Apparel E-Commerce and Fitting Enabling Technologies
Abstract: Given that not even 10% of clothing is sold online, apparel e-commerce faces major challenges as opposed to traditional apparel shopping or e-commerce of digital goods. Due to the constantly increasing online business, it is essential to optimize the online apparel purchase process, for it to become more competitive. Perceived product risk and return rates– for apparel– are exceptionally high. Fitting and size uncertainty is the key reason to both purchase hesitance as well as number of returns. In this study it is investigated whether fitting enabling technologies (FETs) can benefit apparel e-commerce by making the purchase process more efficient and solving the aforementioned complications. Focus here is put onto three main fitting technologies: Fits.Me, UPcload and Virtusize. In order to serve the study purpose, subjects of research included the classification of apparel goods, the theory of perceived risk as well as technology acceptance. The measures of the technological acceptance model (TAM) were used to examine and evaluate the applications. These were ‘skills’, ‘perceived ease of use’, ‘perceived enjoyment’, ‘perceived usefulness’ and ‘post-purchase evaluation’. The method was based on a deductive approach, first examining theory and then confirming results practically. A general online observation of diverse (fitting) enabling technologies paired with extensive literature research of accompanying topics, lead to the selection of three case technologies, which could be tested and evaluated based on the components of the literature review. Closing the gap between retailer and consumer in order to create purchase process efficiency could be achieved. Purchase hesitance due to the inability of physical examination of intangible apparel goods could be minimized through the integration of FETs. The measures of the TAM were tested overall positively in regard to the technologies in the e-tail context. The online apparel purchase process had been aligned with the conventional buying procedure and consequently generated the same benefits, allowing apparel e-commerce to finally achieve competitive advantage, to potentially substitute traditional apparel shopping and to eventually build upon a consistent and coherent international size infrastructure.
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