Are third-party sellers damaging online platforms’ customer relationships?!

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The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of customers’ attributions of controllability over a product failure caused by a third-party seller on customers’ satisfaction with an online platform, with the moderating factor of customer loyalty towards the online platform. An investigation into this topic is crucial since the relatively new and complex online platform environment and relatively old literature of attribution theories regarding product failures have not met yet, even though prior studies demonstrated that customers’ attributions of controllability over product failures affect customers’ satisfaction with firms. An online scenario-based experiment was conducted with 242 participants. The results of this study demonstrated that customers who believe that a third-party seller has control over a product failure are less satisfied with the online platform via which they purchased the product than customers who believe the failure was uncontrollable by a third-party seller. Besides, the extent to which customers are loyal towards an online platform has no significant positive influence on the negative relationship between controllability over a product failure caused by a third-party seller and customers’ satisfaction with the online platform. Additionally, the results indicate that customer loyalty towards an online platform significantly affects customers’ satisfaction with the platform. Based on the results, this study provides several theoretical- and managerial implications. In addition, this study discusses multiple directions for future research to extend the literature on customers’ attributions of controllability regarding product failures in an online platform environment.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen