Investigating factors affecting customer satisfaction and the utilization of emarketplaces

2017-03-01T23:33:08Z (GMT) by Algarni, Fahad Ali S
The increased use of Internet-based web applications in business organisations today has brought huge opportunities. A major focus of organisations in the volatile business environment, customer satisfaction, has become one of the key measures of service quality outcomes, which in this thesis, is determined by the degree of utilization of the eMarketplace. Although much research has addressed the issues surrounding the adoption of technologies, particularly eMarketplaces, investigations into customer satisfaction and utilization of eMarketplaces are still lacking. For this reason, this thesis aims at answering the following research question: What are the factors affecting customer satisfaction and the utilization of eMarketplaces? A review of the literature on eMarketplaces identified five key factors, which are pivotal to the success of the eMarketplace, namely security, complementary services, strong infrastructure, reliability and regulatory requirements. Six hypotheses were proposed to test the impact of these factors on customer satisfaction and the utilization of eMarketplaces. Employing a multiphase mixed methods design, data was collected in two phases. The first phase of data collection involved surveys of 337 eMarketplace users from Saudi Arabia. The survey participants were divided into two groups based on their age, experience and their involvement with technology. The first group comprised non-fulltime workers (n=156) and the second group comprised fulltime workers (n=181). Outcomes of the first phase of data collection supported the proposed hypotheses with differences between the two groups in relation to the importance of factors relating to eMarketplace infrastructure and regulatory requirements. There were common uncertainties among the non-full-time group’s answers, which in turn resulted in weak support for eMarketplace infrastructure and regulatory requirements. Outcomes of the second phase of data collection using semi-structured interviews further clarified the issues raised from the findings of the first phase whereby participants recommended additional sub-factors, which were used to revise the research model. In addition, the interview findings helped to identify the barriers resulting in the low utilization of eMarketplaces in developing countries such as Saudi Arabia. This thesis contributes to the existing research on eMarketplaces by providing a theoretical framework involving the factors that positively influence customer satisfaction and utilization of eMarketplaces. It shows how customer satisfaction can be determined and demonstrates its correlation with the utilization of eMarketplaces. The findings further enhance the understanding of eMarketplaces in Saudi Arabia, particularly in terms of factors that ensure customer satisfaction and the desired utilization level. It contributes to building an empirical foundation for understanding the needs of customers from specific cultural backgrounds. Future research is vital to validate the research model in relation to different settings e.g. in countries with similar cultural backgrounds.