Even though recently we can see signs of world economy recovery, we are still afraid of tough international logistics environment and intense competition among the service providers since a lot of new building vessels especially mega vessels more than 8,000TEU will still be put into world-wide major shipping routes in very near future. So, International logistics enterprises (typically, ocean carriers) should adopt customer-oriented market strategies based on relationship marketing focusing on customer trust and long-term relationship with customers.
From the view of the customers, they can also get a stable service and comparatively low rates benefit by building close relationship with international logistics service providers.
Due to intensified competition between the logistics service providers, international logistics market has become more and more favorable to customers. As per this trend, international logistics enterprises have been paying keen attention to relationship marketing such as trust and long-term orientation to the customers instead of existing traditional means. This marketing concept has already been proved in many studies for other service industries. But in international logistics industry mainly in ocean carriers market which is known as very conservative market among various service industries, it is not proved yet so clearly.
The purpose of this empirical study is to examine whether this concept is valid and to explore the relationships between four variables and customer satisfaction are found to be negative. But, this should not be interpreted superficially since rapid growth of IT including utilization of internet makes it easy to access service providers' information directly. So, these components should be complemented by IT environment of service providers (in case of 'tangibles') and considered as basic (in case of 'responsiveness').
(4) Customer satisfaction and trust (in this study hypothesis 2), customer satisfaction and long-term orientation (hypothesis 3), trust and long-term orientation (hypothesis 4) are all proved as positively correlative. This shows basic research concept and model proved as acceptable and valid.
Some suggestions for the future research are as follows.
- More unique and proper questionnaire items needs to be developed for evaluation of the international logistics service quality and the ways of the measurement of service quality should be more elaborated.
- This study could be more fruitful if comparative study had been done for the difference between freight forwarder's companies and export/import companies. 'tangibles', 'responsiveness' and customer satisfaction are found to be positive. So, these components should be considered as important with the priority.
(3) Correlations between 2 remained components of service quality 'reliability', 'assurance', 'empathy' international logistics service quality, customer satisfaction, trust and long-term orientation.
The research methodologies used in this study are as follows.
Firstly, a literature review, related to the concept of the variables and correlations between them, has been carried out to set up research model.
Secondly, based on this model, a questionnaire survey during one month (from August till September, 2010) was performed to persons in charge working at freight forwarder's companies and export/import companies.
Thirdly, confirmatory factor analysis, reliability analysis using SPSSWIN and SEM using AMOS were used to analyze the data.
Major findings through this study could be summarized as follows.
(1) Five components of service quality in SERVPERF scale are proved as adequate for international logistics service quality contrary to many proceeding studies in which only 2, 3 or 4 components are discrepant as per factor analysis. The main reason for this can be explained some unique items for international logistics were added in the questionnaire based on proceeding studies.
(2) Correlations between 3 components of service quality