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Title: Customer perceived switching barriers and their impact on loyalty and habitual repurchase : a study of pure-play online retailers in the UK
Author: Ghazali, E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 2640
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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Retaining customers has become extremely crucial in the online environment due to high competition levels. Although the role of switching barriers has been examined quite extensively in the offline marketing environment, their presence and importance in predicting customer retention are poorly understood in the online retail context. This thesis aims to contribute towards a better understanding of the nature, dimensions and consequences of customer-perceived switching barriers in the context of pure-play online retailing. It also investigates the role of online switching barriers to influence customer retention in this context. Based on the theory of social exchange, a framework depicting the interrelationships among perceived switching barriers, satisfaction, loyalty and habitual repurchase are proposed. Two categories of switching barriers are examined, namely, perceived switching costs and attractiveness of available alternatives. The research framework predicts the main effects, indirect effects and moderating influences of these switching barriers. The data were collected through self-administered questionnaires from over 550 customers of pure-play online retailers serving the United Kingdom market. In general, the strategy for assessing the psychometric properties of the measurements is divided into two parts: measurement model calibration and measurement model validation. These involve Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA), Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Multi-group CFA. All proposed hypotheses are tested using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM). Furthermore, the orthogonalisation approach is utilised to test for moderation effects in the model. Five dimensions of online perceived switching costs are identified: learning costs, search and evaluation costs, uncertainty costs, brand relationship loss costs and artificial costs. With respect to the alternative attractiveness construct, three dimensions are identified: retailer indifference, alternative awareness and alternative preference. The findings confirm the importance of customer-perceived switching barriers in predicting customer retention with respect to pure online retailers. This finding challenges the notion that customer-perceived switching costs are insignificant in influencing online purchase decision making due to the open architecture of the internet market. Most importantly, there are three novel and interesting findings in this study that add to the body of literature: first, the ‘catalyst’ role of online perceived switching costs in precipitating and strengthening the influence of satisfaction on habitual repurchase; second, the ‘neutralising’ role of perceived switching costs in offsetting the influence of attractive alternative on habitual repurchase; and third, the mediating role of loyalty in the relationship between alternative attractiveness and habitual repurchase. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future research are also provided.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Malaya (1962- ) ; Malaysia ; Warwick Business School ; University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HF Commerce