Understanding the Impact of Cross-Channel Integration on Consumer Purchase: Empirical Examination Based on Three Omni-Channel Contexts


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

View graph of relations


Related Research Unit(s)


Awarding Institution
  • Kwok On Matthew LEE (Supervisor)
  • Jibao Gu (External person) (External Supervisor)
  • Hefu Liu (External person) (External Supervisor)
Award date9 Jul 2021


Omni-channel retailing is becoming an increasingly prevalent trend in recent years, where customers can shop seamlessly across channels (Verhoef et al., 2015, Mirzabeiki and Saghiri, 2020). Although cross-channel integration is regarded as the important precondition for retailers’ omni-channel transformation (Herhausen et al., 2015, Tagashira and Minami, 2019), the implementation of cross-channel integration needs massive investments and substantive efforts (Chen et al., 2018). Therefore, confronted with resource constraints, retailers can either optimally utilize existing resources or seek external recourse to achieve cross-channel integration. Specifically, for retailers who have implemented cross-channel integration, they can determine an optimal presentation pattern of the existing integration system. Moreover, retailers can also choose to operate their online channels in third-party e-marketplace platforms and utilize platforms’ resources to achieve cross-channel integration. For instance, retailers can use platform functions in multiple platforms to coordinate their online channels. Or they can utilize platform functions to achieve the integration between their online and offline channels. Despite the prevalent existence of these patterns of cross-channel integration, existing studies pay scarce attention to whether and how they influence customer purchase in omni-channel retailing.

Study 1 is focused on the question that how to prioritize the presentation of information integration and fulfillment integration in retailer’s own channels. From the perspective of IS success model and cue congruence theory, Study 1 investigates the impact of congruence and incongruence between customer’s perception of information integration and fulfillment integration on customer retention. Meanwhile, combined with the heuristic systematic model, Study 1 further considers the moderating role of customers’ showrooming motivation. Using polynomial regression analysis and response surface analysis, Study 1 analyzes survey data collected from 250 Chinese samples. The results show that incongruence between perceived information integration and fulfillment integration is negatively related to customer retention, whereas congruence between perceived information integration and fulfillment integration has a non-linear effect. Furthermore, showrooming motivation amplifies the influence of congruence and incongruence.

Study 2 pays attention to the question that how retailers can utilize platform functions to coordinate multiple online channels operated in platforms. Based on optimal distinctiveness theory, Study 2 examines the role of function usage difference (i.e., disparity and variety) on product sales performance in multiple platforms. Moreover, it further considers the boundary conditions of retailers’ reputation and interaction experience in various platforms. Study 2 collected secondary data from 222 retailers and 10188 products in three dominant e-marketplace platforms from May 1st to October 20th in 2020. By using a hierarchical linear model, Study 2 generates several important findings. Firstly, function usage disparity negatively impacts products’ sales performance, while function usage variety positively influences products’ sales performance. Moreover, retailers’ reputation can only amplify the positive role of function usage variety. Counterintuitively, retailers’ platform interaction experience strengthens the negative role of function usage disparity.

Study 3 discusses how retailers can utilize the platform functions to achieve online-offline channel integration. Drawing on the push pull mooring framework, Study 3 investigates the role of online-offline information integration and fulfillment integration on a third-party e-marketplace platform’s sales growth. Additionally, it further considers the moderating effect of inter-platform function usage difference (i.e., volume difference, category orientation difference, uniqueness). Study 3 collected data from 52,040 products in a dominant Chinese e-marketplace platform and 213 retailers’ information on inter-platform function usage difference. Using propensity score matching and a hierarchical linear model, this study demonstrated the negative impact of online-offline information integration on product sales growth in the platform, while the role of online-offline fulfillment integration was not significant. Moreover, volume difference amplified the negative role of online-offline information integration but did not significantly influence the role of online-offline fulfillment integration. Category orientation difference could mitigate the negative impact of online-offline information and fulfillment integration on sales growth. Uniqueness weakened the negative influence of online-offline information integration but also strengthened the negative impact of online-offline fulfillment integration on sales growth.

This thesis advances our understanding of cross-channel integration through five aspects: (1) This thesis focuses on the fit and misfit between information integration and fulfillment integration, thereby extending to previous literature which has only examined the independent effect of information integration and fulfillment integration. (2) Differed from previous studies’ discussions about integrating retailers’ channels, this thesis provides novel insights about cross-channel integration in the context of third-party e-marketplace platforms. (3) This thesis explores the role of cross-channel integration from a third-party e-marketplace platform perspective, which complements literature on customer and seller perspectives when investigating the value of cross-channel integration. (4) This thesis responds to the call of previous research about investigating the boundary conditions of cross-channel integration by examining the moderating roles of customer (i.e., customer showrooming motivation) and retailer level characteristic (i.e., retailer’s reputation and platform interaction experience, inter-platform function usage difference). (5) This thesis has significant implications for retailers implementing cross-channel integration under resource constraints. Moreover, the results of this thesis can also be used for third-party e-marketplace platforms design platform function and serve omni-channel retailers.

    Research areas

  • Cross-channel integration, Omni-channel retailing, Third-party e-marketplace platform, Polynomial regression analysis, Response surface analysis, Hierarchical linear model