The purpose of the assignment is to implement a successful ecommerce proposal for an upcoming fashion designer in United Kingdom. The fashion designer graduated from a well known fashion university and received two awards for her collection. She has been working since 5 years for other designers and plus working on independent designing of designer wear for women.
The fashion designer would now like to setup her own business to promote her talent globally. The proposal suggests taking an e-commerce approach. Starting your own fashion e-business in the country is quite promising as fashion is a growing and an important industry in the United Kingdom. It was always known for its trends and creativeness. It has evolved from a domestic manufacturing industry into a design led industry. The fashion designing industry benefits from high turnover of new and exciting designers, innovation, competitive looks and styles(Nathan,2009)
As per (Marketing Week, 2009) suggests that the online retail industry can be perceived as a rather complicated means of establishing a business. However in comparison with traditional ways of setting up retail business, electronic medium provide instant access to considerably larger geographical span of target market at a very low setup and operational cost.
The proposal will highlight the opportunities of using e-commerce as a solution for the growth of the fashion designer’s business.
E-commerce has made it possible to communicate with people and carry out transactions any time of the day at the customer’s ease. It is beneficial for the companies to acquire access to the global markets and compete easily with larger similar markets.
Shopping online creates a virtual store for the customers to purchase the products and services therefore use of online retail in fashion is growing all over the world. United Kingdom’s fashion industry is participating with optimism in e-commerce. According to (National Statistics,2009) businesses in the online retail sector showed the largest rise in sales by 106.6bn pounds in 2008 compared to other sectors (travelling, wholesale and real-estate)
When evaluating the importance of online business in an organization, it is useful to identify the different types of e-commerce transactions. One of them is sell-side e-commerce.
As per (Napier et al,2005), sell-side e-commerce involves transactions with selling products to an organization’s customers. Sell-side ecommerce provides many different types of websites. A typical ‘transactional e-commerce website’ is a site which enables purchase of products online and also to give them an option of purchasing in standalone stores (Chaffey, 2007) .Most of the fashion businesses use transactional e-commerce websites so that the customers have the preference of either buying their items online or offline.
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2.2 Opportunities for Using Sell-side E-commerce
There has been a revolution in the way fashion companies are using different tactics and offering their products and services to the online consumers. Paul Smith a designer based in London launched his first online shopping website in 2009, based on B2C model. European customers are able to access the website, soon it will be extended to international market (Lepper,2009). New fashion designers have started opening their online shops in ebay following the C2C model. They are selling their products without any middleman. This is a good way to start up their initial business at less cost and exposure to the international markets
(Bora,2010) and (Chaffey, 2007) suggests that using sell-side e-commerce consists of many other advantages which will be discussed below
Sell-Side E-commerce can reach the customers globally. It enables the companies or individual to reach their customers worldwide. Small companies can also reach their target audience and maintain global relationships without the restriction of finance.
Time is not a constraint in e-commerce business. Many companies benefit from the fact that one can do business online 24/7.
It has been cost effective for many online stores. Opening and maintaining stand alone stores can be very costly. The online store cuts down the sales force, utility bills and other operating cost that is present in offline stores.
Customer’s database can be easily stored and maintained online. Tracking the regular customers is easy. One can send regular newsletters, emails, vouchers about the products and services to customers who want the information. Their information can be stored when they register and automatic updates can be sent to them via email. This helps in retaining customers.
Payments online makes transaction easier and quick. Sales are processed more quickly and effectively
The highlighted benefits show that e-commerce has changed the way consumers shop. Consumers and sellers both have the benefit of selling and purchasing online at their own time and leisure. The technology has changed the behaviour of shopping for customers where they can save time and the options of choosing from variety of products. It goes on to show that e-commerce will be here for a long time and continuously grow as well.
3.1 Implementation of E-Commerce Proposal
Online fashion retail business in UK is a demand driven growing industry. There are more than 50 websites set up by entrepreneur fashion designers in the country to promote their small businesses worldwide. (Pendle,2008).
Building a flourishing site on the internet is every bit as hard as creating a challenging store environment. Like stand alone stores, online stores have to be created to display successful shopping experience for the customers. Yet online retailers have to address the complications arising from the unpredictable behaviour of customers and development of competitor’s websites. According to (Chaffey,2007) Many companies have dealt with these problems and moved in the online world by applying blogging and choosing solution providers that best suits their company, overcoming the limitations of e-commerce and following the laws in a proper manner.
The fashion designer could start the e-commerce business slowly with the help of blogging. Not only established designers but the small or individual companies have adopted this approach to start their own business online. Starting a blog could also start the awareness to audience. Online fashion media is growing and blogging is a big part of it. Fashion bloggers are becoming more famous than the press itself. The thing with bloggers is that the companies have no control over it. Anyone can write about anything on the internet. (Copping, 2009) suggests the most of the bloggers are young and not consumers of designer brands. Yet they are uncontrollable and designers are learning to deal with it. Also many famous designer companies such as Gucci paid a group of fashion bloggers to create the extra hype and awareness of a fashion show held in Paris. Louis Vuitton was the first to use facebook to broadcast a catwalk show live. Meanwhile Dolce & Gabana streamlined its fashion event directly on youtube. Thus it can be said that blogging is becoming interesting and insightful in the fashion world. Even few customers visiting and discovering the identity through the blogs could recommend their friends and families and promote the business. After she get’s recognised in the market, she can start her own small website and build on it when the company starts growing. Launching the website can be done through a limited budget and when the company picks up on sales, hiring proper marketing agents and solution providers to ensure that the designer gets all her potential clients shopping on the website.
Community websites can be very effective to promote such young and talented designers. They don’t really have to open their own web site to sell products which would require large amount of investment, but the designer can use community websites like facebook and wordpress.
(Cave,2009) suggests that broadband of UK plays a big role in easy and reliable access for customers online. Although there are companies available who are working hard to facilitate fast internet connections such as BT in UK but they should focus more on making internet safe for the consumers by using security checks in websites and with the help of banks make sure that the payment cards used online are made by the authenticated user such as 3D secure. The designer should capitalize on the commercial opportunities and choose the right solution provider to provide its customers with optimum security via internet shopping
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The designer could incorporate m-commerce software in the website so the consumers of UK can shop easily anytime of the day. As per (Napier et al,2005) increasing popularity of wireless communication and handheld devices, have led to mobile-commerce. It is the process of buying and selling goods through wireless technology. Customers are increasingly using mobile communication as an option to browse the internet. Making the website accessed from mobile phones can be useful for fashion companies targeting worldwide customers.
The above points highlights that the designer should start her business slowly by using free community websites and blogging to establish her identity and then move forward in launching an online business with adding in m-commerce to increase more customers. This could be an opportunity for her to become a successful online fashion designer.
3.2 Issues to be Addressed
Sell-Side E-commerce like any other business consists of some issues that are important to identify. These drawbacks can bring hesitation among people to use the internet freely. Many developing countries still restrict themselves to shop online and prefer going to the stores for the products.
Trust is the main issue in online shopping. Customers are sensitive and reluctant in giving their financial information online if it is not a secure website. Many people don’t feel secure in doing transactions online as e-commerce can be prone to security fraud. Credit card fraud has been increasing these days, discouraging the consumers from shopping online. (Bora,2010)
Another limitation that e-commerce consist of is updating the product information from time to time. Maintaining the customer orders and website is also very crucial in online business. This can be time consuming and tiring for companies. Privilege of feeling and touching the product is not available in e-commerce websites. Some customers feel less satisfied in ordering the product before examining it properly.
Setting up an e-business is purely dependant on technology. Knowledge of IT is important in running a business especially for individuals and small companies. If technology fails, company has to be very vigilant of the backup as there will be no other substitute. Also delivery of the products can take a longer time and it may result in a wrong order. This discourages the customer in buying product from the same company again or in the worst case shopping online altogether.
Due to the some of the limitations of technology identified above of trust issues over security on internet, e-commerce is still not accepted and used in many countries but no doubt that when it comes to UK customers are more confident in shopping online by secure means and having trust over online companies.
The technical aspects of ecommerce and its importance in establishing online businesses in the UK provided interesting findings concerning e-commerce and their organizations. UK e-commerce is common and consumers prefer it due to convenience, secure payment systems, different variety of choices available and it fits their demands and requirements.
The given proposal will be beneficial for the fashion designer in many ways such as:
The profit margin will increase immensely. One good thing about e-commerce in fashion industry is that it is a good opportunity for companies to invest in online websites in this recession period. This will help the designer in cutting down the high budgets spent in stores and as it is becoming common that every company is going online, the future of e-commerce would be bright for the designer.
One of the benefits would be able to compete in the market. To be competitive in the market, sales and different promotions have to be set not only in stores but online as well to get more customers to browse the website.
An advantage to companies who have online websites as they offer flexibility to its shoppers to shop 24/7 a day from work or home, this would generate more revenue for the business
As there are many protection plans for e-commerce websites in the UK, these laws and secure mediums provide safety to the consumers and are it offers the small organizations to compete with global industries easily. Due to these legal protections for newly established e-commerce sites, care is taken for the businesses to protect the customers who in turn shop with confidence online.
Indication of the time period
Market research will take approximately 6 weeks
Marketing will take 2 weeks
Design and website development will take one month
Maintenance will be ongoing
Therefore the whole project plan will take approximately 3 months to complete while its maintenance and fixes will be in progress taken care by solution provider chosen.
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