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The trustworthiness of internet-based quality signals: an interactivity perspective

Wenbin Ni (School of Business Administration, Zhejing University of Economics and Finance, Hangzhou, China)
Hongyi Sun (City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 24 November 2017

Issue publication date: 13 March 2018




This 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.


Empirical data are collected from 261 Chinese female university students. Partial least squares structural equation modelling is used to test the conceptual model.


Both 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/implications

The 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 implications

On-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.


Researchers 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.



This paper has the financial support from National Social Science Foundation of China (No. 16BGL082).


Ni, W. and Sun, H. (2018), "The trustworthiness of internet-based quality signals: an interactivity perspective", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 195-210.



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