ABSTRACT

I conducted empirical analyses of what happens when an offline channel expands to an online channel and whether the pre-existing offline channel’s competitive assets (e.g. brand reputation and level of service satisfaction) can be linked to online channel preference. I found that an offline channel’s brand reputation and level of service satisfaction can have a direct influence on offline channel preference and a second-hand influence on online channel preference. Thus, if the competitiveness of the online channel is strong enough and its customers have a higher preference for the offline channel, they will be committed and loyal to the company. The resultant enhanced competitiveness of the offline channel will present opportunities for both present and future success. The main results are the following. First, the management of the distribution channel service quality is more important than that of the brand reputation. Customers’ experiences of service and subjective evaluations are not important only as the leading factors in the long-term brand reputation management but also as influential factors in channel preference. SoThus, given that the service quality of the pre-existing channel is not the customers’ main concern, a strategy of improving the level of service satisfaction aimed at present customers is more valuable than a wide brand positioning strategy aimed at general and new customers. Second, when an offline channel company establishes an internet shopping mall on an online channel, it is highly likely that the preference and subjective evaluation of the present customers will influence the online channel. This applies not only to the special case of an expansion from an offline intermediary channel to an online one, but also to an online channel acting as an expansion of the business model of a conventional manufacturing or service company: both cases are vertical integrations of marketing channels in an expansion of the distribution channel. My theory applies to a wide range of contexts. Third and finally, any business strategy can grasp the meaning of ‘channel expansion. Fundamentally, it is an expansion of the sales activity channel and marketing activity. However, it is also a way of enhancing marketing and sales competitiveness through an expansion to an online or offline channel. The expansion of an offline company to an online channel could be seen not as improvement but as an innovation of the business process by which two goals are achieved with one technique. The former is expected to increase the sales of the offline company, and the latter is also expected to increase sales while also contributing to cost reduction.

KEYWORD

Brand reputation, service satisfaction, channel preference, offline channel, online channel

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