Cross-Cultural Differences and Similarities in Retailers' Branding and Digital Maturity: A Cross-Border Case Study

Cross-Cultural Differences and Similarities in Retailers' Branding and Digital Maturity: A Cross-Border Case Study

Andreas Hesse (Koblenz University of Applied Sciences, Germany), Pieter Steenkamp (Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa), Holger J. Schmidt (Koblenz University of Applied Sciences, Germany) and Virimai V. Mugobo (Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3115-0.ch009

Abstract

Digital disruption is not something that may happen in the future; it is currently happening and impacting all types of businesses, including retail. This chapter reflects cross-cultural similarities and differences. German and South African consumers increasingly use the internet to look for product information and to purchase online products and services. Nevertheless, about 25% of German and South African companies in the study sample are more or less offline, not offering even basic digital services, while a significant number of companies ignore opportunities for branding. The digital maturity and branding practices of 933 businesses located within the central business districts of two international cities of similar regional importance, namely Koblenz in Germany and Stellenbosch in South Africa, were investigated. Retailers were analysed in order to compare and contrast their progression along a digital maturity scale as well as their branding practices. The case study presented in this chapter aimed to provide a starting point for the development of such a picture.
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Background

Digital maturity and branding professionalism are two constructs that need to be explained in order for readers to interpret and understand the present research. We therefore provide a brief overview of the key terms that will be used when we present the results of our study. For reasons of space, we will refrain from a detailed examination.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Forerunners: The group of digital forerunners employ search engine advertising on a regular basis and in some cases offer free WiFi in their locations. Such companies offer various digital services and applications to their customers aiming for a better service.

Digital Maturity: Digital maturity is an important concept increasingly used to rate the technology-driven progress of industries, businesses and organizations. The term characterizes digital maturation as a process whereby a company becomes increasingly digital over time by leveraging digital technologies.

Digital Commerce: The term digital commerce is increasingly used encompassing all commercial services that build on electronic or digital platforms, processes, devices or applications. The term extends the term e-commerce which concentrates on electronic sales activities.

Omnichannel Behaviour of Customers: The term describes customers who switch touchpoints throughout their decision-making process.

Basic Onliners: The group of “Basic Onliners” refers to businesses that employ website marketing, at least by having a website, and social media marketing, with an account, in most cases, on Facebook. Basic digital services and applications are prevalent, for instance the companies can easily be found on search engines’ and Google Maps’ top results, whereas specific services are only identified in scattered instances.

Offliners: Offliners are businesses that do not use digital services and the Internet, or only use them to a limited extent. In other sources these are also referred to as digital latecomers or digital laggards.

Advanced Onliners: The term advanced onliners refers to a group of businesses that are advanced in digital habits characterized by their extensive application of website and social media marketing. In addition, omnichannel services are observed, albeit of a limited character.

Omnichanneling: Omnichanneling is an approach to sales that seeks to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience. Accordingly, omnichanneling reflects the need for retailers to keep all their channels up to date, with their digital appearances linking all their stores to their online platforms, and to be accessible on all the touchpoints that customers prefer.

Local Retailers: The term local retailers refers in particular to businesses that focus on a brick-and-mortar store, in many cases family owned with a longer history of providing services or selling goods in a limited geographic are.

Branding Practices: Branding practices refers to all kind of using brand elements like labelling, colours, slogans or else.

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