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Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management
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Article citation: Neil Towers, (2011) "Editorial", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 39 Iss: 5, pp. -
For this edition there is a strong retailing theme that addresses a number of important issues. These include the introduction of ubiquitous computing, rural consumers’ inshopping behaviours, sales employee clothing style influence on consumers’ perceptions of store image and price knowledge measurements from the perspective of consumer neuroscience.
The first contribution by Roger Bennett and Sharmila Savani examines the state of readiness of large UK-based retailing companies for the introduction of ubiquitous computing (U-computing) retailing applications. The firm’s level of preparedness, managerial attitudes towards and support for U-computing applications, strategic fit, and pre-existing IT capacities were investigated. A third of the respondents reported the existence of a “good fit” between U-computing retail applications and their companies’ products, activities and core competencies. However, only 20 per cent of the sample appeared to be well-prepared for the introduction of U-computing. There was little evidence of the sample enterprises adopting strategic approaches to implementation. The outcomes suggest a widespread “wait and see” approach towards U-computing among the sample businesses and a distinct lack of strategic thinking regarding implementation.
The next paper by Katy Mullis and Minjeong Kim investigates factors influencing rural consumers’ inshopping behaviours and to examine rural retailers’ perceptions of the current rural retailing environment. This study was comprised of two phases. In Phase 1, consumer surveys were conducted in three rural US communities. In Phase 2, in-depth interviews with retailers selected from the same communities were conducted. The findings of the retailer interviews provided useful insights as to the challenges rural retailers are currently facing suggesting that there is a relationship between community attachment and inshopping, but only when it is mediated by local retailer loyalty. The findings also indicated that to some extent, rural retailers accept the reality of outshopping where consumers travel outside of the local community to purchase goods and services. The findings have implications for both retailers and community leaders in rural places who wish to improve their understanding of the challenges and opportunities rural retailers face and subsequently develop strategies to promote inshopping behaviours.
The purpose of the third paper by Ruoh-Nan Yan, Jennifer Yurchisin and Kittichai Watchravesringkan was twofold. First, this study aimed to understand whether and how sales employee clothing style would influence consumers’ perceptions of store image through their expectations of service quality. Second, their study hoped to uncover how fashion orientation would influence the aforementioned relationship. A 3 (formality of employee clothing: formal vs moderate vs casual)×2 (level of fashion orientation: low vs high) between-subject experiment design was conducted. Data were collected from 105 university students in a laboratory setting. The results indicated that formality of employee clothing (i.e. formal business, moderate or casual attire) served as a cue in the retail environment for consumers to make inferences about the service quality expected to be provided by the sales employee. Furthermore, formality of employee clothing both directly and indirectly influenced consumers’ perceptions of store image. The study suggested that retailers should pay attention to the design of their salespeople’s clothing because different clothing styles draw forth different evaluations from customers about the service quality provided in retail stores.
The final contribution by Peter Kenning, Vivian Hartleb and Helmut Schneider examines price knowledge measurements from the perspective of consumer neuroscience. It investigates the neural basis of price memory and addresses the ability of price recall. The study revealed that there is a need to analyse price knowledge and price recall in more differentiated way than has previously been the case in marketing research. It appears that price recall declines with age while price recognition does not. Products with the significant lowest price knowledge were store brands and the addition of a financial incentive does not lead to an improvement of the results in price recognition tasks.