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Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management
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Article citation: Neil Towers, (2011) "Editorial", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 39 Iss: 10, pp. -
For this edition, there is a retail marketing theme from a customers perspective with papers focusing on Lebanon, Malaysia and the USA. The first two papers address socio-demographic factors influencing consumer information and also search strategies empirically identify categories of online shopping experiences and web site functions. The second two papers develop a reliable and valid scale for measuring the service quality of retail loyalty programmes (LPSQual) in the context of department stores and superstores in Malaysia and also examine mature consumers’ motives in the selection of apparel and footwear brands.
The first contribution by Mehmet Haluk Köksal examines the personal, situational and socio-demographic factors influencing consumer information search strategies whilst Christmas shopping in a religiously diverse Middle Eastern country of Lebanon. Employing a structured questionnaire adopted from Laroche et al. (2000), respondents were chosen by systematic random sampling in malls, department stores and retail outlets in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, for over a three-week period immediately prior to Christmas Day, 2008. The study identified the effects of some personal and situational on the different consumer information search strategies. Of the personal factors, it was found that the bargain hunters sought general and specific information as well as information from sales staff, whilst the leader type looked for general and specific information. The study also determined that risky and costly gifts, strict budgets and the amount of money spent on gifts were the main situational factors influencing each type of consumer information search.
The second paper by Iryna Pentina, Aliaksandr Amialchuk and David George Taylor aims to empirically identify categories of online shopping experiences and web site functions facilitating these experiences, and to test the effect of those experiences on browser satisfaction, conversion and online store performance. Two analytical methods (survey-based exploratory factor analysis and secondary-data-based regressions) were employed to test the mediating role of browser satisfaction between online shopping experiences and e-tail performance for 115 top online retailers during 2006-2008. In addition to supporting the existence of such parallel in-store and online experiences as sensory, cognitive, pragmatic and relational, a new type of online shopping experience (interactive/engagement) was identified. It comprises customer involvement with the online store and with friends and other shoppers via the online store interface. The mediating role of browser satisfaction in increasing sales and traffic to online stores was confirmed. Investing in web site features that facilitate such social experiences as product reviews and ratings sharing, interacting with the site itself (site personalisation and mobile interface) and through the site with others (social networking, wish list, e-mail-a-friend, etc.) can positively influence site visitor satisfaction and lead to increased traffic and sales.
The third paper by Nor Asiah Omar and Rosidah Musa aims to empirically develop a reliable and valid scale for measuring the service quality of retail loyalty programmes (LPSQual) in the context of department stores and superstores in Malaysia. By adapting the process proposed by Churchill (1979) for developing measures of marketing constructs, an instrument to assess loyalty programme service quality (LPSQual) in Malaysia is formulated. The methodology consists of developing the scale based on a literature review and qualitative method. The proposed scale is then purified and validated through exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. They suggest that retail managers should give serious thought to the non-material or “soft-benefits” component in a loyalty programme which emphasizes courteous/helpful and personalized services. Thus, managers need to focus on service personnel by providing training to upgrade employees’ skills in creating and delivering pleasant experience/service encounters to cardholders.
The final contribution by George P. Moschis, Jodie L. Ferguson and Meng Zhu examines mature consumers’ motives in the selection of apparel and footwear brands and reasons for patronizing department stores. Differences in brand-choice motives are assessed among age cohort groups within the mature consumers segment as well as mature consumer segments defined by various socio-demographic and lifestyle factors (i.e. gerontographic segmentation). A US nation-wide random sample of 10,400 head of households was surveyed with regard to reasons for choosing apparel and footwear brands and department stores. The results show that older consumers not only differ from their younger counterparts but are also heterogeneous when it comes to reasons for choosing specific brands and department stores. Specifically, price reductions and special sales drive the majority of mature consumers’ brand selection, while advice or requests of spouse or other relatives and recommendations of salespeople are important factors in brand selection. Ease of returning products or getting refunds and frequency of items on sale were the main drivers of department store patronization.