The purpose of this paper is to explore the factors affecting store image and customers’ choice of hypermarkets in Oman and compares two big hypermarkets in Sohar– the prominent industrial city of Oman.
A detailed review of literature was conducted initially to identify the attributes affecting store image and choice of hypermarkets in Oman and a questionnaire was developed later using the key attributes, vetted by a panel of professionals and consumers. Data were collected using convenience sampling from the targeted customers with due care to reduce possible biases. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA), using SPSS, was then performed to arrive at the key factors affecting store image and choice of hypermarkets in Oman. Two most popular and leading hypermarkets of Sohar – Lulu and Al Safeer were selected to study consumers’ preferences for store choice and comparisons. The Mann-Whitney U-test in association with the Wilcoxon W-test was applied, using Minitab, for further comparison of the two hypermarkets.
Retailing industry in Oman is changing. The focus of consumers is shifting from traditional markets to modern retail formats. The presence of hypermarkets has attracted customers away from traditional souqs. Customers are attracted to hypermarkets for various reasons, including the local and socio-cultural ones. The factor analysis produced four components, namely, “purchase experience”, “visit experience”, “augmented experience”, and “repeat-purchase experience” affecting customers’ choice of hypermarkets and store image in Oman. A comparative analysis of two leading hypermarkets revealed that Lulu hypermarket acquired, overall, a better store image over Al Safeer on all the components. Purchase experience and visit experience, in Omani hypermarkets, were forerunners in satisfying customers than the augmented and repeat-purchase experience.
The study contributes to the narrow base of extant literature on consumer preferences of hypermarkets and their choice of related retail formats in the Islamic world. Although the use of EFA has been quite informative in revealing the findings, the limitation mainly arises due to the lack of confirmatory techniques, which were not intended at this stage of research. Whist the study opens room for researchers to contribute further in this regard, it brings forth certain implications for the managers, academics, and professionals working in the retail sector.
Analysis and discussions reveal that hypermarkets, particularly in Oman, need to take into account the factors, as identified in this study, and the differences in context of local conditions and religion. The study emphasizes that managers of retail formats in Oman need to give due importance to consumer experience to secure better store image and consumer patronage.
The study makes a pioneering attempt to analyse consumer preferences for retail stores, especially hypermarkets in Oman. It recognizes that the consumer expectations and business requirements of Oman, in particular, or Gulf countries in general are somehow different than the rest of the world. A heed to the identified factors and underlying variables would help the retail sector in serving consumers better as well as in increasing the store image and consumer patronage.
Belwal, R. and Belwal, S. (2017), "Factors affecting store image and the choice of hypermarkets in Oman", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 45 No. 6, pp. 587-607. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRDM-06-2015-0086
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