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Integration of online and offline retail: Opportunities and limits of cross-channel retailing in the apparel industry

  • It has been common for retail firms to simultaneously operate multiple channels. However, customers are increasingly demanding a seamless shopping experience and cross-channel strategies have gained in importance for retailers across industries. It has become evident that successful integration of online and offline channels can increase customer loyalty and ensure a retailer’s long-term profitability. Although opportunities presented by cross-channel retailing are diverse, until today only few retail companies have successfully implemented such a strategy, as they face firm- and customer-related limits. Thus, the purpose of this bachelor thesis is to provide a general understanding of the concept of cross-channel retailing and to examine how new technologies can link retailers’ sales channels on the one hand, but also pose major challenges on the other. A literature review using academic journals, trade publications and academic books provides valuable insights on the changes in customer shopping behaviour due to the prevalence of new technologies and the consequences for retailers. Furthermore, opportunities and limits of cross-channel retailing are critically examined following a customer-centric approach. Primary research is conducted to illustrate customers’ experience with Artificial Intelligence in the form of a chatbot implemented by an US apparel retailer. The thinking aloud method is used to gain insights into participants’ thought processes and to analyse the chatbot’s potential to replicate the experience offered in a physical store. Findings include that showrooms and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics and beacons may present an opportunity for retailers in the apparel industry, while privacy concerns, technology acceptance, demographics and firm-related challenges need to be taken into account.

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Author:Luisa Vogel
Advisor:Paul Taylor
Document Type:Bachelor Thesis
Year of Completion:2018
Granting Institution:Hochschule Furtwangen
Date of final exam:2018/02/15
Release Date:2018/02/28
Tag:Apparel industry; Channel integration; Cross-channel retailing; Customer behaviour; In-store technology
Degree Program:IBW - Internationale Betriebswirtschaft
Functional area:Marketing
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt