Drivers of Customer E-Retention in Online Fashion Apparel Shopping

Anne-Sofie Sander Larsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Executive summary: Customer retention has been recognized as a key path to the survival of e-tailers. Yet, researchers and practitioners are so focused on customer acquisition, that they ignore customer retention. Trying to be all things to all customers, todays’ e-tailors lack a clear focus on what online shoppers really desire and how they can be turned in to loyal customers. Thus, the purpose of this study is to propose a framework on e-loyalty and its antecedents in the context of online fashion apparel. Guided by the S-O-R model, this study investigates, which shopper motives and e-parameters, that drive online fashion apparel shopping and e-loyalty. Findings show that 8 e-parameters potentially enhance e-loyalty. Moreover, empirical observations of 20 fashion apparel e-tailers indicate, that the industry is currently focused on providing eparameters that serve utilitarian needs. This corresponds with previous research, which states that the majority of online consumers are mainly utilitarian-focused. In contrast to earlier research and current practice, analysis of 3 focus groups indicates that a higher level of hedonic motivation is emerging for online shopping. Findings show, that consumers are still motivated towards efficiency but 3 hedonic shopping motives; fun & entertainment, social shopping and idea shopping also seem to have a key role in fashion apparel shopping. Leveraging tools to satisfy these hedonic needs is seen as a new approach to support e-commerce, which for over a decade has been primarily about maximizing tools fulfilling utilitarian needs. To achieve the maximum gain in customer loyalty, this study recommends that e-tailers continually improve their ability to satisfy these needs through the 4 e-parameters; convenience, contact interactivity, customization and community. Among these parameters; convenience tools, certain contact interactivity tools and customization tools that fulfil the need for efficiency were identified as necessary tools to potentially enhance repeat webshop visits. On the other hand community tools, certain contact interactivity tools and customization tools that satisfy hedonic needs can impact repeat purchases. This implies, that customers can be highly satisfied and loyal only if the utilitarian aspects of the webshops are controlled and met, and the hedonic aspects are offered in addition. To sum up, the proposed framework can help fashion apparel e-tailers understand their customers better, identify which e-tools that should be prioritized, and improve their customer e-loyalty.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages163