International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 7 October 2014



Towers, N. (2014), "Editorial", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 42 No. 10. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRDM-05-2014-0062



Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Volume 42, Issue 10.

There is a particularly diverse international retail focus throughout the four submissions to this issue. The topics of the submissions include consideration of the physical demands retail centres place on their patrons, intepreting franchise contracts in a French context, the competitive positioning characteristics of off-price retailers in the USA, and the retail customer experience and its links to satisfaction and loyalty in China.

Due to rising obesity levels, declining fitness levels, an aging population, and shopper lethargy, retail planners must give serious consideration to the physical demands retail centres place on their patrons. The first paper by Reimers and Clulow investigates the importance consumers assign to intra-centre spatial convenience, measure how consumers perceive shopping malls and shopping strips (also referred to as the downtown area, central business district, Main Street or the High Street) in relation to it, and compare them in their provision of it. The study utilizes a household survey of consumers and a retail audit to identify the importance consumers assign to intra-centre spatial convenience and to establish how malls and strips compare in their provision of it. The results indicate that consumers regard intra-centre spatial convenience as important and believe that malls are superior in providing it. The retail audit confirmed the accuracy of these perceptions, with the mall providing greater store compatibility, and a more compact shopping environment.

Network uniformity is crucial in franchising but an excessive number of imposed constraints to maintain this uniformity jeopardize a franchisee’s independence and too much independence given to franchisees jeopardizes franchise network uniformity. The second contribution by Perrigot, Basset, Briand-Meledo and Cliquet is based on a multiple cases approach and addresses the understanding of a franchise contract as a branch manager contract or as an employment contract. The four complementary cases deal with Yves Rocher (cosmetics and body/face care), Bata (shoes), Fiventis (real estate, life insurance and tax-sheltered savings products) and France Acheminement (express transport), all analysed in the French context. The findings suggest that a franchise contract can be reclassified as a branch manager contract if there is economic dependence or as an employment contract if there is a legal subordination relationship. These reclassifications have not only financial consequences, but also an impact in terms of image. The research is of specific interest to franchisors, franchise experts and lawyers in terms of minimizing the possible risks of facing such types of reclassification of franchise contracts. It can also inform franchisees that may be running their businesses under such conditions.

The third paper by Hess Jr and Ring investigates the unique competitive positioning characteristics of off-price retailers and how they compare to other types of retailers. Off-price and upscale off-price retailers are compared with four major formats of retailers: discount department store/warehouse club retailers, moderate department store retailers, department store retailers, and specialty department store retailers using a representative sample from four primary metropolitan cities in the USA. The findings indicate that the off-price formats were consistently positioned at extreme points along the price/value continuum, signifying the strongest value-orientation among the other retail formats. The results point to an important disadvantage of the off-price format although strong on price/value, they often fall short on fashion and many other store attributes that may be important to luxury-oriented customers. The results demonstrate that the positioning of the off-price retail format is unique from other formats. This paper provides retailers with a more complete understanding of the store attributes that differentiate the off-price retail format from other major retail store formats.

The fourth contribution by Lin and Bennett examines the construct of retail customer experience and its links to satisfaction and loyalty. It also tests whether loyalty programmes perform a moderating effect on those links. A variety of retail attributes are integrated to develop a holistic customer experience construct using formative measures, with four in-built, differentiated replication studies conducted in the supermarket and department store sectors in China. The empirical results confirm the model of customer experience’s impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty but reveal that loyalty programmes perform an insignificant moderating role in enhancing the linkages in the model. Retail managers should focus attention on the design and delivery of great customer experience, without placing great reliance on loyalty programmes. Both cognitive and emotional attributes of retailing services should be considered for managing a holistic customer experience.

Neil Towers

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