(Source: Pgacon, 2009)
- Images and Download Time: Most of the pages have too many images. There is a small thumbnail and a large full-size image. Each image is linked to the full-size version. Visitors can download and view only those large images they are interested in.
- Advertisements: Ads are a seemingly unavoidable part of the websites. Banners are displayed on all sorts of web pages. Author has seen pages where you have to scroll past half a dozen ad banners to get to the main information. It's a real turn-off and a bad idea (Pgacon, 2009).
- Frames: By using frames the web page is divided into two or more sections, with each section displaying a different document. One can, for example, keep a table of contents displayed in one frame while displaying information in another frame.
Things those Annoyed Me
- Some of the website does not provide detail information of their products
- Many of the web pages do not have categorized search option.
- There are sometimes less payment option for the customers..
- Gray colors were used to make the background which conflict with the black text color. Color combinations of text and background made the text hard to read.
- Also, the busy, distracting backgrounds made the text hard to read.
- Some texts are too small to read.
- Borders are turned on in tables.
- Some product information are missing some paragraphs are typed in all caps.
- Some of them typed in bold.
- Underlined texts are found in some pages, which are not a link.
- Pictures of products are identified with blue link borders around graphics.
- Some links are not clear about where they will take.
- Some of those pages use a second web browser window opens and displays an advertisement or some other information while maintaining page displays in the first browser window. Links in body copy distracts readers and lead them off to remote, useless pages.
- Some of the text links are not underlined so one doesn't know they are links.
- Large graphic files takes a huge time to load.
- Graphics are sometimes meaningless or useless.
- Some of those have graphics that don't fit on the screen.
- These websites contain blinks, especially text which looks irritating.
- Some text that stretches all the way across the page
- When multiple things blink altogether everything seems confusing.
- Websites has animated "under construction" signs, which seems irritating.
- Multiple animations of some sites never stop.
- There are some links with junk advertisements.
- Too many little pictures of meaningless awards on the first page.
- Frame scroll bars are in the middle of a page.
- Unclear and over complex navigation makes the visitor confused.
- Entry page or home page of few websites does not fit within standard browser window (640 x 460 pixels).
- These websites are designed with too many focal points on the page.
5. Difference between E-Retailers & Traditional Retailers
Traditional retailers feel to be threatened by the dot com beast. Differences include debating time, money, and availability between online and traditional shopping. Both share the same goal and real estate, but that's where the similarity ends. Both of these types of facilities have the same objective: to get the right product to the right customer at the right time. Both operate out of the same kind of real estate: warehouses typically located near major transportation arteries. But they aren't as similar as they appear - or as some online marketers might assume. In fact, one can safely say they're as different as night and day.
Identity: Customers in a physical outlet can easily authenticate the identity of a merchant simply by walking into a bricks-and-mortar store. Stores can be members of a community and neighborhood; they can be part of customers' daily experience. There is concreteness about a physical store that no amount of HTML will ever match.
Immediacy: Customers can touch and feel and hold the merchandise. Tactile cues can drive the decision to buy. A transaction that is face-to-face is usually unmediated. On the other hand, e-tailers communication is the hands of a third party or technology.
Discourse: Customers can converse with the merchant face-to-face; unmediated conversation is basic to human communication. People want the feedback available from non-verbal behavior, which forms a large part of judgment process.
Community: Customers can interact with other customers and gain feedback about the merchant from other customers, as well as by observing the merchant interacting with other customers.
Privacy: Customers can make purchases anonymously with cash; they usually don't have to give their name or address. They don't usually have to worry about what a store will do with their personal information, although this is becoming more of an issue with various recent attempts by lawyers to access private sales and rental records. Privacy is often a measure of how much of his or her identity a buyer wants to invest in a transaction; sometimes, we just want to quietly make our purchase and leave with it.
(Source: Philosophe, 2009)
6. Creating Shopping Environment through Website Ambiance (Question-2)
The E-Retailers use certain website ambiances to create a shopping environment just like a traditional store. Some examples are:
- Drop Down Menu (Popup Menu) The submenus can pop up over form elements, frames, flash, and even go over the browser window.
- Flash Buttons Create snow, star, rain, bubble effects, flash-like animations, banners and many more with these buttons.
- Navigation Bar: It provides a tabbed interface for sites, very familiar to most visitors.
- Animated Buttons: These are that let you generate appealing menus with impressive mouse over and killer fade effects.
- Spin Menu: A menu, which starts a 3D spinning of color rectangle on every mouse over generating a great visual effect.
- Image Transition: It produces a cross-fade between two images on mouse over. This menu supports great transition effects and interlaced text effects.
- Stretch Bar: This bar creates a fun elastic-like effect. The item text stretches when you point at it and shrinks on mouse out.
- Image Fade Menu: It helps us to develop image-based fade menus with color mouseover filters.
- Navigation Buttons: Navigation buttons and bars are easy to understand and use. Throughout the website navigation is consistent.
- Photos: Good use of graphic elements such as photos, subheads, pull quotes is used there. Every web page in those sites look like it belongs to the same site; there are repetitive elements that carry throughout the pages.
- Animation Highlights: Animated icons, scrolling text, and other moving elements are all the range. Having some movement on the web page can indeed be an effective way to call attention to certain elements and to simply liven things up a bit.
- Frames for Products: By using frames the web page is divided into two or more sections, with each section displaying a different document. One can, for example, keep a table of contents displayed in one frame while displaying information in another frame.
- Skins: Skins make the webpage design similar to the interior design of a real outlet.
- Consistent Image: This can be done by using the same colors, fonts, and your business’s logo. This consistency builds the image of your business and makes you more recognizable to customers.
- Visitors Information Page: Details of the policies, the benefits of the service, pricing structures and incentive programs are written in the web page.
(Source: Workingwithpets, 2009)
7. Good Products to Sell Online (Question-3)
Online selling is the wave of the future, and the present for that matter. After researching what products do well online, here are some ways to catagorize the products to sell online:
- Good Demand Products: A product that people want or need is ideal. A product that people want and need can be sold online make larger profit. Some examples can be books, DVDs, movies, cell phones, mp3 players, etc
- Niche Products: A niche product is a product made and marketed for specialized uses. Instead of throwing yourself into the surf with the sharks, find a product category without a huge amount of competition and one you can stand out in. For example, , , Crafts, Dolls & Bears, etc.
- Easy to Ship: Products which are easy to ship should be selected. Example, , Consumer Electronics, furniture, gifts, etc.
- Non-Perishable Products: Products those are non perishable should be sold online. For instance, Clothes, Printer, etc.
- Light: Products those are light reduces shipping costs. Toys, Accessories, Gifts, etc. can be some example.
- A Digital Good: Downloadable digital creation is the best example of online selling goods like e-book, software, etc.
- Non-Fragile Goods: Things those breaks up very easily should not be sold online. Example, Show Pieces, Jewelery, etc
(Source: Onlinebusiness, 2009)
Products those are Less Conductive to Sell Online
- Perishable Goods: like fruits, vegetables, etc.
- Bulky Goods: Refrigerators, TV, Computers, etc.
- Very Expensive Products: Jewelry, Expensive stones, etc.
- Real Estates: Home, Buildings, Land, etc.
- Cheap Products: Chocolate, Ice-cream, etc.
- Less Demand Products: Machinery Parts, etc.
- Daily Commodities: Fuel, Rice, etc.
- Heavy Goods: Machineries, Engine, etc.
- Fragile Goods: Show Pieces, Toys, etc.
8. Features Provided by Lands’ End (Question-4)
- My Virtual Model: Lands’ Ends offers a feature named “Your personal model” which is very impressive to the customer especially the women. Because this feature is allows women to configure a 3-D model to their body type. As a result, women can easily choose what kind of cloth will be suitable for her. In this feature they can give their figure details, what kind of color they want etc. They can also try on the clothing virtually.
- Shop with a Friend: This feature provides someone with the opportunity to find a friend who is online and discuss with him during buying a cloth.
- Shopping Cart: The shopping cart facility allows one to select all the clothes he or she likes and put it in a virtual cart which work as a reminder later.
- E-mail Account: The e-mail account facility is a added facility where one can open account and use it as a personal e-mail account.
- Order Tracking System: The order tracking system helps someone to find the position of the ordered product. One can easily track the condition of his product and easily get to know when he is going to receive it.
- Weekly Special: One other facility of Lands’ End is weekly special option where the newest products are displayed within the option.
9. “Online Live Customer Service” Reduce Risk of Shopping Online (Question –4)
In a traditional brick-and-mortar store, if a customer needs help, he or she can look around and find someone. In e-commerce, obviously, that's not an option. There are several ways to provide high-quality customer service with a minimum amount of work. These customer service options reduce some potential risk of online shopping. They are:
- Live Chat: Live chat gives customer the option of providing real-time help to more than one customer at a time. Using a live chat utility is much like instant messaging. Customers can simply click on a link to contact the retailer immediately. Normally, a small browser window will open, and customer can communicate with the vendor in real time.
- Order Tracking: Many of the inquiries in this option, the customers will send to know about the status of their orders. Once an order is shipped, the vendor will mark it as shipped and enter the appropriate tracking information into the customers’ shopping cart application. Most shopping carts will even generate an automated email message to provide the customer with the appropriate tracking information.
- Support-Ticket: Some percentage of merchandise will be damaged in shipping, or a customer may need to exchange a product or have some other concern. Implementing a support-ticket process can further streamline the support process. Support ticket applications are fairly simple: Customers visit the site, click a support link, and are prompted to submit their order information. This system works very well if vendors have a lot of customers.
- Phone Support: If all else fails, there's always the telephone. It can be expensive and time-consuming to provide phone support, but sometimes it's the best way to communicate with the clients.
(Source: Smsmallbiz, 2009)
As author saw earlier, using online CRM the risk of shopping online is reduced. So the reduced risk advantage will provide opportunity to sell more of the products online. Perishable goods like fruits, vegetables, etc. can be sold easily as the vendors can provide replacement option to the customers. Bulky goods like refrigerators, TV, computers can be sent to the customers’ home. Thus online CRM will open the opportunity to sell more sorts of products through online. The online facility will give the customer independence to contact the vendor any time he wishes. Moreover, any kind of support can be easily provided to the customers.
10. Advantages & Disadvantages of Online Distribution to Halfsed’s (Question-5)
- Global Presence & market place: Approximately 957 million people (Sept, 2006) worldwide have access to the World Wide Web (WWW).
- A Wide Network: Every smart businessperson knows, it's not what you know; it's whom you know. Passing out business card is part of every good meeting and every businessperson can tell more than one story how a chance meeting turned into the big deal. Halfsed can 24 hours a day, inexpensively and simply be on the WWW.
- Make Business Information Available: Halfsed can keep his customer informed of every reason why they should do business with them and keep them informed about innovations.
- Serve Customers: Making business information available is one of the most important ways to serve their customers. This allows Halfsed’s customers to punch in sizes and check it against a database that tells him what color of jeans is available from their brand.
- Heighten Public Interest: With Web page information, anybody anywhere who can access the web and hears about the company. This becomes a potential visitor to the web site and a potential customer for your information there.
- Sell Products: Using web interface will widen the market share for Halfsed’s jeans and it can increase its sales very easily.
- Make pictures, sound and film files available: A picture is worth a thousand words. The website gives the space for a thousand words by enabling one to show their product picture.
- Reach a highly desirable demographic market: The demographic of the Internet user is probably the highest mass-market demographic available.
- Answer Frequently Asked questions: Whoever answers the phones in your organization can tell you, their time is usually spent answering the same questions over and over again. These are the questions customers and potential customers want to know the answer to before they deal with you. The FAQ of website will remove barrier to do business with Halfsed and freed up some time for that harried phone operator.
- Stay in Contact With Salespeople: The employees on the road may need up-to-the-minute information that will help them make the sale or pull together the deal.
- Open International Markets: Before Halfsed go onto the web, it should decide how it wants to handle the international business that will come. Because online postings are certain to bring international opportunities to Halfsed.
- Creating a 24 Hour Service: Web pages serve the client, customer and partner 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No overtime either. It can customize information to match needs and collect important information that will put you ahead of the competition, even before they get into the office (Classactive, 2009).
- Higher Cost of Installation: Online distribution is not free. The cost of software, hardware, wed site design, maintenance of your site, online distribution costs and of course, time, all must be factored into the cost of providing service or product.
- Unavailability of Live Interaction: The Internet is still regarded as a source of information gathering for the majority of customers. Of the number of visitors to Halfsed’s site, the vast majority of visitors who are motivated to buy will do so in person. Many people prefer the live interaction when they buy.
- Timing of Update: It is easier to have outdated information on a site, thus timing of updates is critical.
- Lack Customer Service and Inquiry Response: As an Internet distributor, Halfsed will lack customer service and inquiry response programs. As a result, many online visitors to their site will already have painted its site as poor service before they have even contacted you.
- Poor Navigation: Websites sometimes have poor navigation, which makes it difficult for the visitor to find what they are looking for. Many sites are created with a marketing view, not a customer service point of view.
- Lack of Security: There are many incorrect stereotypes about the security of the internet out there. As a result, many of your visitors will not want to use their credit card to make a purchase. The fear of having their credit card info stolen is a clear and present danger in the minds of your visitors.
- Huge Competition: There is a lot of competition for the product already out there. By the time visitor finds Halfsed, they have already been clicking many links.
(Source: Econsultants, 2009)
11. My Recommendation to Halfsed’s Inc. for Selling Online (Question-6)
There are many other pros and cons of Internet distribution. Hafsed can pursue to sell its jeans on the Internet. Halfsed need to consider some factors that will be create an effective Internet selling strategy for selling jeans. My recommendation would be:
- Personalized Business Listing: There should be a personalized listing of the business type and name, how it operates its business.
- Contact Information for Customers to Reach Them: Halfsed should add as much contact information as possible including phone numbers, email and Website address. It should also include its business hours and availability. It should also list additional locations.
- Search Availability: Halfsed should make available its products through search engine inclusion.
- Increase Visibility: Halfsed should add the company logo with enhanced Profile. Doing so will help its customers distinguish it from its competitors.
- Highlight Halfsed’s Specialty: Within the whole website it should highlight its jeans.
- Service Area: Halfsed should identify the specific areas and neighborhoods service in the listing with Service Area feature to let its customer know it is in their neighborhood.
- Adding Credentials & Credibility: Reputation counts for any business. So, Halfsed should be sure to list any affiliations it has with accredited organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce.
- Adding Ratings and Reviews: With a review form Halfsed should encourage its customers to post reviews and rate the service. Not only will those ratings and reviews make the business more attractive to other consumers.
12. Final Thoughts
In the first world countries, consumers prefer Internet shopping to traditional one. However, even though these advantages may lead some consumers to prefer online shopping, they are not necessarily choosing one shopping channel over another. Instead, consumers are shopping wherever and whenever it is convenient to them, whether by store, catalog, or Internet. Today’s consumers are multi-channel shoppers, and some occasions prefer traditional off-line shopping to shopping on the Internet.
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