Hypermarkets can be best described as retail units which have an enormous range of products catering to the complete needs of a customer. Customers stand to gain financially from these hypermarkets as these are built on a high volume low cost business model. Rationale of research: This study identifies and analyses the satisfaction of a customer and the effects that this might have on the hypermarkets.

The hypermarket may experience increased sales, profits and higher customer retention rate if their customers are satisfied (Hancock 2007). The researcher believes that since the global customer base is expanding rapidly its imperative that their satisfaction and its associated effects are analyzed critically. Conceptual Framework: There are three variables in this study: Dependant, independent and intermediate. Variables help a researcher to direct or control the research in such a way so that accurate results can be obtained.

Independent variables can be best defined as variables which change in a research while dependent variables can be defined as the ones which change because of the independent variable (Cool-Science-Projects 2007). Independent variable in any research is generally associated with the cause and the dependant variable with the effect. So in this research the independent variable or the factors contributing to a satisfied customer is the cause as it causes customer satisfaction while the effect or the dependent variable is the benefits that a hypermarket would experience as a result of satisfied customers. Intermediate variables in a research are changed by the independent variable and the variable causes certain changes in the dependent variable. The intermediate variable identified for this research is customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction depends on the independent variable (Factors for customer satisfaction) and exhibits certain changes on the dependent variable (Effects on hypermarkets).

The various factors will determine if a customer is satisfied or not and a satisfied or unsatisfied customer will have subsequent effects on the hypermarket. Research Objectives: Since the researcher aims to understand the relation between a satisfied customer and the associated effects on hypermarkets the following objectives can be used as a framework to develop a customer satisfaction survey. i?? To understand the different factors that contribute to the satisfaction of a customer i?? To understand the consequences of a satisfied customer base on a hypermarket i?? To identify appropriate strategies to guarantee customer satisfaction i?? To identify if there are factors other than customer satisfaction which has an effect on hypermarkets Hypothesis: Research objectives offer a broad outlook on the research. These research objectives should be used to formulate a hypothesis to help in the generation of results. Hypothesis can be defined as i??A statement that predicts the relationship between variables (specifically the relationship between the independent and dependent variables)i?? (Project Gold 2000).

In this research the hypothesis would be i?? To understand the effects of a satisfied customer base on hypermarkets Research Methodology: Once the hypothesis for the research is defined the next logical step in the research would be to determine the research methodology. Research methodology can be defined as i??Specific procedures used to gather and analyze research datai?? (Project Gold 2000). The study would be of a basic research design. Basic research is normally undertaken by academics to understand and gain new knowledge. Since this is also an academic study the research can be classified under this category. Data Collection: Data collected can be of qualitative and quantitative data types.

Though it is difficult to clearly demarcate the two types of data collection qualitative data is generally collected through observations, interviews and documents while quantitative data is numerical data (Moody 2002). In this study both qualitative and quantitative data would be collected through a customer satisfaction survey (Appendix 2). Qualitative data is collected through open ended questions. The selected customers have the freedom to provide their own answers to the questions. Quantitative data is collected through a set of close ended questions where the customer should choose any one of the answers provided.

Also the survey would be accompanied by a covering letter (Appendix 1). Sampling: The hypermarkets may receive an enormous amount of customers daily. It is not practically possible for the researcher to gather information from all the customers. In research it is a common practice to go for a sample. Sampling can be defined as i??the practice of choosing a subset of population elements to study instead of the entire populationi?? (Borgatti 1997).

For this study 50 customers would be chosen randomly by the researcher and administered the survey. The answers would be recorded and analyzed. Data Analysis and Presentation: The collected data should be analyzed to arrive at a conclusion. Both the qualitative data and quantitative data collected would be analyzed and presented in a graphical manner using the Microsoft Excel Package. Additionally Chi-Square analysis would be used to test a null hypothesis.

Data Analysis through Excel Package: The first question that was posed to the chosen respondents was about the frequency of their visits to the hypermarkets. From the answers provided most of the respondents were found to be regular visitors to that hypermarket. Around 38% of the respondents visited the hypermarket once a week with 28% doing so more than once. 18% and 14% of them visited the hypermarket once in a fortnight and monthly respectively. Only a meager 2% visited it once a year. The customers were then quizzed on the type of products that they normally purchase from the hypermarket.

It was learnt that a majority of the customers (56% or 28 of the 50 interviewed) visited the hypermarket to purchase groceries while 20% purchased household items and furnishings from the hypermarket. Around 14% and 10% purchased electrical appliances and stationery respectively. The next question enquired the customers if they found it easy to shop for products without seeking any assistance from the hypermarket personnel. While a majority of them (60%) answered in the affirmative the rest felt that they required assistance to locate the things they needed to purchase. Also the 40% who said they need assistance where asked how often they did so.

Around 40% required help often while 25% and 35% of them required help sometimes or rarely. Customers were asked if they were completely satisfied with the efficiency of the hypermarket staff. While 40% of the customers felt that the staffs were efficient the rest of them found them inefficient. The next two questions on the availability and the quality of products in the hypermarket generated almost similar responses with 75% and 60% answering in the affirmative with the rest feeling that it would be better if more products of better quality are introduced. The chosen customers were then enquired about the price and the promotional offers that the hypermarket offered. Though around 35% felt that the prices could be further lowered a majority of them (65%) felt that the prices were reasonable when compared to other stores.

Also most of the customers felt that though the promotional offers are attractive they needed to be increased in volume so that they can get the best bargain. When asked to rate the hypermarket on the whole around 40% felt that the hypermarket was excellent while 34% felt that it was good while the rest felt that it could be improved. When asked suggestions for the improvement of the hypermarket some customers suggested home delivery options of groceries while some felt that orders for products should be taken through phone for customers who frequent the hypermarket. Exclusive offers for frequent customers, better customer service, improved parking facilities baby care facilities and free childreni??s play area were other options suggested. The next five questions were in a Yes/No format. The customers were asked if they i?? Would refer the hypermarket to their friends i?? Would regularly purchase from this hypermarket i?? Would shift to another supermarket in the near future i?? Were completely satisfied with the supermarket i?? And if they thought that there were factors other than customer satisfaction which might have an influence on the hypermarket When the customers were asked if they would refer the hypermarket to friends a majority of them (39) said yes while 30 of them said that they would regularly purchase products from the hypermarket.

The number of customers who wanted to shift to another hypermarket was less with only 17 of them answering yes to the question. Also the hypermarket had a high number of satisfied customers with 37 of the 50 interviewed being completely satisfied with the hypermarket. Interpretations: The answers provided by the customers show that a majority of them who were interviewed were satisfied with the hypermarket and its services. Though some concerns were raised by certain customers about the pricing of commodities the high number of people who were ready to refer the hypermarket to their friends denote customer satisfaction.

The answers provided by the customers denote that the hypermarket has a satisfied customer base. It can be said that the customer satisfaction plays a major role on the effects that the hypermarkets encounter. However, 18 of the customers interviewed thought that there were other factors that might influence the effect on hypermarkets. This answer has given rise to a situation where the data is to be analyzed by a tool Chi-Square Analysis. Chi-Square Analysis: Chi square analysis is a test which is used to test for deviations of observed frequencies from expected frequencies (Florida State University 2007). It is generally used to accept or reject null hypotheses.

Null hypothesis can be defined as i??a hypothesis of no difference (or no effect) and is symbolized by H0i?? (Florida State University 2007). Though there are many types of chi square Pearsoni??s chi square test is the most commonly used (NC State University 2007). We will also be using the same for analyzing the null hypothesis. We will assume a null hypothesis that customer satisfaction and other factors exhibit an equal effect on the hypermarkets.

Chi square is calculated by finding the difference between observed and expected frequencies for each outcome, squaring the result and dividing them by the expected frequency. If there are more than one outcome then chi square is the sum of the results of all the outcomes. The formula to calculate chi square for one outcome is as follows: Chi-squared (X2) = (Observed- Expected) 2/Expected i??The differences between the expected and observed numbers in each class is known as the deviation (d)i?? (Hesford 1998). Observed values are those which we get while expected values are those that we expect based on our null hypothesis. The following table shows the values for our research: Yes No Total Observed 18 32 50 Expected 25 25 50 Total 43 57 100 The observed values for yes are 18 and no are 32. According to our null hypothesis we have assumed that there are equal chances for both customer satisfaction and other factors to have an influence on the hypermarkets.

So the expected frequencies are 25 for both outcomes. The chi square can be calculated as follows: Chi squared= (18-25)2/25 + (32-25)2/25 = (-7)2/25 + (7)2/25= 1.96+1.96=3.92 Chi Squared = 3.92 The next step is to calculate the degrees of freedom (df).

This is done by the formula (No. of columns-1) * (No. of rows-1). In this case df would be (2-1)*(2-1) = 1. After the chi squared value and the df are established the next step would be to correlate the results with a chi square distribution table.

A portion of which is given below: In chi square analysis the critical value or level of significance is placed at 0.05 (Florida State University 2007). Df 0.5 0.10 0.

05 0.02 0.01 0.001 1 0.455 2.

706 3.841 5.412 6.635 10.827 2 1.386 4.

605 5.991 7.824 9.210 13.815 3 2.366 6.

251 7.815 9.837 11.345 16.268 4 3.357 7.

779 9.488 11.668 13.277 18.465 5 4.

351 9.236 11.070 13.388 15.086 20.

517 So now we have the following values. Chi-squared=3.92 df=1 Critical value =0.05 probability To reject or accept our null hypothesis, choose the row corresponding to the df.

In this case df is one so in the chi-square table move along the row corresponding to the df 1 till we arrive at a value close to our chi-square value. Our chi-square value of 3.92 lies between 3.841 and 5.412 and the probability can be expressed as 0.

05Limitations of this research: i?? Though the customers answered the questions there is always the possibility that they might have given the wrong answers. i?? Also the research is confined only to a geographical part and these results cannot be applied universally. i?? There is always a chance that customers might be satisfied with another hypermarket after a period of time even though now they express complete satisfaction. Learning outcomes from this research: i?? The various factors that might influence customer satisfaction were identified. i?? Understood the significance of customer satisfaction on hypermarkets and businesses in general.

i?? Learnt how to conduct a survey and design a questionnaire appropriate for it i?? Knowledge about the different types of chi square analysis i?? Gained knowledge about the use and need for chi square analysis i?? Ability to understand terms such as degrees of freedom and probability i?? Learnt the method of calculating chi square and correlating the results with the chi square table Appendix 1: Covering Letter for the customer satisfaction survey Dear respondent, We are in the process of conducting a survey to analyze the effects of a satisfied customer base on hypermarkets. As a hypermarket shopper it would be very helpful if you can provide your valuable insights regarding the subject by taking up this customer satisfaction survey. We assure you full confidentiality of your personal details and that this study is solely for academic purposes only. It is estimated that this survey would approximately take 30mins of your valuable time. Thanking you in advance for your participation. Regards, Researcher Appendix 2: Customer Satisfaction Survey Personal Details: Name: optional Age Range: 20-25/25-30/30-35 Gender: Male/Female Customer Satisfaction Survey: 1.

Are you a frequent visitor to this hypermarket? If so can you please list the frequency of your visits? ___________________________________________________________________________ 2. What are the products that you normally purchase from this hypermarket? _______________________________________________________________________ 3. Do you find it easy to shop in the hypermarket with out requesting assistance? Yes/No. ___________ 4. If no, how often do you request the assistance from the customer service personnel? ____________________________________________________ 5.

Are you completely satisfied with the assistance offered by the customer service personnel? Please state your reasons _____________________________________________________________ 6. Are all the products which your require available in the hypermarket? _______________________________________________________ 7. What are your comments on the quality of products available? ___________________________________________________ 8. What is your comment on the prices of products in this hypermarket? ________________________________________________________ 9. Do you think the promotional offers of the hypermarket are attractive? Yes/No. ____________________________________________________________ 10.

Overall how will you rate this hypermarket? ________________________________________________ Questions Yes No 1. Would you refer this hypermarket to your friends? 2. Would you regularly purchase from this hypermarket? 3. Do you feel that you will switch to another hypermarket in the near future? 4. Are you a completely satisfied customer of this hypermarket? 5.

Do you think there are other factors other than customer satisfaction which might have an influence on the hypermarket? 11. Please tell us what, if anything, can be done to improve the services offered by the hypermarket: ___________________________________________________________________________ List of References: Borgatti, S. (1997) Research Glossary [online] available from < http://www.analytictech.

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html> [5 January 2008] Florida State University (2007) Chapter Seven [online] available from < http://bio.fsu.edu/~winn/3402L/WinnCH7.html> [5 January 2008] Hancock,R. (2007) Customer Satisfaction [online] available from < http://www.

netregistry.com.au/news/articles/194/2/Customer-Satisfaction/Page1.html> [6 January 2008] Hesford (1998) The Chi-squared Test [online] available from < http://ourworld.

compuserve.com/homepages/clivehesford/> [6 January 2008] Moody, D. (2002) Empirical Research Methods [online] available from < www.idi.ntnu.no/~ekaterip/dif8916/Empirical%20Research%20Methods%20Outline.pdf > [6 January 2008] Mathbeans Project (2007) The Chi Square Statistic [online] available from [6 January 2008] NC State University (2007) Chi Square Significance Tests [online] available from < http://www2.chass.ncsu.edu/garson/pA765/chisq.htm> [6 January 2008] Project Gold (2000) Research Methods Glossary [online] available from [6 January 2008]