Securing business-to-business relationships : the impact of switching costs

Blut, Markus and Evanschitzky, Heiner and Backhaus, Christof and Rudd, John and Marck, Michael (2016) Securing business-to-business relationships : the impact of switching costs. Industrial Marketing Management, 52. pp. 82-90. ISSN 0019-8501 (

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While the relationship marketing literature acknowledges the importance of switching costs for increasing customer retention, little is known about its relevance in industrial markets. In particular, it is unclear whether switching costs, and associated dimensions, impact on behavioral outcomes of buyer-seller relationships in business-to-business (B2B) markets. In order to contribute to theory development in this important area, our research first explores the dimensions of switching costs for the B2B domain and also tests the relative impact of these dimensions on business customers' actual purchase behavior. Results suggest that switching costs in B2B settings are a multi-faceted construct, including (i) procedural, (ii) financial, and (iii) relational switching costs. Moreover, we find relational switching costs to be most important for securing B2B buyer-seller relationships since they impact a customer's (a) share-of-wallet, (b) cross-buying behavior, and (c) actual switching behavior. While procedural switching costs only influence share-of-wallet, financial switching costs solely impact customer's cross-buying behavior. These findings contribute to a better understanding on how to secure B2B buyer-seller relationships.