A Study of Apparel Dress Model Technology on the Web

By Lawler, James; Joseph, Anthony | Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations, Annual 2006 | Go to article overview

A Study of Apparel Dress Model Technology on the Web


Lawler, James, Joseph, Anthony, Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations


Introduction

Business-to-consumer (B2C) e-Commerce continues to grow in the United States. Retail revenue on the Internet channel has approximated $141 billion in 2004 (Alter, 2005), an increase from $100 billion in 2003 (Chabrow, 2004). Apparel sales on the Internet channel have been estimated to be $13 billion in 2005 (Tedeschi, 2005). Sales on the Web have comprised 7.7% of all revenue sales sources in 2005 (Gagnier, 2005), an increase from 6.6% of revenue sales in 2004 and 3.6% in 2002. Forecasts have indicated revenues on the Web will increase to $172 billion in 2005 (Alter, 2005) and to $230 billion, and 10% and higher of all sales, in 2008 (Chabrow, 2004). Consumers on the Web have grown to be mainstream customers of this additional buying channel, as 5 million households will annually buy on the Web for their first time through 2008 (Chabrow, 2004).

Retailers have to continue to invest in better e-Commerce design (Ricadela, 2005), in order to ensure increased buying on the Web. Apparel retailers have to be cognizant of buyer perceptions of service, risk, price, product and experience (Jarvenpaa & Todd, 1997), but in order to convert a consumer into a buying customer, retailers have to differentiate their design in an especially functional, engaging and compelling experience (Pullman & Gross, 2004). Differentiation in encountering a home page of a retailer Web site, searching and choosing a product from a catalog on the site, ordering and paying for the product, and contacting customer service if needed enables experience in apparel shopping on the Web (Sebastianelli, Tamimi, & Rajan, 2005). Studies indicate the evolution in the design of e-Commerce sites from that of experimentation, creation of value and growth through focus, to differentiation of experience and of relationship (Gabriele, Brohman, Watson, & Parasuraman, 2004; Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004). Innovation in the design of the apparel buying experience is indicated to give an edge to a retailer Web site.

The focus of our study is to examine the importance of factors that contribute to a discernable differential in the experience of goal-focused shoppers on apparel retailer dress model Web sites.

Literature Review

Studies in the literature indicate factors of compatibility of lifestyle (Ratchford, Talukdar, & Lee, 2001), ease of use, ease of effort (Baty & Lee, 1995), fun (Goldsmith, 2000), playfulness (Liu, Armett, Capella, & Taylor, 2001), and risk. The factors are indicated as important in the design of differentiation in a generic shopping experience (Jarvenpaa & Todd, 1997). Wolfinbarger and Gilly (2001) indicate differentiation in the context of goal focusing. Goal focusing is further indicated to be deliberate, efficient, fast, rational and task-focused shopping (Hoffman & Novak, 1996). Goal-focused shoppers are frequently independent of the help of online sales and service staff and are indicated to have a clearly defined objective to buy already identified products on the Web without the help of staff (Moe & Fader, 2001).

Wolfinbarger and Gilly (2001) introduce the following factors as important in goal-focused shopping on a retailer Web site:

* accessibility and convenience, which affords ease in effort in buying apparel products on the site;

* availability of information, which allows for organized, relevant and searchable specifications on the products sold on the site;

* lack of sociality, which enables fulfillment for a goal-focused independent shopper to buy the products with or without service or sales help; and

* selection, which enables sufficiency in the inventory of apparel products sold on the Web site.

Such factors give an enhanced edge to a retailer sensitive to goal-focused apparel shoppers on its Web site.

Other studies indicate factors of customization and personalization of apparel Web sites as important in the differentiation of a site (Drogan & Hsu, 2003). …

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