PurposeThis study aims to examine the trustworthiness of internet-based quality signals (specifically webpages and before-sale services) from the perspective of interactivity by evaluating the associations between on-line signals of product quality and the off-line perceived quality of actual products.Design/methodology/approachEmpirical data are collected from 261 Chinese female university students. Partial least squares structural equation modelling is used to test the conceptual model.FindingsBoth webpages and before-sale services are positively associated with off-line perceived quality, but only the quality of before-sale service has a direct association with customer satisfaction. Webpages and before-sale services are both trustworthy signals for indicating the quality of physical products; however, these signals provide different levels of trustworthiness.Research limitations/implicationsThe interactivity perspective supplements information-economics theory in examining the trustworthiness of internet-based signals. A signal is a trustworthy indicator only if customers perceive a close relationship between the quality of the signal and the actual product quality.Practical implicationsOn-line sellers should improve the reciprocity and controllability of communications from a buyer’s perspective and should pay more attention to the strategic role of on-line communication for improving customer service.Originality/valueResearchers have evaluated the trustworthiness of on-line quality signals from an information-economics perspective. This study extends these previous studies by addressing the perspective of interactivity. Two types of product-quality signals, including webpages and before-sale services, are assessed in terms of their trustworthiness by examining how these signals relate to off-line perceived quality and customer satisfaction.
Journal of Services Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 9, 2018
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