ABSTRACT

Purpose - Owing to economic development and rapid globalization, the number of people traveling abroad has increased dramatically in recent years. For instance, according to data from World Tourism Organization, approximately 1,724 million tourists traveled abroad in 2016. This phenomenon has resulted in a change for domestic markets, as they no longer serve only domestic customers but also serve foreign customers as well. Therefore, intercultural service encounters between services providers and customers from diverse cultural backgrounds are becoming more frequent. Especially in the field of retailing, salesperson's customer oriented selling behavior is particularly important for the successful interactions. However, it is hard to find some factors that can improve salesperson's customer oriented selling behavior in intercultural sales encounters. Research design, data, and methodology - A quantitative survey methodology was utilized to collect data on 312 salespeople at duty-free shops located on Jeju Island, Korea. As a tourism-based region, Jeju Island has attracted a large number of foreign tourists since being designated as an international free city in 2002. Owing to this phenomenon, intercultural sales encounters between salespersons and customers from different cultures have become commonplace. Compared to other salespeople, salespeople working in duty-free shops have more frequent intercultural interactions, as over 90% of their total customers are from foreign countries. Additionally, regular professional training programs for salespeople help cultivate cultural intelligence. Data analysis was conducted using SPSS 20. Results - This paper explores the role of empathy and cultural intelligence in intercultural sales encounters using a theoretical model incorporating the causal relationships between empathy(cognitive empathy and emotional empathy) and customer oriented selling behavior, as well as the moderating effects of cultural intelligence in these relationships. Conclusions - This study is almost the first to explore the influence of empathy and cultural intelligence in intercultural sales encounters. Thus, this study provides a meaningful contribution to the application of empathy and cultural intelligence in the retailing field and will draw the attention of personal distribution practicers and researchers to the importance of empathy and cultural intelligence. Additionally, this study has useful managerial implications for employee selection, training, and development in retailing firms engaged in intercultural sales encounters.

KEYWORD

Salesperson, Cognitive Empathy, Emotional Empathy, Customer Oriented Selling Behavior, Intercultural Sales Encounters.

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