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Open Engineering

formerly Central European Journal of Engineering

Editor-in-Chief: Ritter, William

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Management of Customer Service in Terms of Logistics Information Systems

Rudolf Kampf
  • The Institute of Technology and Business in České Budějovice, Department of Transport and Logistics, Okružní 517/10, 370 01 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Lenka Ližbetinová
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  • University of Economics and Management, Department of Marketing, Nárožní 2600/2a, 158 00 Praha 5, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
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/ Kamila Tišlerová
  • University of Economics and Management, Department of Marketing, Nárožní 2600/2a, 158 00 Praha 5, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
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Published Online: 2017-03-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/eng-2017-0006

Abstract

This paper is focused on perceiving the logistic services as the competition advantage in frame of the ecommerce. Customers consider their purchases in its complexity and all the logistic services should be designed to meet with customers’ preferences as much as possible. Our aim was to identify and evaluate of customers perceiving in frame of sales proposals offered by e-shops. Collected data of research were processed with the usage of cluster analysis. The aim of this paper is to present the results and conclusions from this research with focus on the elements of logistics services within e-commerce. These outputs can be used for knowledge base of information systems through which enterprises evaluate their decisions and selection of variants. For the enterprise, it is important to appropriate decisions about resource allocation and design of the structure of logistics services were set based on real customer preferences.

Keywords: e-commerce; preference of customers; logistics; knowledge base; logistics information systems

1 Introduction

Customer logistics service is not an idea of these days More than 50 years, it has been defined as a research issue and it is under development, since that time. It may mean different views for various organizations. Great emphasis in one organization may be placed on availability of a product at the time, at the place and in the quantities desired [1]. In another enterprise, it may be desirable to preserve the relative freedom in timing and in a way of processing customer orders [2]. At other cases and in other organizations, management concentrates on improving the condition of goods delivered to customers. Finally, the speed and dependability are the most important parameters in many logistics systems, i.e. the primary concern is to give to available items ordered to customers [35].

Customer satisfaction, service quality and relationship management [6] are among measures of success in dealing with the customer point of view. To achieve these, organizations must engage in practices that provide superior value [7] and services to their customers than the other competing organizations or channels provides, thus the level of customer satisfaction improves [810].

The information can be a “good” or “phenomenal” and without them, the proper operating of the enterprise is not possible. In the era of today’s solutions for the acquisition and transmission of information, information systems have an increasingly important role in the enterprise’s processes realization [11].

Because of the increase in volume and complexity ecommerce, information systems are the only way to accurately manage the product flow towards the customer [12].

Logistics information systems are an essential precondition for the effective operating logistics of enterprise [13]. Without the interactive transmission of current information, logistics flows could not be adequately secured [14, 15]. For decision-making and choice of variants [16, 17] in logistics, not only input data obtained from the evidence and analysis of the business have an important role, but also data of Knowledge Base are needed with intuition and experience of their users [18]. Within sales logistics in terms of orders processing via e-shop, we often encounter with conflicting solutions [19] how to meet customer expectations as much as possible without unnecessarily extra costs [20, 21].

We will be able to optimize the selection of alternatives when making decisions if we have knowledge about the preferences of customers in these decisions, [2225]. Buying through e-shop is associated with increased risk of customer dissatisfaction with the delivered goods and the necessity of its replacement or refund. That’s why, for enterprises, it is effective to monitor and reduce risk of target segment [26]. Better understanding of the customers based on precisions of segmentation is necessary [27, 28].

This article demonstrates a way to improve customer service and the potential to achieve competitive advantage. The aim of this paper is to present the results and conclusions from the research focused on identify and evaluate of customers perceiving elements of logistics services within e-commerce. These outputs can be used for knowledge base of information systems which enterprises used for evaluate their decisions and selection of variants. For the enterprise [29, 30], it is important to appropriate decisions about resource allocation and design of the structure of logistics services were created based on real customer preferences.

2 Methods

For filling the aim of paper, we used data from the research of customer preferences in the context of e-commerce. It was released in the Czech Republic in 2015 by questionnaire survey. There were interviewed 650 respondents of which we obtained 503 valid responses. In this research, the view was focused on the preferences of buyers of goods through e-commerce. The topics of questions were economic, logistic, and risk character. Addressing respondents was based on the quota selection, in which intention was to simulate a normal sample population of the Czech Republic. Therefore, the quotas were set at the ratio of respondents in terms of age, gender, income and place of residence (town/city) [31].

Filter question was confirmation of the respondents that they do their shopping through e-shops at least the value 4,000 CZK per year. The respondents were also observed depending on what type of articles they prefer more:

  • gifts (goods for somebody else resp. Impulse goods - when customers are not looking for specific products, but rather to inspire),

  • common goods (books, music, objects to 5,000 CZK - customers usually have a clear idea of what they want to buy),

  • purchases after a careful consideration (goods for more than 5,000 CZK),

  • configurable products (PCs compiled according to customer requirements or any other goods where you can dictate the desired properties, components).

Subsequently, their answers were focused on this selected category. These closed questions were directed to ascertain the preferences - the reasons for the purchase of goods via the Internet, as well as the preferences of individual elements in terms of logistics. Respondents evaluated their level of preference for each attribute on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means the lowest power preferences. Before creating the questionnaire, we had tested the hypothetical attributes - preferences of customers with the highest potential importance of perception discussed it within a focus group (13 participants), . Based on this discussion, we had selected 25 attributes for next search.

The questionnaire in electronic form was distributed specifically on the basis of criteria the quota selection. Table 1 shows the structure of the survey respondents.

Table 1

Structure of survey respondents.

Subsequently, the data were subjected to selection in terms of reliability and validity and processed by conventional statistical methods through the statistical program SPSS [32]. In this contribution, we evaluated 15 attributes, focusing on logistics and 4 on risk perception. To determine customer segments, we used cluster analysis, through which the customers were categorized into four clusters.

3 The results of customer preferences in the context of e-commerce

The article presents research that was focused on customer preferences within shopping in e-shops. The outputs are suitable for use in knowledge bases logistics information systems. In our article, we concentrate on the attributes relating to the logistic support e-commerce and the perception of risk from the customer’s perspective. The customers’ preferences (on scale 1 – 5, where 1 is the lowest priority) are evaluated based on these selected 19 attributes. In view of these attributes with the help of cluster analysis, we have been determined 4 clusters that divide customers due to their personal preferences and expectations. Table 2 shows the mean values for the investigated clusters attributes.

Table 2

Final Cluster Centers of selected attributes.

Characteristics of determined clusters:

Cluster 1 is represented by 44% of customers’ who prefer (in the same extent) possible delivery of goods courier enterprise (average preference 4.2), the personal pick up of the goods or delivery to the door. When paying, customers prefer the option of cash on delivery, payment transfer or online credit card payment. This customer group attaches the greatest importance to the delivery time and requires current information about the status of supplies. Medium length value fast delivery of shipments for this group understood ranging from one and a half or two days. Failure to set delivery time is an incentive to discourage further purchases in the e-shop. This group is formed by 50% of customers who make common purchases (less 5,000 CZK) and 20% consumers purchasing after due deliberation over 5,000 CZK. The customers in this group are mostly concerned about the risk of card misuse and an incorrect delivery of goods. This group is made up of 56% women.

Cluster 2: is made up 2% of customers who prefer priority delivery of a consignment by courier (value preferences 5) and pay only until the delivery of the consignment or using specialized payment systems (eg. PayPal). Delivery time for this group of customers is very important, but information about the time of delivery and shipment status, day and hour of delivery are not necessary for them. However, if the delivery time is not complied strictly, it discourages customers from buying another in a given e-shop. Fast delivery is an average of about 7.5 days for this group. The possibility of fraudulent e-shop is the most perceived as risk factor for these customers, unlike others that are not so important. This group is composed by 91% of customers buying configurable products (PCs assembled according to their requirements or any other goods where you can dictate the desired properties, components). The vast majority of the cluster is consisted by customers in the age category up to 25 years with the predominance representation of men (72%).

Cluster 3 consists of 25% customers who prefer the possibility of delivery by courier (preference 4.0) and also welcomed the possibility of a personal pickup (3.7). This group of customers chooses only the possibility of payment on delivery. Delivery time is important to them, like information about the exact time of delivery, the current status of the consignment and the day and hour of delivery. Time for quick delivery of a consignment is within 2 days. Failure a predetermined delivery times induces in him a tendency to discourage further purchase. Purchase in e-shop is too risky for them in terms of all stated factors. Respondents of this cluster most often mentioned concerns about the non-delivery of ordered goods (card misuse, incorrect deliveries, complications of complaints and fraudulent e-shop). Customers in this group are characterized primarily as making purchase after a careful consideration (33 %), 30 % of them are from the ordinary purchases group (items for 5,000 CZK) and 20 % giftware - impulse purchases (they do not look for exactly specific goods, but rather are inspired).

Cluster 4: This group consists of 29 % respondents. They prefer delivery option mainly by Czech post or courier. They prefer payment on delivery of goods, like members of other clusters. Other ways to payment are not so interesting for them. The customer of this group does not give high emphasis on time of delivery and provided information about the date and time of delivery compared to clusters 1 and 3. He can be more tolerant of failure to comply with the exact delivery times and clearly that does not deter him from making another purchase. By “fast delivery time of goods” he understands around 2 days. Mentioned risks are distinctly problematic for them, most perceived is the risk of complicated claim (3.6). Cluster is consisted of 43% customers buying common everyday goods (books, music, items for 5,000 CZK - without having a clear idea of what they want to buy) and 32% of customers who presents gifts and impulse purchases (regardless of exactly specific goods, rather are getting inspired).

4 Discussion

Segmenting customers into four clusters according to their preferences regarding logistics support and risk perceptions while shopping in e-shops was done to find out and outline a major group. In general it can be stated that most customers prefer delivery through the courier service and payment on delivery of goods [3335]. It is caused by the fact that customers perceive a strong risk of failure to deliver the goods particularly by unverified e-shops.

It follows that the preferences in case of repeated purchases are subject to change due to a reduced perception of risk. A separate group of customers are customers of cluster No. 2, who buy mainly configurable products (PCs assembled according to their requirements or any other goods where they can dictate the desired properties, components). This group is composed mainly of customers lower age groups (91% up to 25 years) and 72% of them are men. This group is less demanding for delivery time and information about it and prefers payments via specialized systems. These data are obtained in the Czech Republic and we can assume that in other states, these preferences are different.

5 Conclusion

The preferences of customers shopping in e-shops acquired due this research can be used as a basis for considering alternatives for the enterprise when deciding on the way of sales logistics. The data can be used for so-called Knowledge Base in these information systems. By optimizing the choice of elements of sales logistics, the costs can be more effective incurred with meeting customer requirements and thus, to obtain a satisfied customer having high potential of both current and future purchases.

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About the article

Received: 2016-06-24

Accepted: 2016-07-29

Published Online: 2017-03-20


Citation Information: Open Engineering, Volume 7, Issue 1, Pages 26–30, ISSN (Online) 2391-5439, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/eng-2017-0006.

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© 2017 Rudolf Kampf et al.. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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