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Article
Publication date: 3 January 2017

Usha Ramanathan, Nachiappan Subramanian and Guy Parrott

The technology evolution compels retail networks to introduce unique business models to retain customers and to gain a competitive advantage. Customer reviews available…

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20866

Abstract

Purpose

The technology evolution compels retail networks to introduce unique business models to retain customers and to gain a competitive advantage. Customer reviews available through social media need to be taken into account by retail networks to design a model with unique service operations and marketing approaches that will improve loyalty by adding value to customers. Furthermore, the relationship between customer satisfaction and customer spending behaviour is very weak and needs further investigation. Hence the purpose of this paper is to understand how retail network leverage the potential of social media reviews along with unique service operations to satisfy customers. The study analyses the nexus of: a brand, promotional offers, service operations; and their interaction through social media reviews on customer satisfaction levels.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors develop a conceptual model for the social media era. The authors combine the idea of loyalty- and value-based models of Chatterjee (2013). The authors employed a survey questionnaire method to elicit opinions of retail customer satisfaction based on social media reviews, service operations and marketing efforts. The authors derive measures of the model from existing literature and expert opinion.

Findings

Social media reviews dramatically impact upon customer satisfaction. Similarly the empirical analysis identifies the significant and positive role played by service operations in customer satisfaction levels. Interestingly the authors did not find unequivocal support for brand satisfaction impacting on customer satisfaction. However, when promotions interact well with service operations, the level of customer satisfaction is significantly affected. Similarly the authors did not observe a positive outcome when there is an interaction between promotion and social media reviews. After reading the reviews, some potential buyers make a visit to store before making final decisions and surprisingly, promotional effects do not change their mind set.

Practical implications

Research findings confirm the importance of social media reviews, marketing and interaction between promotion and service operations enabling retail networks to build loyalty and value-based models. Based on customer behaviour, the study suggests a need to consider operational efficiencies when promoting sales; through careful planning, customer satisfaction and profitability levels can be increased. This sends a strong message to the retail network to defend their position within a very competitive business market.

Originality/value

The empirical evidence based on customer experience would be helpful for companies in integrating their operations and marketing efforts enabling them to convert different segment of customers such as “free riders (higher satisfaction and low profitability)” and “vulnerable customers (low satisfaction and higher profitability)” into “star customers (higher satisfaction and high profitability)”. Through a considered approach: combining social media reviews, marketing and operations, businesses will be better-placed to survive in the ultra-competitive social media-influenced era.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 37 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 27 August 2019

Nhlanhla Sibanda and Usha Ramanathan

This research is elucidating quality control theories to reduce variation in chocolate manufacturing process in the UK food company that will help maintain the processes…

Abstract

Purpose

This research is elucidating quality control theories to reduce variation in chocolate manufacturing process in the UK food company that will help maintain the processes stable and predictable. The purpose of this paper is to reduce defects of the output; to identify the root causes of variation; to establish and implement solutions to this variation problem; and to establish a control system to monitor and report any variation in the process.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use experimental case study of a chocolate company to achieve the objective. In this paper, the authors predominantly use established theory define–measure–analyse–improve–control, customised to the case of the chocolate factory to reduce variations in production processes.

Findings

The results confirm that customised-traditional theoretical quality models will support manufacturing companies to maintain customer satisfaction while enhancing quality and reliability.

Practical implications

Implementation of customised approach reduced the rate of defect from 8 to 3.7 per cent. The implications of reduced variation are improved product quality; reprocessing elimination; and a more stable process that support sustainability and reliability in producing chocolates to meet customer needs.

Social implications

The authors used an experimental-based case study approach to test with one company. Testing in multiple case companies may help to generalise results.

Originality/value

The research study experimentally tested quality approach with a real case company and hence the findings of this study can be applied to other cases working in similar settings.

Details

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, vol. 37 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-671X

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2021

Usha Ramanathan, Olu Aluko and Ramakrishnan Ramanathan

At its peak, the COVID-19 pandemic has created disruption to food supply chains in the UK and for the entire world. Although societal changes created some resilience…

Abstract

Purpose

At its peak, the COVID-19 pandemic has created disruption to food supply chains in the UK and for the entire world. Although societal changes created some resilience within the supply chains, high volatility in demand creates supply, logistics and distribution issues. This is reflected in the economic instability of businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In this paper, the authors explore factors behind this initial disruption in the supply chains and offer suggestions to businesses based on the established practices and theories.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use mixed methods research. First, the authors conducted an exploratory study by collecting data from published online sources. Then, the authors analysed possible scenarios from the available information using regression. The authors then conducted two interviews with UK retail sector representatives. These scenarios have been compared and contrasted to provide decision-making points to businesses and supply chain players to tackle current and any future potential disruptions.

Findings

The findings from the current exploratory study inform the volatility of supply chains. The authors suggested some possible responses from businesses, during and after the pandemic.

Originality/value

The regression model provides a decision-making approach to help supply chain businesses during the pandemic outbreak. Once a complete data set of COVID-19 is available, the authors can create a resilience model that can help businesses and supply chains.

Details

Benchmarking: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-5771

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Article
Publication date: 4 August 2021

Balakrishnan A.S. and Usha Ramanathan

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of digital supply chain (DSC) technologies in automotive supply chain resilience (SCR) practices to improve the supply…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of digital supply chain (DSC) technologies in automotive supply chain resilience (SCR) practices to improve the supply chain performance (SC-Perf.) objectives of companies operating in the automotive industry. This study also compares the results of the associated SC-Perf objectives before and after the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak lockdown situation.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors undertook in-depth empirical research using a questionnaire survey to explore the performance of automotive supply chains. The sample for this study consisted of practitioners from supply chain entities such as automotive original equipment manufacturers, Tier-1 component manufacturers and lead logistics providers in Asia-Pacific (AP) emerging markets. Research questions, framework and hypotheses were developed using the literature review.

Findings

The research outcome from analysis of the data the authors collected from an emerging market context, specifically the automotive sector, emphasizes the role of DSC technologies and encourages the firm’s SCR practices which, in turn, supports the SC-Perf objectives. The DSC technologies competency moderates the SCR and SC-Perf objectives relation, and the moderation effect is higher for post-COVID-19 pandemic outbreak lockdown situation than at prior state.

Research limitations/implications

The scope of the study is restricted to the automotive firms in the AP region. The data were collected from a representative sample of the population through a questionnaire survey. The small size of the sample incurs a certain level of subjectivity.

Practical implications

This research provides practical insights for practitioners and academicians on DSC technologies’ influence in SCR practices to improve the firm’s SC-Perf. This research shares the literature insights on use of DSC technologies across the sector to allow the automotive firm to reassess the existing operational practices.

Originality/value

The paper adds insights on introducing or implementing DSC technologies across AP automotive firms to increase the operations’ performance by improving SCR practices and sustainability.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. 26 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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Article
Publication date: 6 August 2018

Usha Ramanathan, Sandar Win and Andreas Wien

The purpose of this paper is to determine the nature of the relationship between service quality and desired customer behaviours in the leasing market using an appropriate…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to determine the nature of the relationship between service quality and desired customer behaviours in the leasing market using an appropriate service quality measurement model. The authors take a step further by recognising the possible differences in influence of service quality in private and corporate customers, and those business dealings with low, medium and high lease values.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use deduction method to test the SERVQUAL in the German leasing market and the relationship between customer satisfaction and desired behavioural outcomes. The developed questionnaire is based on the 22-item scale of the SERVQUAL approach. Samples are selected based on convenience sampling.

Findings

The authors found differences in the levels of influence by SERVQUAL dimensions on corporate and private customers as well as among those customers with different leasing contract values. From the regression analyses, it is clear that “assurance” from the leasing company is the most common SERVQUAL dimension that has significant impact on overall service quality perceptions and obtaining customers satisfaction and loyalty (behavioural outcomes).

Originality/value

The authors recognised that all financial services are not created equally to meet customer demands. Hence, the customer expectations of service quality from these services will be different. The authors contributed to the marketing literature by studying customer perceptions of service quality by specifying financing aspects of financial services, i.e. leasing. The authors further contributed to the literature of SERVQUAL model in financial services by dividing customers into two different types of customers and those with diverse leasing contract values. The authors found that priorities given on service quality dimensions by them are different. These concepts were never considered in the literature. This also implies that future studies on financial services marketing need to recognise such differences in the research.

Details

Benchmarking: An International Journal, vol. 25 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-5771

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Article
Publication date: 24 June 2020

Emmanuel Ferguson Aikins and Usha Ramanathan

The purpose of this paper is to empirically identify key factors of UK food supply chains (SCs) that significantly contribute to CO2 emissions (CO2e) taking into account…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to empirically identify key factors of UK food supply chains (SCs) that significantly contribute to CO2 emissions (CO2e) taking into account the life cycle assessment (LCA). The UK food supply chain includes imports from other countries.

Design/methodology/approach

This research develops a conceptual framework from extant literature. Secondary data obtained from ONS and FAOSTAT covering from 1990 to 2014 are analysed using Multilinear Regression (MLR) and Stochastic Frontier Analysis (SFA) to identify the factors relating to CO2 emissions significance, and the efficient contributions that are being made to their reduction in the UK food supply chains.

Findings

The study results suggest that Transportation and Sales/Distribution are the two key factors of CO2 emissions in UK food supply chains. This is confirmed by two multivariate methods, MLR and SFA. MLR results show that transportation increases UK CO2 emissions by 10 tonnes of CO2 emissions from one tonne of fruits and vegetables imports from overseas to the UK Sales and Distribution reduces the UK CO2 emissions by 1.3 tonnes of CO2 emissions due to improved, technological operation activities in the UK. In addition, the SFA results confirm that the key factors are sufficient to predict an increase or decrease in CO2 emissions in the UK food supply chains.

Research limitations/implications

This study has focused on the LCA of the UK food supply chain from limited data. Future studies should consider Sustainability Impact Assessment of the UK food supply chain, identifying the social, economic, regulatory and environmental impacts of the food supply chain using a re-defined LCA (all-inclusive assessment) tool.

Practical implications

This research suggests that food supply chain professionals should improve efficiency, e.g. the use of solar energy and biogas, and also integrate low-carbon policies and practices in food supply chain operations. Furthermore, governments should encourage policies such as mobility management programmes, urban redevelopment and privatisation to enhance better transportation systems and infrastructure to continuously reduce CO2e from the food trade.

Originality/value

Although logistics play a major role in CO2 emissions, all logistics CO2 emissions for other countries are not included in the ONS data. This research reveals some important insights into the UK food supply chains. Logistics and other food supply chain processes of importing countries significantly contribute to CO2 emissions which are yet to be considered in the UK food SCs.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 40 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 2 August 2013

Usha Ramanathan and Ramakrishnan Ramanathan

In this paper, the authors aim to examine the impact of resource capabilities on customer loyalty of UK hotels. Understanding this impact will help organisations to…

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2536

Abstract

Purpose

In this paper, the authors aim to examine the impact of resource capabilities on customer loyalty of UK hotels. Understanding this impact will help organisations to improve customer satisfaction in order to obtain improved customer loyalty.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use a relatively innovative data source, namely online ratings. They measure resource capabilities of a firm using customer ratings in terms of various operational criteria. Similarly, customer loyalty is measured using guests ' ratings on their intention to use the same service (stay again in the same hotel) and their intention to recommend the service to friends. The authors employ structural equation modelling to test research hypotheses.

Findings

The authors ' results indicate that there is a significant positive influence of resource capabilities on customer loyalty. They further find that the significant influence of resource capabilities on customer loyalty does not differ across hotels with various star ratings.

Research limitations/implications

The authors looked at the online guest ratings available on a particular website, but it is only one of the many websites offering online hotel reservations, and not all customers that made hotel reservations using this e-booking facility would be inclined to leave feedback after their stay in the hotel. This limitation can be partially overcome by pooling similar data from a number of online hotel booking sites.

Practical implications

The most important managerial implication is that good resource capabilities of firms translate well into customer loyalty. Thus, managers should ensure good performance in terms of various hotel attributes – cleanliness, quality of room, facilities, and customer service – and also ensure that customers perceive good value for their money while staying in the hotel.

Originality/value

The authors applied structural modelling framework to verify the resource capability – performance link in the context of hotels. They used a relatively novel data source – online guest ratings of hotels – to understand the relationships between resource capabilities and customer loyalty.

Details

Journal of Services Marketing, vol. 27 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0887-6045

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Article
Publication date: 18 May 2012

Usha Ramanathan

In general, demand for functional products is dependent on a range of promotions offered in various retail outlets. To improve promotional sales many retailers collaborate…

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4936

Abstract

Purpose

In general, demand for functional products is dependent on a range of promotions offered in various retail outlets. To improve promotional sales many retailers collaborate with manufacturers for planning, forecasting and replenishment. The purpose of this paper is to hypothesize that collaborative forecasting will improve the forecast accuracy if all the partners can relate their demand forecast with underlying demand factors.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper, the author uses a case study approach to study various demand factors of soft drink products of the UK based company which offers frequent promotions in retail outlets. The paper represents the case study findings in a conceptual framework called Reference Demand Model (RDM). Further, the case study findings are validated empirically by means of multiple linear regression analysis using actual sales data of the case company.

Findings

Surprisingly, some of the demand factors specified as very important by the case company are not found to be highly significant for actual sales. The paper uses the identified demand factors to suggest levels of collaboration.

Practical implications

Understanding the importance of product specific demand factors through regression models and incorporating the same in managerial decision making will aid managers to identify the necessary information to make accurate demand forecasts.

Originality/value

This approach unveils the presence of three levels of collaboration namely preparatory, progressive and futuristic levels among supply chain partners based on the information exchange. The proposed method will aid decision making on information sharing and collaborative planning among manufacturer and retailers for future promotional sales.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 32 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 7 March 2016

Ramakrishnan Ramanathan, Yun Di and Usha Ramanathan

In service sector, measuring quality of services is generally acknowledged to be difficult as it involves many psychological features. Hence, identifying the determinants…

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3603

Abstract

Purpose

In service sector, measuring quality of services is generally acknowledged to be difficult as it involves many psychological features. Hence, identifying the determinants of service quality and linkages with customer satisfaction is a challenging research topic. In this study, the authors take up a research study to address this challenge. The purpose of this paper is to examine the importance of factors influencing customer satisfaction in the context of a Chinese buffet restaurant in the UK.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use a questionnaire based on the SERVQUAL instrument for the purpose. Using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, the authors have found that service quality could be grouped into four main factors – service, food, ambience and price.

Findings

Using multiple-regression analysis, the authors have found that food is the most significant factor influencing customer satisfaction, followed by price, ambience and service, respectively. Using a multi-group analysis, the authors have found interesting moderating roles of age, gender and annual income on the influence of the four factors on satisfaction: ambience is considered significant by male customers while it is not significant for female customers; the influence of price on satisfaction is much higher for female customers than for male customers; food and service factors are important for younger customers while price is important for older customers; price is important for customers with lower levels of income but not important for high-income customers.

Practical implications

These results are useful to restaurant managers in allocating appropriate levels of resources to different factors based on their contributions to customer satisfaction in order to maximize customer satisfaction efficiently and effectively.

Originality/value

Analysis and findings of this research are based on the customers’ survey data of a Chinese buffet restaurant in the UK. The authors have found an interesting ranking of the importance of service factors: food followed by price, ambience and service. The results on the moderating role of customer characteristics provide newer insights in the literature on service quality. The research findings can help the hotel management to improve their service levels to attain maximum customer satisfaction.

Details

Benchmarking: An International Journal, vol. 23 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-5771

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Article
Publication date: 8 February 2011

Usha Ramanathan and Ramakrishnan Ramanathan

This paper seeks to explore the performance of UK hotels, in terms of various service attributes, and whether it influences customers' intention to stay again.

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15520

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to explore the performance of UK hotels, in terms of various service attributes, and whether it influences customers' intention to stay again.

Design/methodology/approach

Data are used from online customer ratings of 664 hotels in the UK for the purpose. The approach is based on an interesting use of statistical regression reported in the literature that attempted to classify different cues in hotels as critical, satisfier, dissatisfier, etc. In this study, six prominent attributes are considered, namely: customer service, cleanliness, room quality, value for money, quality of food, and family friendliness, rated by guests, based on their experiences of staying in hotels.

Findings

The findings reveal that “Value for money” is a critical attribute, while “Customer service”, “Room quality” and “Quality of food” are dissatisfiers. Business guests, and guests of independent hotels, exhibit similar behavior, but for leisure guests, and guests of chain hotels, “Value for money” is a dissatisfier.

Practical implications

“Value for money” is a critical attribute, in that good performance, in terms of this attribute, is critical for positively influencing guests' intention to stay again; however, failures in terms of this attribute cannot be compensated by improving service in terms of other attributes. There are three dissatisfier attributes (“Customer service”, “Room quality”, and “Quality of food”), implying that an inadequate performance in terms of these attributes could significantly adversely impact guests' intention to stay again.

Originality/value

This study would appear to be the first to use the extensive data available on the internet on guest ratings of hotels.

Details

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-6119

Keywords

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