Part I: Online Shopping
With the advent of content management systems (CMS), an element of convenience has been added to the timeless pastime of shopping. The popularity of online shopping is evidenced by the latest statistics revealed by recent studies. According to Roy Morgan Research, the phenomenon of online shopping has continued its upward trajectory in 2014, with over 7.6million Australians (approx. 40% of the Australian population) making an online purchase in four weeks. The top ten online shopping categories in the same year are:
- Entertainment and leisure
- Reading materials
- Food and beverages
- Travel products
- Health and beauty
- Home and Garden
- Fashion Accessories
To explore the individual experience of the online shopping juggernaut, I will summarise steps undertaken to purchase two products from one of the most popular online shopping categories – fashion.
My choice of online retailer is the luxury American fashion designer, Oscar de la Renta. Born Óscar Arístides Renta Fiallo in July 1932, De la Renta’s grew to become of one the fashion world’s most recognised couturiers specialising in timeless, feminine styles. His designs, some of which have been worn by distinguished celebrities, are available in his brick-and-mortar stores and online.
The URL of the official Oscar de la Renta e-commerce website iswww.oscardelarenta.com. The website offers international shipping to over 100 countries through its courier partner, Borderfree.
E-commerce features and functions
The website features a number of e-commerce features and functions including:
- a product catalogue with options for filters based on product colour, size, season, and size
- a shopping cart page
- a checkout page with the option to pay by credit card (Visa, Mastercard, or AMEX) or by PayPal
- pages to view special collections e.g. Runway and Bridal
- a Customer Service page, enabling customers to submit queries or enter a ‘live chat’ with Oscar de la Renta ‘personal shoppers’
The product catalogue of the Oscar de la Renta online boutique is clearly categorised from the moment the internet user accesses the homepage. While there is not one ‘Shop’ or ‘Products’ pages, the website displays 14 categories, of which 10 categories contain products which can be bought by the user.
These 10 categories are: Must-Haves, Ready-To-Wear, Jewelry, Shoes, Handbags, Accessories, Childrenswear, Fragrance & Beauty, House & Home, and Sale.
Sub-categories exist within each of these product categories. For example, by clicking on the Ready-To-Wear category, a drop-down menu appears with the following sub-categories: New Arrivals, Dresses, Gowns, Jackets & Coats, Blouses & Knits, Pants & Skirts, and Caftans.
The distinct categorisation of products based on the product’s main function assists the customer in making shopping decisions more quickly than if they were to access a catalogue in which there is no categorisation.
To add the product to a cart, the customer must specify a size (if any) and the product must be in stock.
After clicking on ‘Add to Cart’, the product can be viewed in the shopping cart by either clicking on the ‘View Shopping Bag’ link that appears after adding a product to the cart or by clicking on the shopping cart icon.
If there is no stock availability, a message will appear and the customer is not able to add the product to the shopping cart:
Payment and Ordering
Ordering and paying for the items added to the cart are two straightforward processes. Clicking on ‘Checkout’ leads to the payment page in which customers fill out contact, delivery, and payment details.
After filling out the form, the customer can proceed to submit their details. From then on, the order will be processed and the order will be delivered to the recipient’s address.
Registration for a customer account with a business is recommended for customers wishing to receive online newsletters, to keep track of their order history with the online boutique, and to facilitate the ordering process.
However, there is no such option for Oscar de la Renta customers, even though the FAQ page suggests that customers are given the option to ‘Sign in’. Customers may register for regular newsletters to keep abreast of news and promotions.
Online marketing is facilitated by the use of social media services and email marketing in the form of newsletters. Customers can ‘like’ or ‘follow’ Oscar de la Renta’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, Youtube, or Weibo pages.
The website emphasises minimalism and the use of large images over a white background. The navy blue font over the white background is clear to read. On its product pages, items are aligned clearly so as to promote visibility.
The company has been verified as a secure and certified seller by McAfee SECURE and TRUSTe.