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The Effects of Online and Offline Customer Experiences on Customer Loyalty in Chinese Fresh E-commerce

Written by Zhiqiu Ye, Xinyi Chen

Paper category

Master Thesis

Subject

Business Administration>General

Year

2020

Abstract

Master Thesis: With the gradual upgrade of China's fresh food consumption, the integration of online platforms and retail entities has brought consumers a more convenient and diverse fresh consumption experience. This article aims to explore the impact of online and offline customer experience on the loyalty of Chinese fresh food e-commerce customers. This article draws on the strategic experience module and the situational experience theory, and proposes three influencing factors for both online and offline situations. Specifically, this article analyzes the impact of aesthetic experience, online service experience, virtual community perception experience, environmental experience, service staff experience, and community perception experience on customer loyalty. As the leader of fresh food e-commerce, Hema Fresh Food has achieved great success especially in this epidemic and has been recognized by Chinese consumers. This study collected 298 online questionnaires from customers of Hema Fresh in China, and used SPSS to perform regression analysis to test these six factors. The empirical results show that improving customer aesthetic experience, online service experience, environmental experience, and community perception experience can increase customer loyalty in Chinese fresh food e-commerce, but our results do not indicate that virtual community perception experience and service staff experience can increase customer loyalty At the same time, this study found that online and offline situations have different impacts on the loyalty of fresh food e-commerce customers. By providing China's fresh food e-commerce experience and background, it has enriched the fresh food e-commerce research. In addition, this study explores the impact of different types of customer experience on customer loyalty from the online and offline conditions of customer consumption, which is helpful to the study of customer experience and provides inspiration for China's fresh food e-commerce to improve customer loyalty. The term "experience" can be traced back to the 1970s. Toffler (1970) believes that experience involves the connection between an individual's inner world and the economic activities of the outer world. This view has been promoted by Pine and Gilmore (1998), who emphasized that experience is a beautiful feeling from the heart. From the perspective of psychology and marketing, customer experience is not only affected by the satisfaction of functional benefits of products and services, but also by the satisfaction of emotional benefits (Addis & Holbrook, 2001). Therefore, experience, products and services are inseparable. Experience is a customer’s subjective feelings and reactions to the services and products provided by the company (Otto & Ritchie, 1996), a comprehensive product of sensibility and rationality (Schmitt, 1999), and an unforgettable experience that companies create for customers (Pine and Gilmore, Year 1999). The improvement of living standards gives customers more opportunities to pay attention to the shopping experience.Copeland (1923) was the first person to introduce the concept of loyalty to the enterprise. There are many views on the dimensions of customer brand loyalty, mainly involving behavioral loyalty and attitude loyalty. Behavioral loyalty defines customer brand loyalty from the behavioral characteristics of customers. The specific manifestations are repeated purchase behavior (Tucker, 1964), high-frequency purchase behavior (Jacoby & Kyner, 1973), only buying specific brands (Brown, 1953; Newman & Werbel, 1973), and active recommendation behavior (Parasuraman & Berry) , 1985). However, this type of customer loyalty ignores the psychological and emotional factors behind customer behavior, and cannot evaluate the true and false of loyalty (Jacoby & Chestnut, 1978). Attitude Loyalty​​​​​​​​​ The point is that customers’ preferences for a particular brand remain the same (Assael, 1998), resulting in a sense of belonging or positive emotions (Hallowell, 1996; Meyer & Schwager, 2007). This type of customer loyalty ignores behavioral characteristics, and behavioral loyalty is the direct source of corporate profits. As individual attitudes that strongly influence customer behavior, they are interrelated and interdependent. Therefore, many scholars believe that customer loyalty is a combination. True customer loyalty is composed of customers' repeated purchase behavior and positive attitude orientation based on its internal factors. In this sense, customer loyalty will not be disturbed by the environment and competitors (Oliver, 1997), except that customers repeatedly purchase specific products and have a strong willingness to continue buying. This study combines behavioral loyalty and attitude loyalty, using the definition of Dick and Basu (1994). The antecedent of customer loyalty is a common problem in marketing research. Dick and Basu (1994) proposed their loyalty framework, that is, the formation of customer loyalty depends on the strength of the relationship between the relative attitude of customers and the willingness to repeat purchases. Oliver (1999) pointed out that customer loyalty must include customer satisfaction, but customer satisfaction does not necessarily mean loyalty. Customer satisfaction also affects e-loyalty (Reichheld & Schefter, 2000; Yoon et al., 2013). In addition, customer trust is an important factor affecting customer loyalty, and many scholars have conducted research on it (Gommans et al., 2001; Wolfinbarger & Gilly, 2001). Switching costs are another factor worth considering. Gefen (2003) used switching costs to influence customer loyalty through a survey of Amazon online bookstore customers. In general, excellent customer attitude and customer trust will have a positive impact on customer loyalty, and high customer satisfaction and switching costs can also increase customer loyalty. Customer experience is an important driver of customer loyalty, which has been widely recognized in marketing research. Al-Awadi (2002), Sumino and Harada (2004) found that customer experience directly affects customer loyalty. In the study of customer experience, Hsu and Tsou (2011) took Schmitt's (1999) experience dimension as a prototype to verify that there is a strong correlation between customer experience and customer loyalty. In the research on Internet websites, Shi (2009) found that customer experience is still an important factor in the virtual economy and is directly related to customer loyalty (such as website experience and aesthetic experience). This shows that both online customer experience and offline customer experience can directly affect customer loyalty. Customer experience is directly related to customer loyalty, and indirectly affects customer loyalty through other factors (Pullman & Gross, 2004; Ha & Perks, 2005). Oliver (1980) proposed that overall customer satisfaction is cumulative, which is based on the evaluation of customers' general experience of products and services. Some scholars use customer satisfaction and customer participation as intermediate variables to study the relationship between customer experience and customer loyalty. They concluded that a good customer experience will promote the formation of customer loyalty (Bennett et al., 2005). A high-quality customer experience can increase customer loyalty by improving customer satisfaction and customer trust or improving customer shopping attitudes. In short, although the conclusions drawn from the specific research objects and purposes are not the same, the comprehensive experience model that affects loyalty has been widely used and verified. Read Less