Omnichannel in the digital age : a focus on the convenience store industry
Gibson, Samantha Celeste
University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
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Omnichannel for retail organizations has grown significantly over the recent decade. Retailers are challenged to find ways to connect with tech-savvy consumers and encourage repeat visits and positive word-of-mouth referrals. The digital decade has introduced many purchase and communication options such as buy online and ship to consumer or buy online and ship to store, along with social media interactions, and the integration of all these channels creates a need for a more seamless transaction to the customer. The Covid-19 crisis has certainly revealed the advantages of omnichannel, especially in its capacity to satisfy customer needs for flexible but also reliable shopping experiences when the inability to physically shop was limited by the virus and the ability to shop online with delivery increased. The challenge for retailers today is that the greater the channel options, the more the complex the store environment. Retail stimuli, such as price, store atmosphere, service quality, and product assortments are as important as the integrated channel synergies. A clean store with great service, competitive attractive prices, and optimal product assortments remains top priority as does the need to integrate seamless transactions and channel options. Essay 1 will focus on ensuring a seamless customer journey, both offline and online, to assure supplier and retailer relationships, including measuring how successfully the brick-and-mortar supports the online sales component. One retail industry that is experiencing challenges with customer trips is convenience stores. Convenience stores have been slow to respond to the digital decade. Research on the convenience store industry from a consumer perspective has been lacking. Essay 2 applies the theoretical model developed in Essay 1 to customers of convenience stores. The intention of the empirical study is to explain the convenience store consumers’ behaviors and experiences and to determine if hedonic needs will outweigh utilitarian needs to help improve revisit intentions. In addition, customer insights into the convenience store environment will help convenience retail practitioners better understand the relationship among customer preferences, hedonic or utilitarian experiences, satisfaction, and revisit intentions. The convenience store industry, with limited capital, must appreciate what channel options will supply them the highest return on investment. The industries takeovers have led to many different information technology systems that are difficult to integrate and are aging. By applying the conceptual model developed in Essay 1 to the convenience store industry one can confirm through rigorous analysis of customer preferences in convenience stores if customers are more hedonic-oriented versus utilitarianoriented and what elements in the store may add or detract from the overall customer satisfaction and revisit intentions. Customers in convenience stores are not returning; could the issue be the stimuli in the store is leading to decreased visits? Will certain stimuli such as omnichannel help with more of a hedonic customer experience to enhance satisfaction and revisit intentions? Focusing on in-store stimuli, such as price, product assortment, service quality, and store atmosphere (overall cleanliness and food cleanliness), combined with a digital platform that supports synergistic digital omnichannel options, this research uncovers the customer profile of a convenience store and the needed changes the retail industry needs to overcome their apocalypse.
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