Academic journal article Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations

An Exploratory Study of Apparel Dress Model Technology on European Web

Academic journal article Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations

An Exploratory Study of Apparel Dress Model Technology on European Web

Article excerpt

Dedication

The authors dedicate this study to Pol Thiry (1940-2007), who was Professor of the University of Mons-Hainaut, Mons, Belgium, and whose diligence and exceptional friendship helped in initiating a productive relationship in research with Pace University, United States of America, that continues undiminished with further international studies.

Introduction

Electronic business (e-Business) continues to advance in countries of the European Union. Indices display activity adoption of e-Business as generally high, as indicated in Figure 1.

Actual adoption of e-Business infrastructure is also largely high, but different by the countries, as indicated in Figure 2.

Estimates indicate that 17% of firms in these countries conducted e-Business marketing and sales on the Internet in 2005 (European Commission, 2005b, p. 8). European consumers buying apparel on the e-Business Web are estimated to be 40 million in 2006 and are forecasted to be 73 million in 2009 (Horyn, 2005). Growth of e-Business in the European Union, as in the United States, affords analysis of business-to-consumer (B2C) competitive design that can contribute beneficially to the field.

European apparel firms are as challenged as American firms in having a competitively creative e-Business design on their sites (Koo, Koh, & Nam, 2004). They have to be conscious of consumer expectations and perceptions of service, risk, price, product and experience (Jarvenpaa & Todd, 1997) and fulfillment, promotion and quality (Urban, Carter, Gaskin, & Mucha, 1986), in differentiating an experience on the sites. Differentiation and innovation in an e-Business design by European firms may give an edge to an apparel Web site.

Design is defined in terms of style and usability on a Web site. Literature in differentiation indicates factors of perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness from the frequently cited technology acceptance model (TAM) as important in influencing consumers to adopt information technology (Brown, Massey, Montoya-Weiss, & Burkman, 2002; Davis, 1989; Venkatesh, Morris, Davis G., & Davis F., 2003), if not enjoy and buy on a Web site (Koufaris, 2002). Usefulness may be defined as the extent to which a consumer perceives a site enhancing a shopping process task, and ease of use may be the extent to which the consumer perceives the site to be free of effort in the process of shopping (Venkatesh & Davis, 2000). An ideally designed Web process for shoppers is differentiated in ease of use and usefulness of the site. Sites considered easy to search for information may influence less price sensitivity (Lynch & Ariely, 1998). Literature indicates economic benefits to firms from factors that facilitate shopping tasks (Saeed, Hwang, & Grover, 2003).

The focus of this study is to examine the importance of design factors that can contribute to a differential in the experiences of European goal-focused shoppers on European Union apparel dress model sites.

Literature Review

Though guidelines in the design and differentiation of Web sites have been defined in European and American literature (Cronin, 1995; Lynch & Horton, 1999; Nielsen, 2002), apparel sites do not always achieve desired impact, due to design and also to perceptions of product, price, risk, service, and quality. Consumers continue to abandon shopping carts, though their goal may be to buy on a site. They form flash impressions of sites in 1/20th of a second (Caudron, 2006) and search for products, if not prices, on competitor sites.

Differentiation in the design of apparel sites for especially goal-focused shoppers on the Web is examined in our study of sites in the United States (Lawler & Joseph, 2006). In that study goal focusing is indicated to be deliberate, efficient, fast, rational and task-focused shopping (Hoffman & Novak, 1996). Goal-focused shoppers are frequently independent of the help of on-line sales and service staff and are indicated to have a definite objective to buy already identified products on the Web without the help of staff (Moe & Fader, 2001). …

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