Many of the so called seller markets are changing to buyer markets. This leads to an enhancement of customer-centered activities on production-oriented markets. As a result there is a demand for everyday products and services as well as for individualized benefits on consumer goods and supplies.
In order to classify the spectrum of customer-oriented products and services it is necessary to define appropriate parameters (cf. Lampel and Mintzberg,1996) Reichwald and Dietel describe the customer orientation issues focusing on production. They differentiate the complexity and the variability of tasks in the production program. (cf. Reichwald and Dietel, 1991). Pine et al. use the alteration rate of products and processes to distinguish between standardized and customized products. (cf. Pine et al, 1993). However, the success in customer orientation will be granted in adaptation of customer's needs to products and/or services (in the following abbreviated with the term output). Therefore it is important to measure the personalization from the view of the customers.
The relation between the individuality of an output and customer's need depicts only a single feature of an output because different features can have different levels of individuality. Furthermore, a customer would like to look on various features in order to find a personalized product or service [cf. Lancaster (1971)]. The features describe all parts (e.g. product attributes, price, colour) of the output which make a difference to a customer. In this context an additional parameter has to be established: the degree of complexity. Complexity depicts the output from a multi-layered basis. It describes the variety of different features of an output. Figure 1 shows the relations between the customer's need, output, feature and value.
The retailing sector in the UK has changed dramatically in recent years, with larger retail businesses growing at the expense of small retailers. The number...