A Study of the Influence of Cross-Channel Integration in Customer Retention

A Study of the Influence of Cross-Channel Integration in Customer Retention

Youngkeun Choi (Sangmyung University, Seoul, Korea)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCRMM.2020010102
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The focus of this study is how cross-channel integration increases trust and customer retention. By proposing the concepts of channel integration quality as different ways to perceive cross-channel integration, this study develops a model that explores the sub-factors of channel integration quality and the role of trust for consumer retention in omnichannel service. For this, this study surveys 352 consumers using omnichannel service in Korea and analyzes the data using AMOS 24. In the results, first, content consistency and process consistency as the sub-factors of channel integration quality increase trust. Second, trust increases customer retention. Finally, content consistency and process consistency increase consumer retention through trust. The findings contribute to research on customer retention by paying scholarly attention to cross-channel integration characterized by channel integration quality.
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1. Introduction

In the competitive retailing environment, recent retailers are increasingly dedicated to omnichannel strategies that utilize cross-channel integration (CCI) to coordinate various retail channels to service and maintain customers (Li et al., 2018). CCI is designed to enhance customer access and interaction with online and offline channels during a shopping trip to enhance customer experience and retain customers (Chen et al, 2018). Customer retention is considered a core goal of CCI (Bell et al, 2014). However, previous empirical discoveries about how CCI affects customer retention are mixed. For example, despite the fact that some studies provide support for the positive impact of CCI (Frasquet et al., 2017), other studies indicate no significance (Chiu et al., 2011). Therefore, scholars are demanding more research into the potential contingencies that can affect customer responses to CCI at omnichannel retailers.

Although omnichannel business is attracting increasing interests from both industry and academia worldwide, prior IS studies have placed a great emphasis on single or multiple channels (Chen & Shen, 2015), and research regarding omnichannel is still in its early stages. Some recent research on omnichannel in information systems and marketing domains largely focuses on proposing research agenda (Saghin et al., 2017), and addressing the challenges and opportunities in omnichannel practices from a firm-level perspective (Luo, 2016), rarely exploring the role of customers in omnichannel business. It is necessary to notice that, although the retailers have recognized the significance of omnichannel and began to implement their omnichannel strategies, the extent to which such strategy can achieve the desired results greatly depends on customers' perception and usage of the delivered omnichannel service. In fact, omnishoppers are believed as the most valuable consumers for retailers (Payne et al 2017), and retaining enough omnishoppers is also crucial to the success of omnichannel strategy (Saghin et al., 2017). Based on this reason, a theoretical investigation on customer responses to CCI at omnichannel retailers from a customer viewpoint clearly deserves more attention.

Notably, a few studies have emphasized the necessity to explore customers' omnichannel usage behavior, but theory-driven empirical studies are still limited (Park & Lee, 2017). Some recent studies have tried to build on the well-established IS theories such as the technology acceptance model (TAM), the theory of reasoned action (TRA), and the extended unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT) to explain customer usage and purchasing behavior in the omnichannel context, by exploring the effects of perceived usefulness, ease of use, customer attitudes, and social influences (Berg & Tornblad, 2017). Although these classic theories have strong theoretical explanatory powers in predicting usage behavior for a wide variety of contexts (Venkatesh et al., 2012), it is important and necessary to understand the uniqueness of a specific context, beyond users' perceptions towards general information systems. In particular, the specificity of omnichannel business and the key differences between omnichannel and other primary channel strategies used by the retailers should be further considered to develop a deep understanding of customer omnichannel service usage behavior.

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