Customers are satisfied when their expected values of a product, a service or a relationship are achieved. Meeting customer expectations builds customer satisfaction, which leads to frequent purchases, and facilitates in achieving long term objectives such as customer retention, and customer loyalty.
Improving customer experiences is also profitable for the business – depending on the industry, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. Research by Reichheld (2001) suggests that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. To achieve this profitability, and to sustain the competition, it is imperative that the retailers understand customer experiences throughout their journey with the brand. While it is essential that retailers need to work on improving these journeys using data collected from customers’ interactions across the multiple touchpoints and deploying various analytical approaches, a significant gap between the two is observed. Innovations in industrial applications, and in the development of research knowledge, needs to be steered in this direction.
In recent times, researchers’ focus on the application of insights from the customer journey to real-time business environments has picked up momentum. Tueanrat et al. conducted a review of literature on customer journey and identified that Tourism, Financial services and insurance, Electronics, Events and entertainment, and Clothing and apparel were the five most frequently studied contexts in the customer journey articles. In the tourism industry, adopting an experiential discourse, and utilising supporting moments from the active consumption phase aids in developing customer understanding for micro-tourism firms. Engaging in personal relationships with the customers and involving their preferences in the design of customer experiences was found to be essential for micro-tourism firms.
In the financial services and insurance industry, learning from customer data and using this knowledge to create customer experiences is deemed highly important in improving performances. For banks to retain customers, they need to work on digitising their financial activities, tailoring, and personalising services for customers, and integrating Artificial Intelligence to uncover customer intent.
In a similar way, customers have expectations from clothing and apparel providers. The fashion industry faces customer retention as a serious problem, and they are under pressure to constantly create new experiences for the customers. A need for identifying and providing what customers look for when they first come, and to keep them coming, is realised. Giri et al. reiterate the point that in the fashion industry, customers demand more personalised services and perception is not sufficient to understand customers. They introduce the concept of using data to understand customers and meet their expectations and argue that with customer analytics in the fashion retail industry, firms have the leverage to generate customer profiles and enhance their recommendation services, thus creating value for both the customers and the business. Literature supports the stance that customer experiences are formed holistically during their customer journeys and suggests that personalising customer experiences are crucially important.
Terblanche et al. in their literature review identified that customer journeys had been extensively studied in the US, the UK, and in Sweden. While their research is extensive, their findings cannot be generalised across various geographies. This study aims to understand customer journeys in the apparel industry and applying these analytical insights to deploy marketing concepts that encourage customer repeat purchases.
The objective of this study was to find out ways in which apparel retailers can encourage repeat purchases from their customers. To meet this objective, the study addressed four key conceptual areas. Firstly, it developed an understanding of various experiences customers go through on their journey of association with the brand. Then, it tested the ways in which these experiences contribute to customer satisfaction, and customer repurchase intention using tree-based methods. The study explored the association between Satisfaction and Repurchase Intentions. As a result of these tests, the study was able to identify ways in which improving customer journey experiences aids the retailer in encouraging repeat purchases.
The study is based on the research on Customer Journey conducted by Lemon and Verhoef, where they identify three stages across the journey. Namely, prepurchase, purchase, and post-purchase. These stages were used to understand customer satisfaction – where the study found perceived quality, and social media marketing to be important in the pre-purchase stage. Service quality, service satisfaction were found to be important in the purchase stage. Lastly, delivery speed, returns and refunds in the post-purchase stage were key.
For repurchase intentions, the study identified the importance of brand image and perceived quality during the prepurchase stage, the shopping experience, service quality and satisfaction during the purchase stage, and product quality and product satisfaction from the post-purchase experience of the customer. The study emphasises the need for apparel retailers to work on integrating various touchpoints customers encounter across their journey to provide a seamless transition, which helps to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction and repurchase intent.
By carrying out a Chi-Square test for independence, the study had enough evidence to reject the null hypothesis (that satisfaction and repurchase intention were not related), and found that there is, in fact, a relationship between the two. With this evidence, the study chose factors from the customer journey that overlapped between the two to test the effect these experiences have on the number of repeat purchases customers make over a year. This resulted in identifying that improving perceived quality, service quality, and service satisfaction is essential for encouraging repeat purchases.
 Kuo-Wei Lee, Maria Corazon L. Lanting and Maneesap Rojdamrongratana (2017). 'Managing customer life cycle through knowledge management capability: a contextual role of information technology', Total Quality Management and Business Excellence, 28:13-14, pp.1559-1583
 Tueanrat, Y., Papagiannidis, S., Alamanos, A. (2021). 'Going on a journey: A review of the customer journey literature', Journal of Business Research.
 Yachin, J., (2018). 'The ‘customer journey’: Learning from customers in tourism experience encounters', Tourism Management Perspectives, 28, pp.201-210.
 James, L. (2021). Transforming customer journeys in financial services. [online] Technology Record.
 Giri, C. et al. (2019) in Majumdar, A. et al. (eds.), Functional Textiles and Clothing.
 Jain, S., Sundstrom, M. (2021) 'Toward a conceptualization of personalized services in apparel e-commerce fulfilment'. Research Journal of Textile and Apparel, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp.414-430.
 Terblanche, N.S., Kidd, M. (2021). 'Exploring an in-store customer journey for customers shopping for outdoor apparel', Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services.
 Lemon, K. and Verhoef, P., (2016). 'Understanding customer experience throughout the customer journey', Journal of Marketing, AMA/MSI Special Issue, Vol. 80 (November), pp.69–96.
10 November 2022