Shipping industry continues to face dramatic changes in its environment, ranging from development in containerization, computerization and tele -communications to the emergence of global marketplace.
Perhaps the most significant trend - representing both a threat and oppor- tunity - is the increasingly competitive nature of shipping service market.
As the deregulation in the world shipping industry has continued, environments such as political, economic, and technological changes affecting shipping industry have made shippers-carriers relationship as a major concern for container shipping company.
As shown in The U.S. Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998, most of world container shipping companies have perceived customers satisfaction as a source to enhance the competitive advantage in a fierce competitive situation.
In order for the shipping companies to cope with those improvements and challenges, they should analyze and clarify customer's DM(decision making) process for the purchase of container shipping service.
The purpose of this study is to explore the degree of relationship between the determinants of shipper's DM process and the information search activities for the container shipping service.
An empirical study was carried out to examine how shippers make purchase decision by the provision of statistical evidence showing the impacts of involvement, experience and knowledge on the information search activities.
The frequency analysis and Pearson's correlation coefficients were used to find out overall nature of the data. To test the formulated hypothesis, multiple regression analysis, factor analysis, t-test and SEM(Structural Equation Modeling) were used.
The major research findings from the study were found as follows 1) The shipping company should understand the customer's DM process in order to find out the determinants of information search behavior.
2) As the marketing concept continues to change from transactional marketing concept to relationship marketing concept, the shipping company should adopt the effective marketing strategy to enhance the relationship between shipping companies and shippers.
This study has some limitations in the respondents who do not cover all kinds of shippers. More generalized research model for shipper's DM process and customer's satisfaction needs to be developed. 1) The degree of shipper's involvement in purchasing shipping services was found to be a discriminating variable affecting the information sources consisting of personal and non-personal information sources.
2) The positive relationship was found between the experiences on shipping services and non-personal information sources.
3) It was observed that as people had more experience searching for information , the more in depth their searches became
4) There existed a positive relationship between knowledges on shipping services and information search.
5) According to the SEM analysis, the shipper's information search on shipping services was also found to have a great influence on the shipper's purchasing behavior. The shipper's search was resulted in positive customer satisfaction.
On the basis of the results, managerial implications for container shipping company can be provided as follow