European Journal of Marketing, Services Industries Journal, Managing Service Quality, Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Direct Marketing, and Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal. Her research interests include consumer behaviors in multi-channel retailing, consumer misbehavior on Black Friday and sustainability in the retail industry. Minjeong Kim is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: minjeong. [email protected] edu Jung-Hwan Kim is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Retailing at the University of South Carolina.

She completed her doctoral degree in 2006 at The Ohio State University. She has conducted research in consumer shopping behaviors, service quality of online and of? ine apparel retail, and online visual merchandising. Her research has appeared in Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Managing Service Quality, Clothing and Textiles Research Journal