Blumenstein, E, Moore, EM, and Graham, G. 2016. Seamless Fashion Retail in Iceland – The Omni Challenge. Colloquium on European Research in Retailing, 01-04 Jun 2016, Toulouse, France.
Purpose – The purpose of this work is to explore whether there is a “fulfilment gap” between customer expectations and fashion retail strategies over the purchase journey. Specifically this study focuses on two small-to-medium sized enterprise (SME) retail firms in Iceland.
Design/methodology/approach – An on-going case study is still being conducted. We present here our initial findings from interviews with two Icelandic fashion retailers and a customer survey of 237 female customers. The work is designed to explore the strategies being applied by these retailers. Our aim is to determine if they are actually fulfilling customer expectations over the purchase journey. In the first research phase we developed an “Integrated Omni Channel Purchase Journey” framework. We sought to advance this through the second phase – interviews and a survey linked to an on-going case study. From the interplay of theory and data we aim in this paper to report our preliminary advancement of the framework and provide initial answers to three research questions.
Findings –The initial findings indicate a “fulfilment” gap between customer expectations and retail strategy. For instance, while customers expect cross-channel fulfilment and customized solutions, Icelandic fashion retailers are currently only applying a multi-channel strategy. This lacks both integration and customized solutions.
Research limitations/implications – This study is limited with respect to its generalizability. It focuses on the relationship between two fashion retailers and female fashion customers. However the findings provide SME fashion retailers with a starting point for retail strategy development in omni-channel environments. This will enable them to begin to identify the extent to which they are currently meeting their target customer expectations (throughout the purchase journey). Future research will collect more rigorous case data to fully test the framework.
Practical implications – Fashion retailers need to build their capabilities to meet the technology- driven expectations of their customers. They are applying social pressure for new distribution channels and customized solutions. It is therefore recommended that fashion retailers analyse target customer’s expectations throughout the fashion purchase journey and adapt their retail strategies accordingly.
Originality/value – To this date there is no research available on the retail strategies’ being applied by the fashion sector in Iceland and how they meet fashion customer expectations. The findings indicate that retailers have an opportunity to meet target customer expectations better by providing cross channel fulfilment and customized solutions.
|Keywords:||Omni-Channel Strategy, Fashion, Retail, Customer Expectations, Iceland.|