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In recent years, the business of container lines has faced severe challenges such as overcapacity and low profitability. To survive in such a competitive market, container lines need to maintain long-term customer relationships by enhancing the satisfaction and loyalty of customers. The purpose of this paper is to adopt a social exchange theory (SET) approach and investigate the impact of relational bonding strategies on the satisfaction and loyalty of customers in container shipping.Design/methodology/approachDrawing on SET, a theoretical model that specifies the relationships between relational bonding strategies, customer satisfaction and loyalty was proposed. Survey data were collected from 175 freight forwarders. The obtained data were analyzed using structural equation modelling.FindingsThe results indicate that financial bonding strategies have the most significant direct effects on customer satisfaction, while social bonding strategies have the strongest direct impact on customer loyalty. Financial bonding strategies, on the other hand, have the strongest total effects on customer loyalty. Intermodal and basic operations are found to have the equal total effects on customer loyalty.Research limitations/implicationsBy identifying the most effective relational bonding strategies for enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty, this study’s findings allow container lines to better allocate their resources and implement effective relational marketing policies to satisfy and retain their customers.Originality/valueThis research analyses and validates the determinants of customer satisfaction and loyalty from a relational lens and empirically contributes to the field of relational marketing in the container shipping industry.
International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 2, 2019
Keywords: Structural equation modelling; Social exchange theory; Relationship marketing; Relational bonding strategies; Container shipping; B2B services
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