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Increasing Customer Satisfaction through Omnichannel Retailing

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Customer satisfaction is one of the success factors for many retailers. With the widespread use of smartphones worldwide, retailers have adopted many new innovative and disruptive retail business models. Digitalization brings retail business into a new era and has profoundly and positively affected the business' strategy. Retailers strive to provide customers with an easy, smooth, happy, joyful, and relaxed shopping experience. One of the disruptive digital innovations in retailing is Omnichannel Retailing. The ideas are to rejuvenate, revitalize, and increase customer satisfaction during their shopping journey either at the store (offline) or through online shopping platforms. The customer shopping experience is enhanced by providing channels and touchpoints that are emerged during their shopping journey. The objective of this study is to review the customer relationship literature within the context of the omnichannel retailing perspective. This study proposes a conceptual model to understand the factors that increase customer satisfaction through omnichannel retailing.
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Increasing Customer Satisfaction through Omnichannel
Retailing
Sean Jui Hee Ng, Adriana Mohd. Rizal, Haliyana Khalid, Theresa Char Fei
Ho and Musli Sahimi
To Link this Article: http://dx.doi.org/10.6007/IJARBSS/v11-i11/11267 DOI:10.6007/IJARBSS/v11-i11/11267
Received: 09 September 2021, Revised: 11 October 2021, Accepted: 30 October 2021
Published Online: 10 November 2021
In-Text Citation: (Ng et al., 2021)
To Cite this Article: Ng, S. J. H., Rizal, A. M., Khalid, H., Ho, T. C. F., & Sahimi, M. (2021). Increasing Customer
Satisfaction through Omnichannel Retailing. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and
Social Sciences, 11(11), 696 707.
Copyright: © 2021 The Author(s)
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Increasing Customer Satisfaction through
Omnichannel Retailing
Sean Jui Hee Ng1, Adriana Mohd. Rizal2, Haliyana Khalid3,
Theresa C.F. Ho4 and Musli Sahimi5
1,2,3,4Azman Hashim International Business School, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Malaysia,
2,3University of Business and Technology, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 5Graduate School of
Business, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia
Abstract
Customer satisfaction is one of the success factors for many retailers. With the widespread
use of smartphones worldwide, retailers have adopted many new innovative and disruptive
retail business models. Digitalization brings retail business into a new era and has profoundly
and positively affected the business' strategy. Retailers strive to provide customers with an
easy, smooth, happy, joyful, and relaxed shopping experience. One of the disruptive digital
innovations in retailing is Omnichannel Retailing. The ideas are to rejuvenate, revitalize, and
increase customer satisfaction during their shopping journey either at the store (offline) or
through online shopping platforms. The customer shopping experience is enhanced by
providing channels and touchpoints that are emerged during their shopping journey. The
objective of this study is to review the customer relationship literature within the context of
the omnichannel retailing perspective. This study proposes a conceptual model to understand
the factors that increase customer satisfaction through omnichannel retailing.
Keywords: Omnichannel, Customer Satisfaction, Convenient, Enjoyable, Comfortable, Trust.
Introduction
Customer satisfaction is essential for the retailer to maintain its sustainability and
profitability. Many world-beating retailers are striving to achieve and exceed customer
expectations to increase customer satisfaction levels. Customer satisfaction is a feeling of fun,
entertainment, enjoyment, and pleasantness during the shopping journey. According to
Azhari and Benett (2015), customer satisfaction is derived from customers' overall experience
throughout their shopping journey, from searching products, researching, making a purchase
decision, and receiving after-sales service from the retailers. Customer satisfaction is a
customer's overall and holistic measurement of products or services in meeting and fulfilling
customer expectations. Retailers have attempted many efforts to increase customer
satisfaction through an omnichannel retailing strategy. Recently, the usage of digital
technologies and processes has enhanced the shopping experience for customers. Advances
in Augmented Reality (A.R.), Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), Virtual Reality (V.R.), and Blockchain
technology take the customer purchasing experience to new heights (Cai and Lo, 2020).
Omnichannel retailing has been extensively introduced into the business model and company
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policy by many retailers such as Walmart, Macy, Amazon, Uniqlo, Zara, and H&M to enrich
customer shopping experience (Klie, 2014; Manion, 2015; McCarthy, 2017; Skrovan, 2017;
Waldron, 2018).
According to Manion (2015), one of the biggest retailers in the retail industry, Walmart, has
embarked and positioned the company towards omnichannel marketing (Loafman, 2020;
Skrohe van, 2017). This strategy has been deployed into Walmart's global strategy plans and
embraces in between online and offline channels, with the presence of its 11,000 brick-and-
mortar stores globally. Walmart U.S announced an overall revenue of $137.74 billion in 2Q
2020 (Redman, 2020), up 5.6% from the previous year, with net sales increased 9.5% at $
93.28 billion in the same period. The results attributed to the launching of omnichannel
retailing in fully transforming the organization's core competency to integrate its distribution
and supply chain nationwide since 2015. Amazon is also exploring an omnichannel strategy
to make it become the earth's most customer-centric company (Serrano, 2021). Amazon has
optimized its key metrics to create a seamless and holistic shopping experience for its
customers across all channels with simultaneously selling channel integration. The strength
lies in Amazon's online data collection to provide a personalized purchase experience,
respond immediately, and interact with the customers across all channels.
According to Centric Digital (2016), the omnichannel strategy helps to turnover Macy's sales
in three-year in a row. The 150-year-old department store has made a turnaround of its
fortune through its digital transformation since 2010. Through a holistic omnichannel strategy
implanted into Macy's operation and workforce, Macy successfully integrated and
synthesized customers' shopping experience into a new digital exciting experience (Lauchlan,
2019; Malinowska, 2019). Similarly, a Japan-based fast fashion designer, manufacturer, and
retailer, Fast Retailing Co., has developed its omnichannel strategy to increase customer
satisfaction. With the slogan made for all, the company with more than 834 active stores in
2017 worldwide emerged as an online player. Chairman Yanai invested in apps to rival other
online retailers to collect data on customers' purchase history and preferences to create an
authentic personalized omnichannel customer experience for the Uniqlo system to
recommend clothes that match customers' needs (aCommerce, 2017; WARC, 2018).
Another world giant clothing retailer Inditex (Zara) has reported its 1Q 2019 net sales to
increase 5% at $ 10.18 billion compared to the previous year, which contributed by 12% online
sales, but 88% was from the physical store. The chairman and CEO Isla commit to providing
customer-driven quality fashion and focusing on digital transformation at its integrated store
and online sales platform by reaching customers using online and offline technologies and
touchpoints (Abano, 2019). In H&M 2017 Annual Report, the company announced the
innovation to integrate its brick-and-mortar store with the digital channels to provide the
customer with an easy, happy, convenient, and inspiring shopping experience. The unique
combination of H&M's digital competency and its physical store has brought H&M to make a
quantum leap to provide its customers with a unique, memorable, seamless, fantastic
shopping experience (H&M Annual report, 2017).
A recent report of e-commerce sales published by Statista, "Global retail e-commerce sales
2014-2024" (Chevalier, 2021), reveals the overwhelming development of e-commerce
worldwide. Global e-commerce growth started in 2014, while digitalization has intensely
introduced to the retail market, where it records a total sale of $1.34 trillion U.S. dollars
worldwide. In just three years later, in 2017, the sales have leaped to $2.38 trillion U.S. dollars.
In 2020, the e-commerce sales records worldwide reached $4.21 trillion, an increase of 170%.
With the impact of the pandemic Covid-19, experts expect online e-commerce to boost up to
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nearly 5 trillion U.S. dollars in 2021. In Malaysia, the e-commerce market is worth the U.S. $
4.3 billion in 2020 and expects to achieve the U.S. $ 8.1 billion by the year 2024 (Aprameya,
2020). Another research conducted by GlobalData (2020) has shown that Malaysia's e-
commerce market is registered a growth of 24.7% compared to 2019. The increase is mainly
attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic that many consumers' purchasing behavior has switched
from offline to online, which has accelerated the growth of e-commerce in Malaysia. The
study has predicted that the e-commerce market to achieve MYR 51.6 billion by 2024. A study
conducted by Morgan (2020) discloses the strength of Malaysia's e-commerce, where
Malaysia has a population of nearly 31.6 million, GDP recorded at $314.7 billion, with an e-
commerce value of almost $4 billion.
Internet penetration at 80.1%, and smartphone penetration at 63.9%, which are the highest
among Southeast Asia countries, have tremendously contributed to the development of e-
commerce in the country. The government has further introduced National E-Commerce
Strategic Roadmap (The Malaysia Reserve, 2017) to outline and promote the e-commerce
industry to achieve RM170 billion by 2020, growing at 20.8%. Nevertheless, only a few major
retailers in Malaysia have embraced omnichannel retailing and integrated their online
businesses with physical stores to leverage its strength to increase sales by increasing
customer satisfaction. This paper highlights the critical factors for the successful
incorporation of an omnichannel strategy. Therefore, this study is significant in discussing the
factors affecting omnichannel retailing in Malaysia from customers' perception of increasing
satisfaction from convenience, enjoyment, comfort, and trust.
Literature Review
Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction measures how a company's product or service meets or surpasses
customers' needs and expectations. According to Widagdo and Roz (2020), customer
satisfaction is measured by the customers' pleasantness or dreadfulness experience after
purchasing a product and/or service. Successful synchronizing and integrating the physical
store and online channels play an important role in the omnichannel strategy to ensure and
increase customer satisfaction and loyalty to the brand (Kumar and Reinartz, 2016).
Personalized services, offerings, and advertisements are key factors that improve customer
service experience and customer satisfaction (Tyrvainen et al., 2020), which then creates
positive word-of-mouth and increases customer return and purchase intention. Cook (2014)
suggests retailers embrace omnichannel retailing to increase customer satisfaction and
merge their online and offline environment to give customers a unified, seamless, and
pleasant shopping experience (Briel, 2018) at the physical store or online. Hedonic motivation
and experience directly create positive value to increase customer satisfaction (Widagdo and
Roz, 2020; Tyvainen et al., 2020). Retailers are duty-bound to nurture and cultivate an online
relationship with the customers. Such relationships facilitated by new technologies, social
media, and big data are critical to managing and influencing customers in providing a personal
experience for increasing customer satisfaction (Steinhoff et al., 2018).
Past researchers have discussed widely the factors that affect customer satisfaction in
omnichannel retailing, namely convenient, enjoyable, comfortable feeling and level of trust
during the shopping journey and experience (Chopra, 2015; Klie, 2014; Sengupta, 2014;
Sopadjieva et al., 2017). Many new technologies, especially smartphones and mobile apps,
have instantly facilitated customers' searching process about products or services.
Simultaneously, customers may receive online offers and e-voucher to increase their
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purchase intention (Juaneda-Ayensa et al., 2016). All channels are merged into a single
platform for customers to complete their transactions with simply few fingers clicks.
Omnichannel customers who fully engage with digital and social media feel more convenient
and enjoyable to interact with retailers instantly (Zhang et al., 2018) through social media
channels (Pantono and Viassone, 2015). Notably, retailers with physical stores and online
channels better serve their customers (Grewal et al., 2017). However, many customers still
prefer to interact with the sales representatives at the physical store (Margetis et al., 2019).
In this context, retailers need to improve and enhance their customers' service quality to
serve better omnichannel customers who are more prepared and knowledgeable about the
products (Azhari, 2015; Sengupta, 2014).
Omnichannel Retailing
During the past decade, many researchers have claimed that omnichannel retailing is one of
the successful recipes in increasing customer satisfaction and retailers' profitability (Grewal
et al. 2017; Hubner et al. 2015; Sopadjieva et al. 2017). "Omni" was abstracted from a Latin
prefix that means all and every (Briel, 2018). Omnichannel retailing prioritizes customer
experience by combining different channels, merging online and offline, brick-and-mortar and
mobile devices (Verhoef et al., 2015) into a single platform to enrich customers' shopping
experience. Hubner et al (2015) discover that customers have more opportunities to purchase
using omnichannel retailing, breaking down the barrier of the online and offline environment
to offer the customer a seamless shopping experience. Customers demand flexibility in
product or service searching (Sengupta, 2014) and freedom to use different channels (Lazaris
and Vrechopoulos, 2014; Chopra, 2015) to compare the quality and price, place their order
online, and choose delivery options. All those activities are offered in omnichannel for
customers' convenience.
Zhang et al (2018) reveal that with the fast and rapid development of e-commerce, many
world-beating retailers are digitally using all sorts of channels to reach out to customers and
satisfy customers' expectations. The process involves simplifying and integrating all the
channels in physical stores, in-store catalogs, internet kiosks, interactive tablets, and call
centers to provide customers with a convenient, enjoyable, and comfortable shopping
experience. Grewal et al (2017) assert that customers have all sorts of information about the
products and services. As such, retailers need to provide valuable information to the
customers to help them decide. Omnichannel customers expect the sales representatives at
the physical store to be more knowledgeable (Sengupta, 2014) to help them make purchasing
decisions. Chopra (2015) asserts that the partnership of brick-and-mortar stores and online
retailers results in a win-win business model. The convenience and flexibility of the
omnichannel enhance customer shopping experience that would increase customer
satisfaction.
Factors Affecting Customer Satisfaction in Omni Channel Retailing
Convenience
Convenience is defined as a favorable, comfortable, and easy way to use a product or service
to suit customers' needs or expectations with the least difficulty (Cook, 2014; Grewal et al.,
2017; Sopadjleva, 2017; Zhang, 2018). Omnichannel customers expect retailers to provide
them with the information they are looking for about the products in a very convenient
method anytime and anywhere (Cook, 2014) and further offer them quality products and/or
services. Innovation of new digital technology and devices (Grewel et al., 2017) such as mobile
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apps and smartphones has changed the business model that benefits retailers and customers.
Retailers can reach and respond to their customers instantly and engage with them at a
meager cost and more efficient way than ever before. A new form of retail business is to
strengthen the application of omnichannel technologies inside the physical store (Margetis et
al., 2019) with a digital and online transaction using interactive kiosks, tablets, and interactive
walls to complete their purchase (Azhari, 2015).
Grewal et al (2017) also reveal that many retailers integrate new technologies to facilitate
customers' decision-making process in which conveniences and personalization increase the
purchase intention (Huang et al., 2019) and loyalty. Furthermore, channel integration is
important (Gao and Su, 2017) to positively influence customers' positive word-of-mouth (Lee
et al., 2018). However, retailers are required to upgrade their system to reflect on their
business scale and strategy in meeting customers' expectations on different products
(Sengupta, 2014). Process consistency positively affects customers' commitment and
engagement with a retailer to purchase online or offline (Huang et al., 2019). Consumer
interaction with social media is a trend for retailers to grasp the golden opportunity to stay
connected and interact instantly with consumers. Social media have provided platforms for
people to connect and network with other people worldwide, gather information (Grewel et
al., 2017), share their views, and review feedback from others easily.
Enjoyable
Retailers provide an enjoyable shopping experience to their customers with fun, amusing,
entertaining, and pleasing elements. A pleasant experience in customers' shopping journeys
is an important characteristic that leads to customer satisfaction (Herhausena et al., 2015;
Verhoef et al., 2015). Alexander and Cano (2019) emphasize the importance of pre-designing
the retail environment to enhance the customers' shopping experience. Such design should
include the environment as a fun place for the customers to connect with others and provide
cultural, community, and educational events. Such an environment creates a place full of fun
and excitement, exciting activities, and events for customers involvement. Retailers are
suggested to embrace omnichannel retailing into their strategic planning to provide a
pleasurable shopping experience (Sopadjieva et al., 2017) in their physical stores with various
digital channels. Such a strategy may increase customers' satisfaction and differentiate from
their competitors and leverage their physical store as an asset to rival those online-only
retailers, such as Amazon, Lazada, and Taobao. Shi et al (2019) reveal that channels
integration, consistency, and connectivity have positively influenced customers perceived
pleasant compatibility.
On the other hand, Verhoef et al (2015) assert that it is important for retailers to integrate all
channels into one channel to provide a pleasant, easy, and smooth shopping experience for
their customers. Retailers need to coordinate different channels and touchpoints used by
both customers and retailers and be consistent, interchangeable, and simultaneous at any
time to serve the customers (Tyrvainen et al., 2020). Cook (2014) reveals that customers
expect and demand retailers to provide a pleasant environment to undertake product search
and purchase at the time and place that suits them.
Comfortable
Generally, customers seek a more relaxed, easy, and calm mind when shopping at the stores.
Compared to the past generation, customers have access to many technologies during the
shopping period (Cook, 2014). Technology enables them to buy products from their comfort
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place and leisure time (Azhari, 2015) using handheld devices. Xu et al. (2019) stated that when
customers are familiar and feel easy with one channel, their perceived risks are relatively low,
resulting in high loyalty and preferences for using the same channel. However, many
customers still prefer to interact with the sales representative (Azhari and Benett, 2015;
Grewel et al., 2017) at the counter, making them feel easy and secure. Thus, retailers need to
enhance and improve the service quality, competency, and knowledge of the staff at the
physical store to serve the customers better and make them feel contented. Such happy
customers increase customer satisfaction and intention to purchase decisions (Sengupta,
2014).
Trust
Trust is a strong belief and confidence of customers towards someone and something. In this
context, it is the customer's confidence in the retailers and products they provide. Technology
innovation in omnichannel retailing provides retailers with a platform to connect with their
customers and increase customers’ confidence (Grewel et al., 2017). Xu et al (2019) claim that
channel transparency and uniformity among the channels provided affect customers and
reduce their perceived risk. Xu et al (2019) also discovered that when the hassle and cost for
returning a product to the retailer are high and expensive, a customers’ loyalty drops.
According to Cook (2014), customers tend to purchase products online which do not need
much concern regarding the products' texture, apparent and tactile aesthetic feel. However,
it is more challenging for retailers when it comes to the products that customers are apt to
have a more physical approach when they intend to buy. Studies on customers behavior
(Sengupta, 2014; Sopadjleva et al., 2017) have disclosed that customers can easily search and
survey the product online or at a retail store before they decide to buy. Therefore, the
customers feel more confident to make a purchase online with the retailers whom they trust.
Customers who felt empowered in decision-making towards purchasing the product also
further escalated their perceived trust and satisfaction (Zhang et al., 2018) and increased their
purchasing intention with the same retailers. The retailer who fulfills and delivers what
customers order is deemed important and plays an essential role in omnichannel retailing to
upsurge customers' confidence and satisfaction with the retailer (Wollenburg et al., 2018).
Conceptual Framework
Many factors affected customers' satisfaction with omnichannel retailing. Two theories
underpin the study's conceptual framework (Figure 1). First, Stimulus-Organism-Response (S-
O-R) Motivational Psychology theory (Woodworth, 1918) states that the stimulus agent
causes and provokes different effects and responses from an individual towards the stimulus.
Second, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Theory (Maslow, 1943) introduces the five-tier model
of human needs presented in a pyramid shape. At the bottom are physiological needs, safety
needs, love/belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. The Maslow theory
claims the needs at the lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before a person can
attend to the needs on the higher level. Maslow stated that humans are motivated to pursue
needs, and some needs take precedence over others. Therefore, to increase customer
satisfaction, retailers are urged and required to discuss, deliberate, examine, and justify the
factors to promote customer response. Customers' needs and expectations follow a
hierarchal sequence to be fulfilled from the bottom of the physiological needs to the top self-
actualization during their shopping experience. In this study, the needs of the customer
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include convenience, enjoyable, comfortable and trust that are eventually affected
customers' satisfaction in omnichannel retailing, exhibited as follows: -
(Source: Chopra 2015; Cook 2017; Grewal 2017; Jamila 2015; Sengupta 2014; Sopadjleva
2017; Zhang 2018)
Figure 1: Factors affecting customer satisfaction in Omni Channel Retailing
Conclusion and Future Research
Past research has discussed and focused on fulfilling customers' expectations and needs to
increase customer satisfaction. However, the focus of the study is on increasing customers
satisfaction using omnichannel retailing. Ultimately, the study summed up the success factors
for retailers to improve customer satisfaction in omnichannel retailing.
The study is important to managerial practices to understand the critical factors that increase
customers' satisfaction in omnichannel retailing. The study asserts that four aspects, namely
convenient, enjoyable, comfortable, and trust, play important roles in improving customer
satisfaction. The study synchronizes and synergizes the importance of combining customer
experience with digital transformation in the retail world to fortify and consolidate the
company's core competency. By embracing an omnichannel retailing strategy, retailers can
provide goods and services that surpass customers' expectations. It has integrated the four
success factors into its business strategy to improve customers’ satisfaction. The result is to
provide customers with a straightforward, simple, seamless, no friction and difficulty and a
happy, enjoyable, relaxed, and safe shopping experience that has ultimately created a win-
win-win benefits for everyone that develops and enhances the ecosystem for the business.
First, customers have saved more time and effort on shopping but can get more value and
quality products and services they want to purchase through omnichannel retailing. For
instance, customers appreciate real-time promotion information and e-voucher from the
retailer to enjoy the discount and benefit. Furthermore, with instant chat/call messages,
customers can receive instant feedback from the product retailers with easy access to the
services center. The secured online e-banking and e-wallet service ensure the online payment
process is safe. Second, from retailers’ perspectives, they can gain more return customers
with high loyalty of the brand and stickiness to the retailers. These loyal customers become
valuable assets for the brand. They will introduce and recommend more customers to the
retailers thru good word-of-mouth and positive reviews on social media where the impacts
are powerful and influential in the digital world. Moreover, with the big data collected from
loyal customers of their shopping behavior and preferences through omnichannel, retailers
can provide personalized shopping experiences and recommendations to each customer to
increase their satisfaction. And last, both customers and retailers can win the last battle in
the retail world ecosystem, which they support the growth of each other in gaining
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sustainability. Through rapport, mutual trust between both parties builds a long-term
harmonious relationship that nurtures and nourishes business development in the future.
Last, the study is significant as it identifies the factors that affect customers' satisfaction in
omnichannel retailing in Malaysia. Retailers could apply the factors based on customers’
perspectives and expectations to increase customers' satisfaction.
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