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Revisiting the role of relationship benefits in online retail

Pavleen Soni (Department of Commerce and Business Management, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 25 October 2019

Issue publication date: 18 August 2020




Given the importance of relationship benefits in creating customer satisfaction, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the moderating role of relationship benefits (special treatment benefits and confidence benefits) on relationship quality and word of mouth (WOM) for online retailers. The conditional mediating role of relationship quality between customer satisfaction and WOM is also examined.


A sample of 700 MBA students from two universities in Punjab (North India) has been used to collect data. Structural equation modelling and PROCESS Macro (Hayes (2017) have been used for data analysis (mod mod mediation).


When customers perceive high confidence benefits, special treatment benefits moderate the mediational role of relationship quality between customer satisfaction and WOM. Specific conditions under which use of confidence benefits and special treatment benefits are successful for online retailers have also been identified.

Practical implications

Tailored use of special treatment benefits with confidence benefits in appropriate combinations will help the online retailers in segmenting the customers and differentiating amongst them according to the customers’ receptivity towards these benefits. Marketers can devise communication strategies, create customer segments and position their services using the results obtained in the study.


The present study is the first of its kind which clarifies as to why the previous literature considered special treatment benefits as less relevant to customers. It also establishes the situations in which these benefits successfully moderate the effect of customer satisfaction in developing relationship quality and eliciting positive WOM in the Indian internet retailing context.



The paper recived funding from the University Grants Commission No. F. 30-25/2016 (SA-II).


Soni, P. (2020), "Revisiting the role of relationship benefits in online retail", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 38 No. 6, pp. 745-759.



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