The nature of retail service varies from personal service to the provision of greater ambience. Indeed, anything that adds value to the merchandise itself can be considered part of the service provided by the retailer. The focus of this paper is on that part of retail service that involves direct interactivity between the store and the customer. There are two main types of physical interactivity, namely personal service and store design and atmosphere. This paper aims to develop constructs of these two types of interactivity and analyse their impact on store loyalty. An extra dimension is added to this study by contrasting the role of service between superstores and traditional specialist stores in two retail categories. A key finding was that the major difference between the service provided by superstores compared to traditional specialist stores relates to store design and atmosphere. This leads to the suggestion that the recent wave of superstores has ushered in a new paradigm of retail service, one with elevated emphasis on self-service principles. A further finding was that store design and atmosphere was one of the more important determinants of store loyalty. The paper shows that superstores have revolutionised the nature of retail service, mainly by more effective configuration of self-service, mediated through store design.
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