The aim of this research is to understand if customer experiences have a direct role in creating true customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is a well-defined concept, but research does not specifically outline the importance of customer experiences in the retail industry. The retail industry has been hit by the growth of online retailers, which has created many challenges for the traditional high-street stores. This subsequently impacts retailers who now have to manage both online and offline customer experiences, but research is required to understand how advances in technology, such as the Internet, have impacted traditional customer loyalty programs. Therefore, the research also uncovers the impact of digitalisation on customer loyalty.
The research question is answered through primary research, an internet-based survey, and secondary research. Secondary research allowed the researcher to better understand customer loyalty trends, from an industry perspective, something not uncovered from the primary research. This secondary research highlighted the growth of predictive analytics, a tool which can be used by retailers to create customer insights and better the customer journey. The secondary research also confirmed trends from the primary research, cementing the findings with research undertaken on a much larger scale. The primary research illustrated the importance of customer experiences, with it having a direct impact on a customer’s loyalty towards retailers. A key element of this experience was the role of in-store employees and their attitudes, highlighting the importance of customer service training for retailers trying to encourage footfall instore. Furthermore, customer’s still have a preference to shop in-store, showing that despite the growth of online shopping, retailers still have an opportunity to create a differentiated experience to encourage in-store shopping.
The research created several implications for the retail industry, for example, the importance of customer service training, a key element of the customer experience. Furthermore, loyalty programs are insufficient to drive customer loyalty alone, as consumers become a member of several loyalty programs comparing offers before making the final purchase decision. Consequently, retailers need to provide a differentiated experience as a means of cementing a customer’s loyalty.
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