Fit Does Matter! An Empirical Study on Product Fit Uncertainty in Online Marketplaces
19 Pages Posted: 8 May 2010
Date Written: May 5, 2010
This paper examines the antecedents and consequences of product uncertainty in online marketplaces by conceptualizing the dimensions of product uncertainty - description uncertainty (identifying product characteristics), performance uncertainty (inferring product’s future performance) and fit uncertainty (matching product’s characteristics with buyer’s needs). It also theorizes the distinction, relationship, and effects of the dimensions of product uncertainty. Finally, it proposes a set of IT-enabled mechanisms to reduce product uncertainty.
The hypotheses are tested with data from 274 buyers in the largest online marketplace in China (Taobao). The results first demonstrate the distinction between the dimensions of product uncertainty, show that relative to description and performance uncertainty, fit uncertainty has the only significant effect on price premiums, satisfaction, product returns, and repurchase intentions, and support the effects of computer-mediated communication (between buyers and sellers and among buyers), product forums, and decision support systems on fit uncertainty. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
Keywords: Online marketplaces, product uncertainty, fit uncertainty, computer mediated communication, user generated content, decision support systems, price premium, product returns
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