Internet Marketing Zappos.com analysis

Internet Marketing Zappos.com

Trust is a focal factor towards the establishment of loyalty and a long term relationship with customers. You are required to critically evaluate a business to consumer retailer’s website (http://www.zappos.com/) and identify the main drivers of online trust according to your experience (testing) of the website.
Introduction

The shifting nature of consumer behaviour integrated with the technological evolution of the internet that has necessitated the use of the internet as a medium of marketing has presented sufficient challenges to the marketer in terms of making the marketing experience add value to the interaction of the customer and the interface. Through building of long-term relationships, firms that have put their businesses online endeavour to build strong customer trust.

Drivers to online trust at zappos.com

There are a number of factors that have been identified as essential in building customer trust. The first of the drivers to building online trust and gaining loyalty from customers is the inclusion of what the customers know about the company. Awareness and recognition of the business is an important factor that the marketer has used to gain extra trust from the online users who either might be anonymous or may be within the customer list of the company’s regular customers. To have loyalty and trust from customers, the online marketer must find ways of engaging all the types of visitors and audience.  Without gaining the loyalty and trust from the regular customers and other visitors, it would be impossible for the online marketer to make any online sales.

Another driver that is evident in the body of literature is data accuracy. By ensuring that he information provided on the company website is accurate and verifiable, the marketer is able to garner trust from the customers and visitors and increase chances of making or registering online purchases. If the marketer puts information that neither the customers nor the marketer can trust or even extremely exaggerated information it can make the visitors to doubt the ability of the company to fulfil its promises and agreements. This as observed by Shah and Yasin (2010), includes updating the information on the site so that any obsolete information is removed from the site and new accurate data uploaded. In their study, Shah and Yasin (2010) identify three main categories of factors that drive customer trust in online business or brands. The first category comprises those factors that relate to web purchase. Under this category, there are factors that include customer privacy, security and good online experience among other intricate factors that customers consider when making online purchases or decisions to purchase. This category also comprises the quality of information availed to the customers and which is essential in making the buying decisions. Other purchase related factors include third party recommendations and this has become one of the many ways businesses are making their online customers market for them and increase trust from others. The Third Sector Foresight (Saskia 2010) reinforces the idea of security and privacy by arguing that there is no possibilities of separating online trust and identity since the two aspects encompass other complex aspects such as legislative and political issues. Moreover, Saskaia (2010) further identifies personal internet literacy as an important driver to the online trust. Using the approach and argument by Saskia, it would imply that a visitor would also develop trust in an online business based on the extent to which the customer or visitor understands the various online transactions, their implications and how much confidence the customer is able to build out of the interaction. Those who do not confidence in the online transactions and business deals are less likely to develop trust and loyalty to the online business transactions and presentations.

 

Specific Aspects:

The site has an easy navigation presentation that provides the visitor with easy access to the entire page and the when this is combined with the large centred slide presentation of the products, the visitor’s experience is boosted. The graphical presentation of the products on the site alongside the descriptions boosts the experience that makes the customer and visitor feel like they have just visited the onsite shop. Another driver for customer trust on the site is the use of customer sections where customers provide feedbacks on their experiences with the products of the company. This builds trust in the new visitor who might be a prospective client or buyer. For instance, a new client or visitor who comes to the site and goes through the customer comments can have a picture of what type of experience he or she expects from the products being offered. The information on the site is also updated on a regular basis making it updated. At the time of visiting the site last, on 10th December 2012, the site had been updated the same day (on 10/12/2012 at 15:26:09) hence increasing the ability to be trusted by visitors and customers. Updating site information is very important as seen in the literature review where Shah and Alam (2010) argue that keeping obsolete information on a website works only to discourage customer online trust. Another factor that strongly improved the experience and trust on the site is the internet literacy. For instance, when I went to the site, I quickly realised that the date and time of update of the information on the site was not directly available. For that reason, with determination to establish whether the information is up to date, I keyed in “javascript:alert(document.lastModified)” without the quotation marks into the address bar and got the information about the site update. This is identified in the literature review as a key factor in determining the extent to which customers are able to gain trust of online site based on how confident and informed they are about various aspects of internet technology.

Given that security and privacy is an important element of the online interaction, one of the drivers that enhance customer online trust on the site is the assurance that the site is secure and a better business to deal with. For that reason, as a prospective customer one scrolls down the page and sees the link to the Better Business Bureau and customer certification business rating agencies such as Customer Certified more trust is built. Moreover, association of the company with security savvy payment companies such as MasterCard and Paypal builds trust in the client to make online purchase because of the assurance of secure transactions. Developing trust is essential as supported by the transaction cost theory advanced and discussed by Urban et al (1998), who argue that as an essential dimension of value in the customer-business experience, trust when added to the internet can make business marketing activities successful. For that reason, the transaction cost theory supports all the identified factors on the ground that building trust among customers who visit the site helps Zappos.com to minimise costs in the long run. Another aspect of the transaction costs theory proposes that there are connections of the way the consumers are going to respond to lower costs of online transactions by connecting this low cost to the cost effectiveness and customer centred marketing endeavours. This point is even emphasised further by Thompsoin and Yu (2004) who posit that when consumers realise that the costs of transacting are low, they develop extra trust in the online business and increase their buying frequency. Nevertheless, the authors (Thompson & Yu 2004) integrate this concept of cost effectiveness with the dependability of the online site in providing what it claims and at the lowest cost possible.

This fact is emphasised by Shah and Yasin (2010), who observe that includes updating the information on the site so that any obsolete information is removed from the site and new accurate data uploaded. In their study, Shah and Alam (2010) identify three main categories of factors that drive customer trust in online business or brands. The first category comprises those factors that relate to web purchase. Under this category, there are factors that include customer privacy, security and good online experience among other intricate factors that customers consider when making online purchases or decisions to purchase. This category also comprises the quality of information availed to the customers and which is essential in making the buying decisions. Other purchase related factors include third party recommendations and this has become one of the many ways businesses are making their online customers market for them and increase trust from others.

In conclusion, http://www.zappos.com was found to possess online trust drivers that could broadly be categorised into three main groups or categories. The first category is the one comprising items like privacy and security of the transactions. Under these aspects of customer privacy and security, the site allows customers to comment or provide their feedback anonymously thereby ensuring that those who are concerned about their privacy or revealing any private information can provide their feedback anonymously. In addition, with respect to the security of the transactions, the site has links to trusted companies such as VISA MasterCard and PayPal. With the presence of stamps from certifying organisations such as BBB and Customer Certified Bizrate, the customer becomes more comfortable transacting with the company hence increase chances of making online purchases. There is also the right quality of information available for the customer to make the right decisions when intending to make purchases and this includes the prices and price changes, the product descriptions and the shipping information. And still on the quality and validity of the information on the site, the site has information that is regularly updated thereby making it current to warrant customer trust. Third party recommendations that fall under the first category related to the recommendations made by the customers who have already made purchases of the products stating their experiences with the various products. In other categories, easy navigation of the site and the fact it is simple to scroll together with the graphical presentation on the site boost the customer trust to do business with the business and make purchases.

Recommendations

While the business has done a lot to ensure that consumer trust in the online business is built to enhance the number of purchases made online by customers or visitors, there are a few recommendations that can boost the trust further and improve the success of the firm’s online marketing endeavours. The first recommendation is that the site should use identity management tools to boost the online privacy. This can save many visitors time and manage the profiles for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

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Ribbink, D., van Riel, A, Liljander, V. Steukens, S. (2004), “Comfort your online customer: quality, trust and loyalty on the internet”, Managing Service Quality, Vol. 14, No. 6, pp. 446-456

Saskia, R. (2010). Online trust and identity. Available: http://www.3s4.org.uk/drivers/online-trust. Last accessed 10th Dec 2012.

Shah, A S & Yasin, M N. (2010). What factors influence online brand trust: evidence from online tickets buyers in Malaysia. Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research. 5 (3), p78-89.

Thompson, S.H. T. & Yu, Y. (2004). Online buying behavior: a transaction cost economics perspective. Available: http://bschool.nus.edu/staff/bizteosh/TeoYuOmega2005TCE.pdf. Last accessed 10th Dec 2012.

Urban, G L. Sultan, F & William Q. (1998). TRUST BASED MARKETING ON THE INTERNET. Available: http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/2726/SWP-4035-42019876.pdf?sequence=1. Last accessed 10th Dec 2012.

Urban, G L., Sultan, F., Shankar, V & Bart, I Y. (2005). Are the Drivers and Role of Online Trust the Same for all Web Sites and Consumers? A Large Scale Exploratory Empirical Study. Available: http://ebusiness.mit.edu/research/papers/2005.04_Bart_Shankar_Sultan_Urban_Are%20the%20Drivers_217.pdf.. Last accessed 10th Dec 2012.

 

 


 

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