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Assess the e-commerce activities of clothing retailer Topshop.

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Introduction

I have chosen to assess the e-commerce activities of clothing retailer Topshop. They now operate a website to supplement their store operations. Below gives a short but useful insight into the nature of the website: Click here for clothes, vouchers and gift ideas. From jeans, dresses, shoes and lingerie - it's blissful, hassle free online shopping. (Wanadoo.co.uk) Before looking at the analysing the actual nature of their e-commerce operations it will be useful to give a brief history of the Topshop brand and then a brief history of e-commerce. Topshop belongs to the Arcadia Group Plc, the largest clothing retailer in the United Kingdom. Arcadia has over 2000 outlets throughout the country and many more worldwide. Topshop is one of seven the brands with others being Topman, Burtons, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Wallis and Miss Selfridge. Topshop was established in 1965 and is one of Arcadias leading brands. Topshop's flagship store in Oxford Circus, London is the world's largest fashion store. Topshops customers are 70% 16-34 year old females with the large percentage of young customers being due to the high fashion nature of the clothing. So what is e-commerce? E-commerce has been described as: The process of buying, selling or exchanging products, services and information via computer networks. (Turban & King, p.3, 2003) However some find this to narrow a definition and see the term e-business as being more appropriate as it encompasses more than just the notion of exchange, also including areas such as customer service and collaborating with others (business partners for example) ...read more.

Middle

finds that users are just not willing to wait for pages to load, deeming users as "impatient beasts". Topshop's website loads more or less immediately when the site address has been typed in, taking the user to the main page straight away. All other pages throughout also loaded very quickly, which I felt was good considering the level of graphics and photos on the pages. No other pages or buttons need to be clicked to enter the site. For Nielson (1996) this is important in keeping the users attention since that as few as 10% of users go beyond what they see on the initial screen (cited by Holman, 1997). In other words if the user doesn't see what they want/expect straight away they will simply go no further. Although I think Nielsons view might be slightly exaggerated I think it is a valid point. In relation to this Holman then suggests that a company should "present their meat" in the first one or two screens and this is exactly what Topshop do. Other good features of site design are the clearly marked heading boxes (a). I Think these are good because you know exactly toget the things you want, instead of being left to clicking all over the page to find the links as you have to in some websites, which can be quite frustrating. When you click on these heading boxes a drop down menu appears with a list of options. For example under SHOP there is a breakdown of various categories such as jeans, coats, dresses making it easy to find what you are looking for. ...read more.

Conclusion

However with regards to the merchandising of items one thing I would prefer would be the ability to see more angles of the the clothes, for example side views and zooms of small details. This feature is evident in the site, however it is only in the vintage area of COLLECTONS containings the higher, priced items and in the moto jeans section of COLLECTIONS. These merchandising techniques can be seen in appendix 9. I think such merchandising in all areas could perhaps push sales just that bit further by giving that little bit more information. The following statement appears to agree: They (the user/customer) want to be able to find out more about a product than what you put on the screen the first time they see it. (Fogarty, 2000, p.2) To conclude I think it is fair to say that Topshop has got an easy to use, fast, and effective website. It ties in well with the brand. I think the brands current excellent reputation and popularity is the key in gaining value. I think the e-strategy is in line with the overall strategy and both retail channels store and internet share common goals of wanting to be the best young fashion store on the high street. Although the website has some minor flaws. These are slight technical problems, which I view as having no great threat of scaring customers away. As someone once said: Retailers generally stink at e-commerce (Fogarty, 2000, p.1) I think this stereotype is a bit of an overstatement and perhaps the person behind these words should take a look at the Topshop website before making such a sweeping statement. ...read more.

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