Change search
Link to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Publications (1 of 1) Show all publications
Andersson K, P., Nöjd, S., Otterbring, T., Westman, J. & Wästlund, E. (2019). The How, What, and Why of Digitalizing Physical Retail Spaces. In: The 16th International Research Symposium on Advancing Service Research and Practice: . Paper presented at Quis 16 June 10-13, 2019 Karlstad.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The How, What, and Why of Digitalizing Physical Retail Spaces
Show others...
2019 (English)In: The 16th International Research Symposium on Advancing Service Research and Practice, 2019Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This aim of this study is to enhance the understanding of customer behavior and customer experience in the context of city centers and peripheral shopping centers and how the use of digitalized services affects this experience. In this paper we adopt a qualitative approach to explore consumers´ activities when visiting a city and/or a shopping center and the experiences connected to the visit. The study is based on data from 832 (55% female) with a M age = 48 years (range 17-91 years) consumers.

When visiting a city center and/or a shopping center, customers engage with a variety of different touchpoints (Socchi, Hart and Haji, 2016). From a customer perspective these touchpoints create experiences that generates many types of values. In recent years, the mass media has warned for the demise of city and shopping centers commerce. This purported demise is mainly due to the strong growth of e-commerce. To meet this competition, the retail and hospitality industry has developed strategies to create new customer experiences and thus attract customers back to the city center’s physical places. As a consequence of the technical development, companies frequently try to influence customers’ experiences through various digitalized services, where these digitalized service have the potential to improve customer experience by providing superior and personalized services (Roy et al. 2016). The question is what impact such services have on customers’ experiences and how this, in turn, affects the profitability of the retail and hospitality industry as a whole.

In order to shed light on the activities and experiences of visitors to city and shopping centers regular consumers were approach during a regular visit to such an area and asked to answer a few open ended questions.  The data was analyzed using thematic analysis. Thematic analysis aims to identify and report on thematic patterns across the sample, which allows researchers to make interpretations of the data that reflect the reported reality of participants (Braun and Clarke, 2006; Hayes, 2000; Ruane and Wallace, 2013).

The preliminary analysis of the data shows a variety of activities and touchpoints when visiting the city and shopping center. Seven themes emerged in our analysis of the participants´ responses: Relationship, Goal fulfillment, Experiences, Physical venue, Milieu, Practical usability and Non-intrusive.

In order to make more sense of the seven themes a model were developed. In this model three of the themes were connected to the customer, two connected to the service provider and the last two connected to digital technology. These three clusters interact in different ways.

The customer cluster contains the themes relationships, goal fulfilment and experiences. The themes in this cluster describe and vivifies the customer. The customer is not just a “shopping robot” jumping from touchpoint to touchpoint along a customer journey. The customer instead is a person with goals to fulfil but at the same time someone who has a great need of relationships on different levels and a person who will and want to experience things.

The service provider cluster contains two themes. One were named physical venue and this is where the service provider, be it a storeowner or a restaurant owner for example, has the most direct control. It is also where the customer will go to fulfil his or her goals. Here the direct contact between customer and service provider can and will take place. The second theme in this cluster were named “milieu”. The milieu can be the space the customer needs to pass in order to get to the physical venue or other factors that the service provider do not have control over (e.g. public spaces and weather)

The third and most interesting cluster concerns the digital technology, named practical usability and non-intrusive. Digitalization is highly interesting when it comes to the relationship between the customer and the service provider. The first theme described the importance of the usefulness of digital technology, and  in regards to digitalization the results indicates that digitalized services mostly fulfill utilitarian needs and works best in functional touchpoints. The theme called non-intrusive describes the relation between the customer and the digital technology. It may be somewhat drastic to talk about a two edged sword but on the one hand digital technology makes life easier and sometimes more joyful and at the same time the technology may disturb goal activities which leads to negative experiences.

These findings is important because it offers help to those managing city and shopping centers in identify touchpoints that need to be digitalized and those who need to be reinforced through social activities This knowledge could also help managers develop strategies to create new customer experience, i.e. create good valuescapes, and thus tease customer back to the city and shopping center´s physical places.


Braun, V. and Clarke, V., (2006), 'Using thematic analysis in psychology’, Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3 (2) 77-101

Hayes, N. (2000), Doing Psychological Research, Open University Press, Buckinghamshire.

Ruane, L. and Wallace, E., (2013), 'Generation Y females online: insight from brand narratives', Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 16 (3) 315-335

Roy, S. K., Balaji, M. S., Sadeque, S., Nguyen, B., and Mlewar, T. C., (2016), 'Constituents and consequences of smart customer experience in retailing', Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 124 257-270

Stocchi, L., Hart, C., and Haji, I., (2016), 'Understanding the town centre customer experience (TCCE) ', Journal of Marketing Management, 32 (17-18) 1562-1587

retail, value, experince, digitalization
National Category
Psychology Business Administration
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-72184 (URN)
Quis 16 June 10-13, 2019 Karlstad
Available from: 2019-05-28 Created: 2019-05-28 Last updated: 2019-06-14Bibliographically approved

Search in DiVA

Show all publications