The success of the online shopping and the success of the internet in general can be attributed to the natural desire of all humans to do their things faster and better. Since time and memorial, the humankind had managed to produce ways, measures and methods that will allow them to do their tasks in lesser time than the usual and be able to do it more conveniently. The constant improvements in the information and communication industry are the direct derivatives of this instinctive desire.
Deep within the human brain is a programming that makes possible the innovations that will improve life styles in terms of speed and ease. Retailing of both cheap and luxury items is not an exempted on this kind of phenomenon. Over the years, with the advance in web technology, we had managed to see the establishment of online shops. Most of these online shops and stores are just a branch of a real tangible store that is located somewhere wherein customers can walk in to shop.
However, some of these shops that are growing in numbers are exclusively online shops.
Many of them are selling luxury goods and they are dedicated in providing high quality items delivered to your doors at a very competitive price at the click of your mouse. In this paper, I am going to assess the success of online fashion luxury industry. We are going to study and discuss how the fashion luxury items and goods became viable for online shopping. Classic Fashion Merchandising For us to move forward, it is necessary for us to define the basic question of what is fashion merchandising.
According to the Institute for Career Research of Chicago (ICRC), fashion merchandising is a wide and diverse field. Most often it includes numerous personnel that work for the planning, buying and selling of fashion items. It is important to note that fashion items is not limited to the clothes. It also extends to the different accessories, jewelries and furniture that we use for ourselves and for our places (1). The most common job of a fashion merchandiser is to scout shopping stores and shopping centers both locally and abroad to buy items that they can market at their own store or business.
As they purchase items that they find to suit the current trend or believe to be accepted and purchased in their own stores, they arranged these items on their shops in such a way that it can be able to attract customers. As customers walk in their shops and boutiques, they can assist the customers and present their own line of clothing. With customers and their items, they can be able to help their customers in deciding what to purchase in their stores. (ICRC 1-2 and All Star Directories) Online Fashion Merchandising
The advancement in the information and communication industry with the internet technology being the frontline of the changes and revolution had managed to provide numerous new avenues for different areas. Most especially in fashion retailing and merchandising, the internet technology, together with the other innovations had managed to provide a new medium for marketers and entrepreneurs. Today more than ever, the online fashion merchandising had been regarded as the fastest growing avenue of distributing fashion goods and items (ICRC 3).
Different business, entrepreneurs and retailers are taking advantage of the global reach of this technology. The establishment of websites and homepages of these businesses and people is a strong proof on this growing trend. According to Uche Okokwo, many of the most well established business and brands in the fashion industry such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Gucci had pioneered the establishment of their own online stores and shops that will allow their customers to access and avail for their luxury fashion items (192).
Along with this trend, social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Multiply also became an avenue for fashion trade. However, the operation of the retailers and merchandisers tend to be a haven for smaller businesses or individual hobbyist rather than the bigger players in the fashion industry. The Problem of Online Fashion Luxury Merchandising Prior to the trend that we see today, there are many doubts that discussed the viability of marketing and retailing luxury items such as Prada, Ray ban, Gucci, Tiffany Co. on the internet rather than the classic stop and shop boutiques and malls.
In fact, there had been a late transition on the luxury brands marketing via the internet. The factors range from the concern on over diluting the atmosphere and spiritualism of the luxury brands to the inability of the internet technology to communicate and translate the sensual pleasure and experience that these luxury items can bring to its shoppers. The logic of these arguments is quite easy to see and understand. It is true that the luxury and uniqueness of these high end items lies on their exclusivity and accessibility.
When you disperse their images on the web which is practically and literally accessible to the six billion people on earth, there is a good chance that their exclusivity and uniqueness will diminish. This is in addition to the inability of the internet technology to communicate 100% the experience of shopping and sensing these luxury items. The overall aura of the shop with its excellent customer service cannot be adapted 100% on the online shops. The logic and viability of these arguments are so well-thought that it managed to delay the boom of the online luxury shops.
The Solution Doubts had managed to prove the non-viability of online shopping for luxury items until the assessment of M. de Kare Silver’s Electronic Shopping Test. This test framework numerically quantifies the likelihood of a particular brand or product to be marketed successfully online. The Electronic Shopping Test became a useful tool for marketers and retailers on how to market their luxury products successfully online. The said test contain three factor test criterion namely (1) product characteristics, (2) familiarity and confidence, (3) consumer attributes.
The product characteristics criterion defines and categorizes a particular product that is a candidate for online sale. It classify whether the product is a physical or virtual product. Physical products are those products that have an impact on the human senses such as sight and touch. On the other hand, virtual products are said to be the products that have an impact on the intellect of the shopper. This includes services such as banking and insurance. The test state that the more the virtual the products, the better chance it will be successful to be marketed online.
This is because a virtual product does not need the enforcement of the senses to be availed (192-193). On the first glance, it is easy to categorize luxury goods and items on the physical goods category. However, closer analysis of luxury goods and items will put them on the virtual category. This is because consumers does not avail these items on the sole basis of physical attributes alone. What matters more in this kind of products is the perception of its brand, designer and manufacturer together with its brand relationship. In this respect, luxury goods can be regarded to be a suitable product for online shopping.
The second important criterion is the familiarity and confidence. Luxury items built by successful and famous brands will score high in this criterion. Consumers tend to shop and avail products which they consider to be satisfactory and trustworthy. The judgment may come from their own personal experience on the product or the words of mouth of their own circle about it. As a luxury item or brand score high in the familiarity and confidence criterion, it does not matter anymore for many consumers whether they touch and see the products first before they will purchase it (194). The last criterion is concerned with the consumers’ attributes.
Over time, there had been a statistics showing the products and goods that is more likely to be availed by the consumers online. As long as the products that will be marketed correspond to these proven items of choice of consumers, there is a good chance that the product can be successful to be marketed online (194). De Kara-Silver’s test had managed to erase the doubts on the online fashion luxuries industry. Proving the viability of the fashion luxuries to be marketed online along with other goods and services that became a classic items for online shoppers became an important first step on the boom of the industry.
However, concluding that fashion luxury items are viable for online trade is just the first step for the success, along with this fact, marketers, brands, retailers are making numerous innovations on how to market their luxury goods online. People and companies involved in merchandising try to adapt the 10 Cs of fashion luxuries online marketing. This includes (1) customer value, (2) convenience, (3) cost, (4) communication, (5) computing, (6) customer franchise, (7) customer care, (8) community, (9) content, (10) customization (Okonkwo 203-204).
These services and features bundled with the long tradition of the brand’s aura and perception had managed to bring the online fashion luxury industry as the fastest growing industry in the retail industry today. Conclusion The rise in the sales on fashion luxuries availed through online shops is expectable. The whole world is moving its lifestyle from a face to face approach towards virtual and digital interactions. It is difficult for any business to thrive on the world today without the use and help of the latest in information technology.
The people today are more exposed than ever on the internet and it is a foolish decision for this fact not to be considered by the luxury brands. Though doubts are present at first, the spearheading luxury brands proved that it is possible to bring huge sales online. The argument on the dilution is now irrelevant. The internet is not a tool exclusive for the poor or the rich. The internet is a food that both poor and rich people consumes. This is why fashion luxuries managed to have a place on the web. Works Cited All Star Directories. Description of a Fashion Merchandiser.
All Arts Schools. 2010. Web. Accessed 1 June 2010. De Kare-Silver, Michael. E-shock: The Electronic Shopping Revolution: Strategies for Retailers and Manufacturers. AMACOM. 1999. ISBN 0-814-404-979 Harris and Dennis. Marketing the e-Business. Routledge. NY. 2002. Print. ISBN 0-203-93316-8. Institute for Career Research of Chicago. A career in fashion: merchandising and marketing management. Research No. 117. ISBN 1-58511-117-1. Print. Okokwo, Uche. Luxury fashion branding: trends, tactics, techniques. Palgrave Macmillan. NY. 2007. Print. ISBN 0-230-52167-3
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