Special Issue in Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services.

The Future of Customer Experience in Retailing

Guest Editors: Klaus, P. & Kuppelwieser, V.

Deadline: 31 March 2021

Retailing as we knew it is entering a period of both, transformation, and unprecedented change. New technologies drive digital disruption, omni-channel management, and the customer experience (CX) is commonly seen as the new differentiator and source of gaining a sustainable competitive advantage in the retail environment (Klaus, 2014).

Artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies up and down the demand chain have already altered the retail CX and customer journey. This evolution has now been kicked into an even higher gear, and, in conjunction with the pandemic, the demise of traditional ‘brick-and-mortar’ has been tremendously accelerated. Consumers are growing accustomed of the benefits AI and other technologies deliver, subsequently, enhancing their customer experience. Retailers taking advantage of all the data making available to them by trying to deliver the best possible experiences. However, the use of technology also raised customers expectations significantly, and managers struggle to convert data into usable (and valued) insights to deliver on the desired customer experience expectations (Klaus, 2020).

Ultimately, AI will also have an impact on every aspect of the demand chain, and while the rise of automation in the ‘back office’ is invisible to customers, the impact on employment and society is not (Manthiou et al., 2020). It will become of crucial importance that the retailing industry assist, replace or redeploy their human workers in more value-adding activities. This is easier said than done, given that the more and more consumers are considered ‘convenience addicts’, preferring the online experience over the brick-and-mortar CX (Klaus and Zaichkowsky, 2020). Moreover, more and more consumers value their purchasing interactions with AI, such as Amazon’s Alexa over interaction with ‘unpredictable’ human beings (Klaus and Zaichkowsky, 2020).

Another trend is consumers rising propensity for sustainable consumption and practices. The question is on how this influence the customer experience practices, and the resulting customer experience. Will managers revert towards more sustainable practices to address this rising propensity If so, yes, and how?

Looking even further towards the future and the future retailing consumer we need to contemplate which retail experiences ‘Generation AI,’ born after 2010, will value. This consumer segment is being raised within AI’s influence and perceived benefits. AI has been there to support their needs, ambitions, aims, objectives, and desires. Once this generation will start to spend their own money they will look for a different retail experience that mirrors what they are accustomed to. Rather than having to research product specifications, ratings, or prices, they will expect the best offerings being preselected for them. Retailers need to address this by moving from being prescriptive to being a consultant and deliver tailormade suggestions when and where the customer desires it. This indicates shifting the frontline experience from traditional retail settings towards interaction, as already proposed in the luxury industry (Klaus and Manthiou, 2020).

While omni-channel management, the challenges of new segments, and the use of AI is becoming more and more relevant in the retail field, little research explores if, and how customers use and embrace new channels. Marketing and retailing literature remain mostly silent in prognosing future retailing or considering future developments in their models. Managerial literature does not provide any guidance in addressing this task sufficiently either. Most of the insights and advice consultants and managers are offering on how to manage the retail CX are often anecdotal in nature. In general, they are lacking rigor and the scientific knowledge to explore what constitutes and what drives the retail CX, leaving scholars with plenty of opportunities to contribute to advancing retail customer experience knowledge and management.

The special issue will make a clear and significant contribution to the customer experience (CX) and retailing literature streams. CX is a highly significant, but still developing research (e.g., De Keyser et al., 2020), and our special issue will address and fill the important research gaps mentioned above. We will only consider empirical studies highlighting how the findings will influence managerial practice. In other words, all studies need to focus on, and extensively discuss, how the findings will shape and guide the future of CX management practice in retailing. This can be achieved by either using consumer data linking CX to behavioral outcomes (not behavioral intentions), or data collected from firms and managers. For the former we are only looking for consumer samples, not convenience samples (such as students, etc.). Studies exploring the managerial viewpoint are most welcome. We are in particular interested in empirical studies investigating existing managerial challenges in CX management, such as the connection between CX strategies/programs and firm performance. We also welcome studies investigating the potential ROI of CX initiatives. The submission of collaborative studies conducted with practitioners are highly encouraged.

We welcome only empirical contributions (qualitative or quantitative) grounded in a range of perspectives that offer insights into the central topic of this Special Issue. We are especially interested in contributions demonstrating a strong managerial impact. All submissions need to emphasize the impact of their contribution to the future of the retailing CX and retailing and CX management practices.

– What constitutes the retailing CX?
– What are the challenges retailing CX managers facing?
– What is being considered ‘best’ and ‘next practice’ in CX retailing management?
– The future of retailing CX management.
– Which role in the CX will be dedicated to which channel in the retail setting?
– The role of emotions in the retailing CX.
– The dynamic nature of the retailing CX.
– Exploration of the different motivations to engage in retailing consumption.
– New trends in retailing customer behavior (such as use versus possession).
– The role of sustainability in the retailing CX.
– The contribution and impact of technology (e.g., AI) on the retailing CX.
– Linking retailing CX analytics and performance.
– Which consumers do current retail CX practices attract?
– How should retail customer segmentation work in the future?
– How will different customer segments value CX practices?

Key Dates:
Manuscript submission opens 1 January 2021
Submission deadline 31 March 2021
Final acceptances 15 July 2021
Estimated publication 2021/22

Guest Editors:
Prof. Dr. Phil Klaus, International University of Monaco, Monaco
Prof. Dr. Volker Kuppelwieser, NEOMA Business School, France

Potential contributors can contact the Special Issue Editors to discuss their ideas for a paper prior to submitting a formal proposal. Please direct any questions about the submission process to the guest editors.

More info here.