Consumer Perceptions of Online Apparel Customization: An Exploratory Study

Consumer Perceptions of Online Apparel Customization: An Exploratory Study

Hira Cho (California State University-Northridge, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-756-2.ch016
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Abstract

This study was conducted to identify a variety of consumer perceptions of apparel customization in the context of e-retailing. Consumer surveys were performed by email invitations through a marketing firm. The survey participants visited apparel customization websites, which were developed for this study, to customize a pair of jeans before answering open-ended questions. The respondents were 213 female college students in the U.S. Their statements were analyzed and categorized into eight dimensions representing the benefits (usefulness, convenience, and fun/enjoyment) and costs (risk, limitation, self-assurance, time consumption, and unappealing) of online apparel customization. Two discussion topics were drawn from the findings: why people are willing or unwilling to customize apparel online. Insights are generated and future research directions are discussed.
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Background

In a modern concept, apparel customization involves the use of certain technology that can be used to reduce the costs of producing personalized items. A US company, Levi Strauss, was the pioneer of apparel customization in this modern concept. To meet the needs of customers, the company adopted body-scanning technology to offer customized jeans at its flagship store in San Francisco. The use of customization capabilities among the top 100 apparel companies in the year 2000 increased 120% compared with the previous year (Kelly, 2000). Similarly, e-retailers began to feature customization on their websites at that time. LandsEnd.com started to offer customized apparel in 2001 with men's and women's khaki pants, and has since expanded its product assortment to include jeans, outerwear, chinos, dress pants, and other items (Scardino, 2004). For companies, online customization is a way to provide additional benefits to their customers. By choosing their own color, fabric, design, size, and fit, customers can create a unique value or style. During the process, e-retailers collect a customer’s information, such as design preferences. The information can be saved and used for the customer’s next online visit. In that way, customers can conveniently shop at the store and also have a feeling of personal service and care.

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