The table above shows the results of nine different motivations that were included as “part 2” in the questionnaire, and were presented as “five-point” Likert scale questions measuring participants’ degree of consent. “1” represents a respondent from the survey, who agrees with the statement, and “2” represents the student who disagrees; therefore, the higher the mean result is, the more disagreeing with the survey statement the student is. The figures in the above mentioned table were calculated in order to find three main motivational factors that influence students to shop online. The results below show the prevailing motivations, which influence students to shop online for clothes instead of local stores:
1. Rage of styles and colors/greater choice: Most respondents “strongly agreed” that greater choice of products is the reason why they prefer brick and mortars to traditional shopping. During the interview, several participants explained that online stores provide more designs, colors and products in general than the local stores. Also, students make the online purchases as they simply cannot find the pieces of clothing they like in the local stores online (Appendix 6). This result is supported by the findings of Chang (2010), which state that the young buyers prefer to shop online because they are motivated for novelty-seeking and learning about new trends; thus, their need to discover new styles and brands can be met by the Internet.
2. 24/7. Any time, any day: Another considerable motivation for students to buy clothes online is the opportunity to purchase products at any time of the day. The brick-and-mortar websites are convenient for students, as such stores don’t have the closing hours and the 24/7 availability matches students’ lifestyle (Bamossy, 2010).
3. Low prices: Students believe that the online stores offer lower prices for clothes than the local shops do. According to Elliot (2012), the reason the online retailers provide lower prices is that they spend less on rent, they don’t have to pay their electric bills, and they don’t hire many sales managers. The respondents also noted in the interview that some fashion retailers give discounts and special offers for their loyal customers, and this is particularly attractive for them, as they have lower disposable income comparing to the income of the older consumers. Appendix 7 shows the example of the offers that the online retailers provide to their customers.
The results above also show that the motivation factors such as interaction with sales managers, no standing in line on the internet, and no need for the long distance travel have the weakest effect on students’ motivations to shop clothes online. All students, who participated in the research, live near Canterbury’s city centre; therefore, a long distance travel is not an obstacle for them, and during the interview many students stated that “they don't have to drive miles to get to the shops”, meaning that it is not the main reason why they shop online. Those students who study at the universities that are located outside the cities might shop online due to the long distance to the local shops they have to travel. It can be concluded that the results cannot be generalized and adjusted to the whole population, and further research needs to be done at other universities of the country in order to determine the most important motivations of buying clothes online.
In the end of the “5-point” Likert scale questions, the researcher also included the open-ended question for the participants to answer, which is whether they have any other motivations to shop online. The results below show other motivational factors that encourage them to shop online for clothes:
- It is fun;
- Free return of products;
- Ability to use rewards.
Only 4 people out of 85 answered the question. Due to the 4.7% response rate, it is inappropriate to consider these motivations as such that influence students to shop online. However, further studies may include the following answers in their research in order to find out whether these motivations play a significant role in students’ online shopping behaviour.
4.4. Demotivation of shopping online
The aim of this study was also to find out what the disadvantages of the online shopping are, and what improvements need to be done in order to decrease those limitations and encourage more students to shop online. The biggest barrier to shop online is a perceived risk. According to the Figure 3, the security is a primary disadvantage for students to shop online. During the interview (Appendix 6), the participants have added that they are cautious of buying at the online stores, and fear that their credit card details can get stolen.
The following results contradict a study by Park & Kim (2009), which stated that online payments have become increasingly secure. The Graph 1 shows the opposite and concludes that young buyers are not fully confident in the internet shopping and the security risks still exist in today’s online purchasing. The participants have also stated that the delivery problems, which include the time needed to transport the products, is a major disadvantage of the online shopping. The third obstacle was that students need social interactions, according to the study by Hung (2010) who noted that younger buyers like to shop with their peers and spend most of their time with reference groups.
Graph 1: Demotivation of shopping online.
4.5 Would people shop online because of the new 3D fitting rooms?
Graph 2: 3D fitting rooms would encourage shoppers to buy clothes online
In response to the question “Would people shop online because of the new 3D fitting rooms?”, the majority of the participants replied in the affirmative. About 62% of the participants replied affirmatively and 38% replied negatively. It can be said that the new 3D fitting rooms can increase the trend of online shopping, as the new 3D fitting rooms allow buyers to see the product in three dimensions, which ultimately increases the buyer’s trust in the product. The idea of 3D fitting rooms directly affects the consumer’s buying behaviour and his purchase decisions. The table below summarizes the responses of the participants to the same question:
How often do the students shop online? / year of study
The output from the table below shows the asymp. Sig figure. If the figure of the table below is .005, it would mean that the year of studies has an influence on how the students shop online.
The second research question was aimed to find out the motivation differences of shopping online between males and females, what motivations are more prominent than the others, and whether males and females have the same or different motivations.
The output above (table 7) shows the clear differences in means and standard deviation statistics. The lower the mean is, the more participants “strongly agreed” with the statement given in the “Likert scale” question. The results show that gender gap in online shopping motivations still exists, and supports the studies, which are based on the theory that males and females differ in their consumer buying behavior (Kim, 2004; Bailey, 2008; Dewi, 2012; Yi-Wen, 2013). These results also oppose Robertson’s (2007) findings that the gender gap has narrowed in today’s generation.
The results above completely oppose numerous studies that highlighted that women are less likely to use internet for shopping in comparison to men (Doolin, 2005; Utz, 2011; Bailey, 2007). According to the results, women have been constant customers of online shopping websites, especially since the e-stores introduced various styles and expanded the range of products on the internet. The table 7 shows that females are likely to shop online due to the great choice of clothing products available. The low prices of e-stores also play an important role when females decide to purchase clothes online; it shows that females prefer special offers and would go back to the same websites if they become the members and get the discount offers. Online stores that target young female buyers, such as “Net-a-porter” and “ASOS”, have successfully increased their profits when they understood that female buyers are highly motivated when the retailers offer them lower prices and encourage to visit the website again when they are given some special offers and tagged as “loyal customers” (Park, 2009). The third motivational factor is the ability to shop online 24/7. The convenience of the online shopping shows again that internet attracts students as it is available at any time of the day.
Also, the findings illustrate that males believe that online stores provide more information about the products. During the interview, male participants have stated that they like to spend time searching and choosing the sports clothing products. Some males stated that their favorite website is “Nike”, as it provides a detailed information about the sports clothing products. The second motivation is that there’s no distraction of carrying clothes around when they make the online-purchases. The low prices also play a key motivation factor for male students when they decide to purchase products online. The “low prices” option has also been chosen by female participants, which shows that low costs of clothing products attract students of both genders. It is clear that the online sales and special offers are an important motivational factor for both female and male students.
4.7. Demotivation of online shopping and gender differences
1) Barriers to shop online for females
Graph 3 – Female’s online shopping demotivation
The table above clearly states that females still believe that security is the main obstacle to shop online, which is supported by numerous studies (Dewi, 2012, Yi-Wen and Yi-Feng, 2012, and Awad, & Ragowsky, 2008). The findings show that female students want more security when at the online retailers’ websites and lack confidence and trust in online stores, which still is a great obstacle for online retail (Sebastianelli, 2008). However, the latest innovation, such as “Paypal”, seems to change the opinion of female customers; according to the interview, female buyers have noted that they believe the new “Paypal” can be the solution to the security issue, since most people use this payment system and today it has proved to be safe. In addition, Kim (2004) noted that security risk would depend on student’s educational level. However, this study proved that the year of studies is not important for the online shopping behavior.
2) Barriers to shop online for males
Graph 4 – Male’s online shopping demotivation
The graph above shows that males believe that the slow time of the delivery is the disadvantage of the online shopping. Most male participants stated that they still shop in local stores for clothes when they need a product immediately; this is a huge disadvantage of the e-retailers: they cannot deliver clothes right after the customer buys the product.
4.8 3D fitting rooms will encourage females more than males to shop online
According to the cross tabulation table below, 3D fitting rooms will encourage female participants more than males to shop online. 36 out of 44 female participants prefer 3D fitting rooms and think they can improve the shopping experience; at the same time, only 8 female participants thought that 3D fitting rooms would not increase the number of online customers. In contradiction to females, 24 out of 41 male participants think that 3D fitting rooms have no impact on the behavior of online customers. This conflict is gender-based, as the male participants said in interviews that they do not need fitting rooms and 3-dimensional rooms as such, and they are less concerned about the colors and variety than the female participants are.
This research opposes numerous studies, which state that students are economically inactive and do not spend much on clothing products, especially on the internet. The results from the qualitative research show that today students purchase clothing products more often, and believe that the online shopping plays an important part of their lives. The majority of interviewed participants noted that they have purchased clothing products in the last three months and intend to use the online stores in future. It shows that today the student population is more willing to make the purchases online, including buying clothes at websites. Purchases of “replacement” clothing, such as buying a favorite pair of jeans or T-shirts from established manufacturers, make up a large share of online sales.
4.9 What are the implications for retailers?
The findings show that students are an important group of consumers. External factors also play a vital role in the process of buying online, as the motivational factors are differ for men and women, and this difference shows that the gap still exists. The answers for the two main questions showed some very interesting facts. Firstly, it was found that the “range of styles and colors is an important motivation factor for females. Secondly, low prices also play an important role when females decide to purchase clothes online. The third motivational factor is the ability to shop online at any time of the day.
The key motivations for men were completely different. Contrary to the expectations, low prices were not the top motivator for men, as it shared the second place with two other motivators, which are “don’t have to deal with the sales people” and “no distraction of carrying the clothes around.” The top motivator for men was the amount of information. The implication of this is to create special pages on the website and provide the detailed product information when men are the main target market; when women are the main target, the variety of colors, designs and sizes would be the main priority. Although the low prices have become as a secondary factor, it is still of a great importance, as it can influence the decision. Many people will not state that price is the main factor, but the comparison of the prices definitely takes place when choosing the product. Retailers need to provide even more discounts for the consumers in order to attract them to shop online. Weekly offers can be sent to the students to remind them about the sales and new items in stock.
The demotivating factors were also equally influential; the biggest demotivating factors for men were the delivery problems, followed by security problems and social interactions. On the other hand, the main demotivating factors for women were security problems, followed by social interactions and delivery problems respectively.
Thus, it is clear that men and women assess the risks when shopping online quite differently. Women are more risk-averse than men; therefore, it can be stated that the main implication of this is that the online retailers, when dealing with the female customers, need constantly to assure them that shopping is secure and ensure that their credit card details will not be stolen. Therefore, when dealing with the female customers, security and minimization of risks are the key factors influencing the decision.
On the other hand, when dealing with male customers, quick and safe delivery must be guaranteed; male clients have to see that they will save their time and the items will be delivered with no delays. In order to overcome the online delivery barrier, the e-retailers need to create a new strategy to decrease the time of the delivery, and deliver clothes at the same or the next day after placing an order. Today, the female customers do not make many online purchases, as they like to try the clothes on. However, the 3D fitting rooms can help the retailers to address this issue (Mintel, 2013).
5. Limitation of the study
The collected data has some reliability and validity issues, as the number of participants is 85, and we are making the conclusions upon the answers of the small number of respondents. There was no standard error tolerable for this study, but there was a 5% standard error in the data collected. A larger audience can increase the effectiveness of this research, but due to the limited timeframe and other resources, the number of interviewees was rather small with no standard error tolerance. Furthermore, all participants are from the same city, which decreases the reliablility of the research and cannot be applied to the whole population. Cultural, geographical and demographical factors may vary in different cities and countries, which was completely ignored in conducting of this research.
6.1 Main Findings
Even though the popularity of the e-commerce has increased, students still choose to shop at the local stores. 50-70% of the participants stated that they prefer to shop at the local stores. Therefore, we can conclude that online shopping is still not the main way to make the purchases of the clothes. This indicates that the barriers of online shopping, such as problems of security and delivery, have an effect on students’ decisions to shop or not to shop online. Female respondents stated that they spend more time to shop online (75–100%) more than males do. It is shown that females are more likely to buy clothing online. However, this applies for the apparel sector only; therefore, the findings for different product categories may not show the same results. Overall, students’ attitude to online shopping for clothes is highly positive, and it can be concluded that e-retailers can target the young online customers.
There were three distinct objectives of this research. The first one was to evaluate the motivational and demotivational factors of online purchases of clothes. The results indicated that the key factors are price, variety and convenience. These findings are in-line with the research findings of Sorce (2005) and Kim (2004). The studies reveal that the common belief that online products are cheaper despite that E-Commerce was introduced more than 10 years ago. Since there are no physical limitations for the online stores (location, geography, choice of products offered by the online store), it is a great advantage for the online businesses. Another important advantage is the convenience the online stores offer. Since the online store is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and since the customers can access it from their homes or from any other places, it is also a big advantage for the online stores and one of the main reasons for the growth of the online businesses. This finding has also been proven by the research conducted by Joines et al., (2003); Widrick (2005); Dennis (2007). Thus, every online retailer of clothes needs to take the advantage of the convenience of the purchasing process, the variety of products and the perception of low cost. For example, using these 3 points for the developing the marketing strategies of promotion and advertising will benefit the online stores.
The next objective is gender differences and how they affect the online purchases. The findings suggested that men and women have different motivational factors. The variety of products and the convenience were important to women, while no distraction of carrying clothes around and not dealing with the sellers were important factors for men. Thus, the clothes retailer will benefit the most if it can offer greater variety of products for women and more information with less interference for men.
Finally, the last objective is the difference in the ways the male and female customers make their purchases. This research proves one thing clearly: men and women have different ways of shopping online. Their motivating and demotivating factors are quite different; thus, they have to be targeted in a different manner. It is important for the retailers to ensure the security that their websites offer from the fraudulent activity and identity thefts. At the same time, it is very important to offer the detailed information for men and stress how pleasant the process of shopping online is.
Thus, this research confirms the previous research conducted by the scientists like Joines et al., (2003); Widrick (2005); Dennis (2007); it also suggests some practical steps the online retailers can take to increase their revenues. It can be concluded that gender segregation is very important to keep in mind when selling the products to the customers. Better offerings can be made by providing a larger variety of clothes for women and providing more information about the products and ensuring the secure and fast delivery for men.
6.2. Areas of further research
One of the areas to be researched more deeply when conducting the next study is comparing the stores that feature clothing items equally popular among men and women. Such research would need to be based upon the specific data provided by the online retailers (Appendix 9). It was also mentioned before that it is required to research other sources to collect more data. That would include the data from the financial reviews that evaluate corporations in the light of their stock values. It would be needed to use other sources of information, such as media outlets. Journalists often have access to the information, which is not available for students. Media outlets provide information about past and future trends and about other events that influence the public perception of the online fashion retailers.