Modern internet marketing and online retailing have changed the way companies sell and deliver goods. Customers today demand fast and quality service, and companies are forced to meet these requirements to maintain a competitive position. However, many online retailers, especially those with a small work scale, cannot offer fast delivery to their customers, which reduces their satisfaction. Fab, a design-focused company that provides healthy lifestyle items, home decorations, and learning, also applies to such companies, as it delivers goods within 5-10 days. However, free shipping is one of the online shoppers’ priorities, leading to better service reviews. Consequently, this paper will explore the impact of Fab’s time of delivery on customer satisfaction, as well as the elimination of shipping fees as a way to increase them through a quantitative internet survey.
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Data Collection Method
Rationale for the Research Question
The development of the Internet and technology allows people to make a purchase without leaving comfortable homes and receive them the same or the next day at their door. The availability of resources and developed logistics in such large companies as Amazon, eBay, or Target gives them a competitive advantage, since they can offer customers fast delivery for a fee, which satisfies customer needs. However, companies like Fab most often deliver goods within seven days and also charge a fee to cut costs. In most cases, such a service is considered to be of poor quality, especially if the buyer receives the goods later than the specified period. For example, Chan et al. (2018) note that buyers leave positive feedback in case of early delivery and negative if the package was received late. At the same time, in the first option, customer satisfaction increases slightly, while lateness has a strong negative impact on customer reviews. These features also affect repeat purchases in the same store, and their likelihood is reduced, accordingly, the duration of delivery (Chan et al., 2018). Thus, delivery time is key to user satisfaction with online retails.
Nevertheless, companies can use mitigating factors to reduce customer dissatisfaction with long delivery times. No fee is one such factor, as many people can wait to save money when purchasing an item. Additionally, Ma (2017) argues that longer delivery times increase customer uncertainty; however, if the delivery is free, this rate is lower than in the case of the required fee. Uncertainty in this study refers to customers’ fear about an undesirable outcome, for example, the product’s low quality, which influences their purchasing decisions. Nguyen et al. (2019) also note that shipping charges have the greatest influence on purchasing decisions, although the delivery speed is almost equal. Fab company has 5-10 paid delivery that is free only for items over 75$ that do not exceed standard size, which presumably affects customer satisfaction and the company’s profitability (“Shipping,” n.d.). Moreover, delivery time can increase in some cases, such as holiday periods or non-standard purchases. Thus, the main hypothesis of this study is that long delivery times reduce buyers’ satisfaction; however, the absence of a fee can increase customers’ satisfaction and loyalty to the company.
This study will use a random sample of respondents among the company’s customers. Since this study is aimed at an overall assessment of customer satisfaction depending on the duration and cost of delivery, the respondents’ socio-demographic characteristics do not play a central role; thus, stratified sampling is unnecessary. However, these data will be specified in the survey to observe the main trends and understand the differences in the respondents’ answers. Such a sample helps reach a wider audience and get a sufficient number of responses for analysis. The only parameters required from participants to be included in the studies will be age over 16 and purchases from the company in the past 12 months to increase the data’s relevance.
The collection of information will be carried out through an online survey. For this purpose, Fab company will send invitations to participate in the survey to its customers by e-mail or via SMS to a mobile number by using the available database. The survey will be anonymous and confidential; besides, the company will not transfer such data as the phone number and e-mail of customers to third parties, which does not violate the data privacy law. In addition, this method of collecting information does not raise ethical issues, since it is anonymous and requires respondents only answers about their preferences in delivery services.
A questionnaire designed for a survey will have several sections of questions. The first section will contain socio-demographic questions as control variables. Questions about the impact and importance of delivery time on customers’ satisfaction and the likelihood of repeat purchases will be placed in the second section. The third part will have questions about the relationship between the importance of the delivery fees and its timing. Consequently, the nominal, ordinal, and interval scales will be used to collect information. The nominal scale will be used for socio-demographic questions that require one definitive answer, as well as for some questions in the second section (Hair et al., 2016). An interval scale with response options from “very important” to “not important” will be applied in questions about the impact of delivery time on satisfaction with services. In part about the relationship between the importance of the delivery fees and its timing, an interval Likert scale with answers from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” will also be used, together with an ordinal scale.
Validation of a survey’s questions and scales is critical because their quality affects the results’ accuracy. In this study, the scales will be tested by using the content validity measure, which determines the extent to which the construct represents all research questions (Hair et al., 2016). For this purpose, the literature and research on customer satisfaction in general and online retail, in particular, will be reviewed to take into account all the necessary details. In addition, the company representatives and unbiased participants will take part in a pretest survey to assess the correctness of the wording and their relevance to the research topic. Thus, in case of errors and inaccuracies in the wording, the questions will be corrected to add validity.
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The main method of collecting data for this study is an online survey sent to Fab customers via e-mail or SMS with a link to the questionnaire. The survey combines qualitative and quantitative questions to test a hypothesis and get feedback from customers. The questionnaire will have multiple layers, the first of which will be demographic questions to exclude buyers under 16 and those who have not made a Fab purchase in the past year (Hair et al., 2016). The next layer will be the part considering the significance of delivery speed, followed by comparing the importance of the cost of delivery and its timing.
The study will use open-ended and closed-ended questions combined in different sections of the questionnaire. For example, the following questions require a “yes” or “no” answer:
- Delay in delivery will make/ made me refuse to buy Fab’s goods again?
- Do you agree to wait up to fourteen days for delivery, if there is no fee for it?
- Do you agree that delivery should be free for all company’s goods regardless of their cost?
The questionnaire will also include scaled response questions to determine the importance of shipping and its cost to buyers. For example, the following items require you to select answers from “Strongly agree” to “Strongly Disagree” scale:
- The absence of a delivery fee is more important to me than its time.
- Fab’s delivery fee is too high for its terms.
Another part of the questions requires you to select answers on a scale from “Very important” to “Not important at all”:
- How important is the delivery time for you?
- How important free shipping for you?
The study will also use open-ended questions to determine buyers’ experience with the company, and among them are such as:
- Have you had a negative delivery experience with the company that made you reject/ think about rejecting future purchases? Describe briefly.
- Would it affect your reaction if shipping was free? Why?
- What steps could the company take to fix the mistake and regain your trust?
All these questions will be pretested with a small sample of respondents to check the correctness of the wording, absence of inconsistency, and bias in all sections. This step is essential for the survey preparation process as it helps to avoid data inaccuracies and the likelihood of respondents not completing the survey (Hair, et al., 2016). The final copies of the questionnaires will be sent to the Fab representatives to agree on all the details and get approval to conduct a study with this version of the questionnaire.
Chan, T., Liu, Z., & Zhang, W. (2018). Delivery service, customer satisfaction and repurchase: Evidence from an online retail platform. Elsevier. Web.
Hair Jr.,J.F., Celsi, M.F., Ortinau, D.J., &. Bush, R.P. (2016). Essentials of marketing research (4th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.
Ma, S. (2017). Fast or free shipping options in online and Omni-channel retail? The mediating role of uncertainty on satisfaction and purchase intentions. The International Journal of Logistics Management. 28(4), 1099-1122, Web.
Nguyen, D. H., Leeuw, S. D., Dullaert, W., & Foubert, B. P. J. (2019). What is the right delivery option for you? Consumer preferences for delivery attributes in online retailing. Journal of Business Logistics, 40(4), 299–321. Web.
Shipping. (n.d.). Web.