Linking Order Fulfillment Performance to Referrals in Online Retailing: An Empirical Analysis

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Finance and Supply Chain Management

Publication Date



Referral management for online retailers is a strategically important activity, as referrals offer a highly cost-effective method of customer acquisition. In fact, online customers mention referrals as the second-most common reason for choosing to shop at a particular retailer, second only to search engine suggestions. However, while online retailers are able to improve their visibility on search engines through focused keyword insertions, they are often unable to pinpoint the drivers of referral behavior among their customers. The current research examines the relationship between two key dimensions of online retailing: order fulfillment cycle times and referral behavior. Employing a theory of customer appraisal and empirically testing the ensuing model using structural equation modeling, we find that excellent order fulfillment is instrumental in generating referrals for the online retailer, even after factoring in product quality.


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Journal of Business Logistics