QUALITY ASSESSMENT OF SELECTED BOOKSELLING WEBSITES - Polish Journal of Management Studies

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QUALITY ASSESSMENT OF SELECTED BOOKSELLING WEBSITES

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QUALITY ASSESSMENT OF SELECTED BOOKSELLING WEBSITES

Chmielarz W.*


Abstract

The purpose of this article is to evaluate and select websites in Polish book sector with regard to quality measured by their usefulness for an individual client. First, the author  has presented characteristics of the sector and basic methodological assumptions of the study. Next, he has conducted evaluations by means of a simple scoring method, a scoring method with preferences and relational research using T. Saatys AHP (Analytic  Hierarchy Process) method. The findings have been analysed and the author has compared the results of the study. (JEL: L15,VL81, C88)


Key words: e-business, internet bookshops, quality assessment, scoring methods, relational methods.

Introduction and methodological assumptions

From the moment of the emergence of e-business, books and associated products (films, music, etc.) are one of the most developed economic sectors. In the years 2005-2006 the percentage  of Internet users buying books in the net reached 9-14%, in 2007 already 17%, and in 2008 it amounted to 18,8% [6]. The report commissioned by Money.pl portal and Wprost weekly shows that books were the most popular products involved in online purchases  (about 46% of purchases made via the Internet) [5]. In 2009 9% of all internet shops dealt with selling books [4]. It is the most stable and developed sector which a few years ago created its leader, Merlin.pl; however, in the past few years we observe  the emergence of its main competitor Empik.com, which until recently dealt mainly with traditional sale. The income of Merlin.pl shop amounted to 119m zlotys in 2008, with the number of orders exceeding a million, served by 194 employees. In 2008 Empik.com  reached an income at the level of 85m zlotys, with about 850,000 orders [3]. Among a group of bookshops whose income comes mainly from selling books, and not simultaneously from publishing them, we can distinguish Gandalf.com.pl (7.5m zlotys of net profit  in 2008 and 74,500 orders) in the third position, Wysylkowa.pl (4m of net profit); Lideria.pl (3.89m); Mareno.pl (2.5m); Poczytaj.pl (2.25m); Inbook.pl (2m); Zlotemysli.pl (1.75m); Petlaczasu.pl (1.5m). In 2008 other bookshops made profit below 1m zlotys.


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Summary

Applying both groups of methods in the assessment of bookselling websites appear to have brought about satisfactory results. The findings enabled the author to establish the order  of the most popular bookselling websites with regard to the identified criteria groups and the specified subcriteria. The author also considered both qualitative and quantitative criteria. The applied methods allowed for indicating unequivocal and comparable  positions in the ranking that concludes experts assessments. Due to the differences in the methodologies and the procedure for calculations, the author has applied additional assumptions rationalizing the methods and increasing the probability of results.  The obtained results are different because of applying various evaluation scales and entirely different references in criteria relations. Nevertheless, they allow for creating independent rankings taking into consideration very different preliminary research  assumptions (linear scale versus relational scale). It demonstrates that their usefulness in this kind of study has been confirmed.  However, both of these methods have their advantages and disadvantages.


Advantages of scoring (ranking) methods are primarily: an easy and user-friendly application procedure; lack of necessity to introduce additional assumptions with reference to population  distribution concerning the people who were surveyed; the ease of interpretation of results and, consequently, their large degree of reliability; short time needed to conduct the study and its relatively low costs. However, there appears criticism relating  to lack of identified references (relations) among criteria and a large degree of subjectivity in evaluations. In the article the author has tried to reduce the first inconvenience by applying the average preference scale. The second problem has been  reduced by applying mean values of experts evaluations.
In the conducted research the following advantages of the AHP method have been identified: the assumed relativism of evaluation criteria and realisation of the criteria in particular websites; relative elasticity in relation to  various classes of objects and a possibility of ordering decision variants in respect of synthetic criteria. There appeared a number of doubts concerning its practical application in relation to quality assessment of internet bookshops. These were: a  large degree of evaluations subjectivity, similarly to the case of scoring methods; considerable difficulties experienced by interviewers and experts in the case of application of the relational method, especially when the number of criteria and subcriteria  turns out to be a two-digit number or lack of theoretical bases for creating a hierarchy, which in the case of identical situations can point to significant differences in the findings. The first problem has been solved by the experts agreement concerning  the evaluation hierarchy and relations at the local and global level. The second problem has been eliminated by training experts on how to apply the AHP method. Evaluation criteria have been limited to four criteria groups: experts have agreed that appropriate  assessment of relations in the case of twelve criteria (as in the case of a scoring method) is very difficult, if not impossible. The third problem has been reduced in a practical way by identifying the main objective; relations of the upper level (preferences  of evaluation criteria) and lower level (preferences pertaining to websites in relation to criterion).
In each case the basic aim of the research was to establish the order of internet bookshops websites with regard to the applied quality criteria group. In both cases end users were interested mainly in a websites functionality  and economical aspects. Both groups of methods allow for various analyses of statistical data and practical solutions pertaining to websites. The discovered imperfection of procedures induces the author to look for more effective ranking methods, free  of the defects specified in this paper.


References

[1]   Chmielarz W.: Analysis of Attributes of Selected Internet Bookshops (Analiza atrybutow wybranych ksiegarni internetowych) in the materials of the conference: Human-Computer Interaction2003 (Interakcja Czlowiek-Komputer 2003)  in Reorganising Economic Processes and Creating Integrated Information Systems, edited by B. Kubiak, A. Korowicki; Gdansk, 2003, pp. 467-478.
[2]   Chmielarz W.: Characteristics and Evaluation of Selected Internet Bookshops in Poland (Charakterystyka i ocena wybranych ksiegarni internetowych w Polsce), Chapter XIV; part IV, Competitiveness of Polish Information Technology  as Compared with the European Union (Konkurencyjnosc polskiej informatyki na tle Unii Europejskiej), in: Competitiveness of Polish Economy under the Conditions of Polish Membership in the European Union (Konkurencyjnosc polskiej gospodarki w warunkach  czlonkostwa w Unii Europejskiej), WSEI Publishing House, Warsaw, 2004, pp. 99-106.
[3]   E-Commerce 2009, Internet Standard report, M. Grzechowiak, III edition, September 2009.
[4]   http://www.internetstandard.pl/whitepapers/1131/Raport.e.commerce.2009.html, pp.66-67.
[5]   E-Commerce in Poland 2009 (E-Commerce w Polsce 2009), report prepared by praktycy.com, Wroclaw, June 2009, http://www.praktycy.com.
[6]   Ranking of Internet Shops (Ranking sklepow internetowych), e-Money.pl and Wprost, October 2009. http://ranking.money.pl/2009/.
[7]   Millward Brown SMG/KRC Report, http://www.millwardbrown.com/sites/poland/, November 2009.
[8]   Saaty T.: Decisions Making with Dependence and Feedback. The Analytic Network Process. RSW Publications, Pittsburgh PA, 2001.
[9]   Saaty T.L.: How to Make a Decision: The Analytic Hierarchy Process, European Journal of Operational Research, No. 48, 1990, pp. 9-26.


OCENA JAKOSCI WYBRANYCH STRON INTERNETOWYCH SEKTORA KSIAZ KOWEGO


Streszczenie


Celem artykulu jest ocena i wybor stron internetowych polskiego sektora ksi azkowego w odniesieniu do jakosci otrzymanej pod wzgledem przydatno sci tych stron dla klienta indywidualnego. W pierwszej czesci autor przedstawil charakterystyk e sektora oraz podstawowe zalozenia metodologiczne dotyczace badania. Nast epnie przeprowadzono ocene za pomoca prostej metody punktowej, metody punktowej z  preferencjami oraz badanie relacyjne z wykorzystaniem metody AHP Saaty'ego (Analytic Hierarchy Process). Na koncu Autor przeanalizowal  wyniki badan oraz porownal ich rezultaty.


 
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