Product fit uncertainty and its effects on vendor choice: an experimental study
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Recommender systems and other Internet-enabled technologies have changed the surrounding conditions of pre-purchase evaluations on the Internet. In some cases consumers can now sample entire products prior to a purchase – hereby removing all uncertainty about whether a product fits their taste. While previous research has mainly focused on vendor and product quality uncertainty, it is still not clear how declining product fit uncertainty affects consumers. To close this gap, we conducted a laboratory experiment to analyze the effects on consumers’ vendor selection. We find that full elimination of product fit uncertainty is beneficial for vendors, as it increases both the number of purchases and consumer loyalty. Interestingly, if product fit uncertainty is only partially eliminated, consumers do not necessarily show differential behavior for different levels of remaining product fit uncertainty. This has important implications for online vendors that consider the implementation of additional means to reduce product fit uncertainty.
KeywordsProduct fit uncertainty Product evaluation Experience goods
JEL Classification2.20.3: Experiment 3.080: Consumer behavior 3.130: E-Commerce 5.080: Media
The authors are very grateful to the senior editor and two anonymous reviewers for their encouragement and their excellent comments during the development of this manuscript. They also appreciate the very helpful feedback of the AMCIS 2012 participants on earlier versions of this manuscript.
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