Constructing online switching barriers: examining the effects of switching costs and alternative attractiveness on e-store loyalty in online pure-play retailers

Abstract

Developing switching barriers to retain customers has become a critical marketing strategy for online retailers. However, research on the role of switching barriers in e-retailing is still limited. Recent trends show that when competitors are just one click away, it is questionable if customer loyalty can be achieved at all in online environments. This leads to the research question on whether switching barriers have any impact on e-loyalty in pure-play retailers. The paper examines the influence of switching barriers on customer retention (i.e., e-store loyalty) and further investigates the moderating effects of switching costs and alternative attractiveness. Data were gathered via a survey of 590 shoppers of online pure-play retailers in the UK. Findings show that customer satisfaction and the two dimensions of switching barriers (perceived switching costs and perceived attractiveness of alternatives) significantly influence customer loyalty. Contrary to findings in earlier studies, it was found that switching costs did not moderate the relationships between satisfaction and loyalty nor between perceived attractiveness of alternatives and loyalty. The paper makes imperative recommendations to develop switching barriers and to foster loyalty along with suggestions for future research.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Population reports were derived from Nielson-Online (2009), Mintel-Oxygen (2007) and British Population Survey (January 2008).

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Correspondence to Bang Nguyen.

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Ghazali, E., Nguyen, B., Mutum, D.S. et al. Constructing online switching barriers: examining the effects of switching costs and alternative attractiveness on e-store loyalty in online pure-play retailers. Electron Markets 26, 157–171 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12525-016-0218-1

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Keywords

  • Switching barriers
  • Switching costs
  • Alternative attractiveness
  • Customer satisfaction
  • E-store loyalty
  • Online pure-play retailers

JEL Classification

  • M3 Marketing
  • Advertising