The Nature of E-Loyalty in B2C E-Commerce

The Nature of E-Loyalty in B2C E-Commerce

Daniel Tomiuk (McGill University, Canada) and Alain Pinsonneault (McGill University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2002 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-930708-43-3.ch022
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Abstract

The present chapter discusses the nature of e-loyalty in B2C e-commerce. Based on previous theoretical work on loyalty in traditional commercial settings, we argue that highly affective forms of loyalty are unlikely to develop in online environments. Rather, we suggest that the e-commerce environment promotes self-sufficiency and mitigate the need for customer/employee interaction which represents a primary source of affect. Research on relationships in both social psychology and marketing suggests that this loss may not affect all customers equally. We distinguish between customers who value establishing interpersonal relationships with company employees (communally oriented) from customers who see customer/employee interactions as utilitarian and who derive little social benefits from such encounters (exchange oriented). The chapter suggests that online environments may be seen as useful by communally-oriented customers but relationally unsatisfying. Conversely, there exists a good “fit” between what exchange oriented customers value in their relationships with companies and what online environments offer. Consequently, online companies should not be surprised to find that e-loyal customers may be predominantly exchange oriented. Finally, we argue that because e-loyalty lacks a strong affective foundation, it may be less enduring than “traditional” customer loyalty. Implications of our analysis and areas for future research are discussed.

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