This research studies what full channel integration means for customers, how channels should be combined so that this integration is perceived by customers and whether a retailer under study can act on the same channel attributes regardless of the type of customer.
The research design uses an online survey of a full sample of 1,015 multichannel buyers, extracted from the behavioral databases of a French specialized retailer. This full sample is segmented into four sub-samples. The data are treated with backward multiple linear regressions.
Based on research in marketing and psychology, this study conceptually demonstrates that integrated interactions perceived by consumers are the outcome of a judgment of congruence that seek to build relationships between them in order to combine them better. Testing three hypotheses, the empirical study shows that channel integration is a psychological process: cumulative (individuals incorporate the information provided by the different channels rather than comparing them), selective (customers never take into account all the attributes of the channels) and subjective (the channel image attributes taken into account differ in number and quality from one type of customer to another).
Contrary to what the literature assumes, without ever demonstrating it, full integration does not imply that the retailer in question homogenizes or even matches up all the attributes of its channels. The retailer is thus able to act on attributes that promote this integration, while being relatively free to cultivate the incongruence of other attributes more likely to smoothly guide customers to a particular channel – in other words, a path midway between cross-channel and omnichannel.
Bèzes, C. (2021), "At the source of integrated interactions across channels", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 49 No. 7, pp. 899-918. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRDM-02-2021-0071
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited