The Emerging Role of Digital Marketing and its Effects on the Customers’ Shopping Journey for Apparel

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The Emerging Role of Digital Marketing and its Effects on the Customers’ Shopping Journey for Apparel

Abstract

            This thesis proposes to study and conduct an investigation of the contemporary marketing strategy of digital marketing and its emerging role in the consumer shopping journey, with a focus on the UK market. Digital marketing facilitates marketers and consumers to exploit the advantage of interactive or two-way communication and get helpful information about user-generated content for buying processes and decisions. This study will investigate the apparel industry in particular because changing fashion results from celebrities’ inspiration and sharing of fashion blogs, reviews, and photos. Thus, the role of digital marketing in influencing customer shopping journeys for apparel will provide good knowledge about its direct effect on the shopping pattern. The shopping journey for apparel in the present time is not direct decision-making. At the same time, it starts with developing awareness via social marketing tools channels, search, and research. The flow of positive or negative post-experience and fast-fashion concepts due to digital marketing is an issue for fashion retailers in managing sales generation and profitability. This research will highlight the issue of the emerging role of digital marketing and the challenges that affect the shopping journey. The research aim and issue will be addressed by surveying 150 people, who live in the UK, to understand consumers’ shopping journeys and changes in their operational processes after the rise of digital channels. The costs and benefits of digital marketing as the effect on the shopping journey for apparel will be reviewed in this thesis through quantitative data and literature evidence support.

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1. Introduction

1.1 Background

In the last few years, digitization has led to altering consumer behavior trends and has motivated marketers to make radical shifts in marketing. Internet, smartphones, and the growing use of advanced technologies are the key drivers, as an outcome of which, contemporary organizations are progressively shifting their marketing activities from the traditional market to the digital market. Digital marketing is assisting organizations in understanding consumer behavior more effectively to enhance business expansion, globally (Gujrati and Uygun, 2020). In this regard, the research focuses on examining in detail the emerging role of digital marketing for marketers in the contemporary era, to examine its effects on the customers’ shopping journey.

The use of digital marketing platforms is increasing in the apparel industry. This industry is immensely competitive and thus digital marketing is regarded as a cost-effective solution for this industry. Through social media platforms, apparel companies can promote their products and easily reach the target audience. In the words of Cho & Son (2019), the use of social media platforms is increasing largely among customers, and thus digital marketing has improved to a great extent. Social media has entirely transformed the way through which brands market their products and connect with the audience. Social media provides effectiveness and room for growth for apparel companies. It brings several opportunities for apparel companies that increase the customer base and boost the sales of the companies. Approximately 80% of the users on Instagram follow a brand. 60% of the users discover a particular product through this platform and 30% of the users purchase the product (Hyport Digital, 2021). Thus, Instagram is largely used by apparel companies to influence the customer’s shopping journey.

As per the graph below, the use of e-commerce has largely increased in the fashion industry. In the year 2018, the use of e-commerce was about 27% in the fashion industry which stood at 38% in the year 2022 (Marketing Charts, 2018). In

The Emerging Role of Digital Marketing and its Effects on the Customers’ Shopping Journey for Apparel

Figure 1: Growth of e-commerce in the global fashion industry

(Source: Marketing Charts, 2018)

In the Covid-19 pandemic, apparel companies have embraced digital marketing strategies to remain connected with potential customers. Globally, internet users are increasing and marketers have a huge scope to directly reach customers through online platforms and influence their shopping journey. The behavior of consumers has largely changed and has become immensely streamlined with the transition from the traditional form of marketing to digital marketing.

In the words of Yin & Xu (2021), with easy access to the internet, the consumer conducts thorough research before purchasing any product from the apparel companies online. The majority of the brands market both their products and services online, thus it has become quite convenient for all consumers to research, compare, experiment with a product, and then make a purchasing decision. Consumers get the option to compare a product of a particular brand with the same product of another brand.  In this way, digital marketing influences the customer’s shopping journey in the context of the apparel industry.

With the emergence of digital marketing, apparel brands have the scope to build effective relationships with customers and offer them a proper understanding of the products and services. Moreover, the customers get exposed to a wide pool of products and information from the apparel brands. In the words of Dasgupta & Grover (2019), the majority of customers prefer quality products that can offer better value for their money. The three factors consumer engagement, discounts, and customer support can largely influence the purchase of consumers and enhance customer loyalty. Digital marketing empowers customers and provides them with personalized experiences to the customers. The purchases of consumers are largely motivated by digital marketing.

The Emerging Role of Digital Marketing and its Effects on the Customers’ Shopping Journey for Apparel
Figure 2: Spending of the companies in digital advertising

(Source: Oberlo, 2022)

As per the above graph, the spending of the companies has largely increased to a great extent in digital advertising. Digital word of mouth, which also includes influencer marketing, is largely followed by apparel companies. When a brand has an effective digital word of mouth, the trust of the customers towards the brand increases, and the rate of purchase also increases. For example, H&M uses influencer marketing to promote its products. H&M has tapped Instagram influencers to come up with the designs for its latest collection for customers (Sweeney, 2018). Approximately 93% of customers use digital word of mouth to decide on the purchase of a product (Ray, 2022).

1.2 Research Scope

The research has chosen an important issue and broad area to undertake research, as digital marketing has become a central theme of the contemporary marketing world. It plays a pivotal role in reducing the boundaries and enhancing the reach of organizations across the globe, along with offering wider customer insights (Singla, Bansal, and Singla, 2020). In this regard, the current research has selected the area of digital marketing to produce narrow findings on the effect of digital marketing on the customer shopping journey. However, the area is highly broad, to narrow down; the research is focused on examining the effects of digital marketing on the journey of customers shopping for apparel products.

1.2.1 Research Gap

            From the inductive literature review, good knowledge has been gained in the context of digital marketing and its effect on consumer shopping for apparel. It has been identified from the critical review of the existing scholars’ work that they did a rigorous data search on digital marketing in terms of critical variables involved in the conceptualization and varied areas of digital marketing defining its emerging role. The existing scholars’ work has also reflected changes in the consumer shopping journey, such as the role of touchpoints, interaction communication, and series of actions associated with shopping in the digital era. Existing studies have been exploring and presenting good digital marketing-related knowledge in a generalized and subjective context. However, in the narrow research context of the apparel firms, existing studies are not widely explored; related topics such as the role of the digital marketing sector would have been explored more to present changes in the shopping journey for apparel as the effect of digital marketing growing trend. The apparel industry is not widely described in the study and it is mentioned that in the early research, no specific considerations were used to take steps by the effects of the industry. Thus, the research gap is made by the fact to display the industrial importance of the specific considerations. Special needs of customers such as “try-on mode” in VR or AR, product types, and many other facilities are not described in the study. Thus, these facilities are described in this research to enumerate the substances of the study. Informational needs such as sustainability, prevalence, and distribution structures such as indirect and direct sales are also to be disclosed in the study. It is also to be mentioned that the apparel industry is affected due to COVID-19 and this may cause direct support by the effects of maintaining the continuance. However, this pandemic has caused to implementation of more digital technologies to meet the effects of COVID-19. The example of different apparel brands and their comparative study will be presented in this proposed study to present the role of digital marketing. The existing research was more theoretical or subjective and has not extensively covered evidence-based data on topics such as apparel firms operating across the UK and global markets. This thesis will consider this as the research gap for further work.

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1.2.2 Research Objective

Aim:

The research aims to examine the emerging role of digital marketing, to examine its effects on the customers’ shopping journey, with a focus on the UK market. The examination of effects of digital marketing on customers’ shopping journeys aimed to be examined in the apparel industry. In light of the aim, the research focuses on addressing the following research objectives:

  • To study the emerging role of digital marketing in the contemporary era
  • To evaluate the importance of “try-on mode” through VR/AR in the apparel industry
  • To access the changes in distribution structure and its impact on the apparel industry
  • To review the changes in customer buying behavior and customer journey in this modern era
  • To recommend effective strategies for strengthening influential marketing in the UK

The objectives are specifically designed in light of the research aim. Attaining the objectives would benefit the marketers in strengthening the digital marketing landscape, using which, they can obtain better insights into customers, tap effectively the targeted customer base, and positively influence the customer shopping journey towards buying the apparel. The research findings on addressing the objectives will explain the effects of distinct digital marketing tools and their effectiveness in influencing positively the customer’s journey, which would be highly beneficial for the marketers of the apparel industry to gain insights on the tools and the most optimal tools to influence the customer shopping journey effectively in the apparel firms.

1.2.3 Research Questions

In light of the literary evidence gained on the topic, and aims and objectives constructed to fill the identified gaps in the existing base of studies, the researcher seeks to address a range of questions and focus on the following:

RQ1: How the digital marketing emerging in the apparel industry?

RQ2: What is the importance of “try-on mode” in the apparel industry that is regulated by VR or AR?

RQ3: How can the distribution structure be accessed through the changing aspects and what are the impacts of such changes?

RQ4: How can the customer journey and customer buying behavior be reviewed?

RQ5: What are the strategies to maintain influential marketing in the UK?

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1.3 Relevance of the Thesis

In the contemporary business world, digital marketing development is examined to entirely alter the scenario of marketing, enabling organizations to promote their brands at the global level. Digital marketing has become highly relevant to assist marketers in targeting the right set of audiences and attracting them to the products or services being marketed (Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick, 2019). It is mentioned that the apparel industry is the focused topic in this study. However, it is mentioned that the “try-on mode” is also required to be considered as the specific characteristic of the purchasing style. This mode is maintained in a way to delivers the exigencies by the fact considering the importance of Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality. Thus, this is the specific consideration that has been focused on in the study. The availability of a wide range of digital marketing tactics and channels, and their significance of them to organizations and customers have made the study on the chosen topic, highly relevant. Also, limited evidence on digital marketing and its impact on the customer shopping journey has been gathered for the apparel industry, producing findings that could be useful for future academicians, researchers, and marketers of apparel companies (Vieira et al., 2019).

1.4 Thesis Organization

The Emerging Role of Digital Marketing and its Effects on the Customers’ Shopping Journey for Apparel

Figure 2: Spending of the companies in digital advertising

(Source: Created by developer)

Outline of methodology

In this thesis paper, both primary and secondary sources have been considered to collect the qualitative as well as quantitative data through survey questionnaires and other secondary sources such as journal articles, websites, reports, etc. Therefore, mixed methods of data analysis have been conducted here, where survey findings have been critically discussed with the help of secondary data through the development of various themes under thematic analysis.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Emerging Role of Digital Marketing

Alghizzawi (2019) highlights the emergence of digital marketing and discusses its wider roles in the field of marketing. In this regard, the findings of the study reveal that through social media platforms, advanced mobile technologies, and even e-word of mouth, digital media has emerged as an integral part of global lives and serves as a new and effective means of marketing and communication. It is, however, a recent development and can be attributed to the impact of intense international competition on various sectors through new technology. These developments have motivated customers to change their purchase behavior and thinking wherein they can explore more touchpoints in comparison to the traditional platforms, tools, and media used in marketing and advertising (Singla, Bansal, and Singla, 2020). The revolutionary developments in the technology used to communicate with customers and the higher dependence and usage of technological tools and digital devices show that modern-day customers need more advanced and innovative tools and media to attract their attention and communicate with them. Access and potential to incorporate advanced technology to offer larger benefits and involvement of relevant tools and media to gain the attention of present-day customers offer the most effective fertile soil for the growth and expansion of digital marketing for companies (Alghizzawi, 2019).

The primary goal of digital marketing is to invite customers and motivate them to interact with the brand, along with its attributes and positioning with the help of digital media. The consistent advancements in information technology have made digital marketing a form of technology without many limitations. Modern-day organizations can use tools from tablets to laptops, smartphones, mobile phone applications, digital billboards, and other media such as social media networks and search engine optimization (SEO) to market and produce their goods and services not only in domestic but also in the global markets (Agrawal and Verma, 2019).

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From the viewpoint of Sonavane (2021), digital marketing requires very little upfront cost, and small enterprises will benefit greatly from this. The majority of digital marketing solutions provide basic functions for free, and it is up to enterprises to make the most of these opportunities. The impact of Internet marketing is worldwide; as a result, a business may accept orders for their products and services from all across the globe, rather than just one region. Even if businesses go worldwide, they may still target a certain group of people; as a result, this is a win-win situation. The value of digital marketing resides in the broad reach that it achieves among a large target population, and aspects like brand recognition are significant. When consumers are unfamiliar with the brand, they are not easily converted; therefore brand exposure is critical to combat this. One may truly attract people to their small business by using pay-per-click as well as other types of paid marketing. According to Alam, Wang, and Waheed (2019), small firms have the issue of establishing a consumer base. This is centered on establishing a strong relationship with customers and developing a connection. Companies could easily handle these using CRM systems like HubSpot as well as Oracle. Big enterprises have slightly different issues. Businesses must contribute to brand reputation, customer retention, as well as company growth to maintain an established business. The image of a well-established organization is crucial. A business’s brand image may be made or broken by the correct advertising techniques. Digital marketing allows for the creation of effective campaigns as well as the fast correction of any flaws. In the same relation, as per Goldman et al. (2021), big businesses may get real-time, quantifiable outcomes with digital marketing. Companies may then assess the campaign’s efficacy as well as design tactics appropriately. The importance of data analysis in today’s world is critical for evaluating the efficacy as well as the profitability of the initiatives. The fact that outcomes and KPIs are measurable is a big part of why digital marketing is so important. By engaging in advertisements as well as driving conversions, businesses may improve their revenues from digital media. Apart from boosting revenue, the major purpose of digital marketing for large firms is to ensure their consumer base is loyal as well as pleased. These are compelling reasons to believe that digital marketing is critical for organizations, as well as that they should consider incorporating it into business strategy. Going for digital marketing workplace training is a sensible as well as a solution-based alternative.

Yasmeen, Tasneem, and Fatema (2015) offer more detailed insights regarding the role of digital marketing and discuss them in the context of the customers and their role for the customers. In this regard, the findings of this article reveal that digital marketing tools and approaches facilitate customers in staying updated with the new products and services or changes introduced in a company. Moreover, easy and cost-effective accessibility to the Internet has motivated businesses to use these tools to reach customers and stay in touch with them consistently. Similarly, Ghazie and Dolah (2018) reviewed the impact of digital marketing on consumer behavior as the use of several social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter guide organizations in establishing a quality relationship with customers by identifying their needs and meeting the requirements. The creative marketing department of the firm develops appealing advertisements for the customers to gain their attention and increase their awareness of the given product. The advertisements created by the organizations induce curiosity among the customers to choose/purchase the given product, thereby influencing their purchasing behavior.

According to the study by Garg, Bansal, and Singla (2020), digital marketing is crucial not only for gaining greater market share for a product but also for interacting with the customers and determining their purchasing behavior of the products. The consumers of various products find digital marketing beneficial in resolving their challenges and providing them with accurate information regarding a product or a service. With the advancement in digital technological platforms, digital marketing has guided firms to minimize their expenses and provide a competitive edge in the market. The decision-making process of the customers involves several steps such as recognizing the need to purchase a given product, searching for the details, analyzing any alternatives for the given product, purchasing decisions for the customers, and post-purchase decisions. Digital marketing has considerably reduced the efforts and time required for gathering information about a product as compared to traditional marketing methods that require a considerable amount of time in having discussions with the stakeholders and officials of a company (Garg, Bansal, and Singla, 2020).  The emergence of digital advertising can be gauged from the views of the Statista Research Department (2022), revealing advertising as the most utilized form of media to target users. Advertising spending is examined to increase constantly, but with the constant advancement of technology and changing consumer preferences, the Internet has become the key medium of advertising for advertisers. Internet accounts for 51 percent of total ad spending on media, which has provided a substantial rise in digital advertising. The findings recently reported by Statista Research Department (2022a) have revealed that digital marketing has become an indispensable tool for marketing and promotion in the recent past. Across the globe, organizations are rapidly embracing digitalization and the rapid changes in consumer behavior by constantly switching from traditional to dynamic digital channels. This adoption is examined as highly advanced in the United Kingdom mainly, which is reported as the largest market for digital ads in Europe, and the leading spender of digital advertising, worldwide. In 2021, the spending on digital ads reached 602.25 billion USD worldwide, and in the UK, the spending on digital ads is reported at 15.57 billion GBP with the total media ad spend. In addition to this, Guttmann (2022) has reported that a recent survey undertaken among the marketing leaders of the UK has revealed that digital marketing spending in profit-seeking companies was projected to rise by 28.29 percent in the coming 12 months, in comparison to a prior full year.

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2.2 Specifics of the apparel industry

In recent days, the role of advertisements plays a vital character in marketing. The importance of advertisement is to maintain the customers’ choice properly. Thus, the advertisement is made by the influencers to attract customers. It is mentioned that the important notes of the apparel industry are influenced by the manner to be practiced by the influencers. The role of influencers is most vital in advertisements and this may hold to be most effective for influencing the customers on certain products (Bharti, 2021). This is a marketing strategy of the companies to improve the attraction of customers. It is also important to discuss the perfect views of the industrial impacts and this is to mention that this marketing strategy is a continuing process in this modern era.

Social media is flooded by this type of influencer who shows the importance part of attracting customers. Thus, the role of influencers in the marketing strategy for a company is mentioned as a specific consideration in the apparel industry. For example, if a customer searches ‘crop top’ on the internet, there will be thousands of advertisements with various styles (Nurfadila, 2020). The influencers also present the style by wearing the apparel and thus it becomes more attractive to the customers. However, it is also pertinent to mention that customers often get confused by observing various advertisements and some do not purchase the product upon getting confused.

There are specific characteristics to maintain marketing in the apparel industry. It is mentioned that the characteristics help the consideration to maintain the specific performance and this is mentioned that the characteristics are intended to evolve the digitalisation in the industry such as “try-on-mode”. Fashion is the other name of innovation and thus apparel industry is maintained in a way to deliver the contingencies of the technologies. Fashion is cyclical and forward-looking in a manner to extinguish the consideration properly (Wijewardhana et al. 2020). It is important to know that technology is increasing in the apparel industry and “try-on mode” is one of the perfect considerations in the industry. VR or AR dressing rooms are trending in the market in recent days so the important part of controlling the contingencies is delivered in the part.

Technology is increasing in the apparel industry and it is mentioned that not only dressing rooms of AR or VR technology is affected in the industry, but it is also mentioned that virtual goods and smart fabrics are also emerging technologies for the apparel industry. However, it is known that the important part prefers these technologies to be delivered in the exigencies of the industry (Lee & Xu, 2020). The technology of smart fabrics is to deliver the temperature-changing perspective that helps the industry to become more digitalized. The specific importance to return the specialized job in the industry is to maintain the exigencies of the current powers. A high level of returns in the industry is not inevitable. The industry must practice better management in this sector to improve the loyalty of consumers and reduce costs.

The growth in online purchases has distributed the important factors in the way customers purchase in a risk-free zone and evaluate the product after delivery. If the customers do not fit in size or style is not attractive then they can return the product. However, this is an important part to consider the exigencies and thus the companies may consider loss (Kaushik et al. 2020). Thus, return management must be better in the apparel industry due to the subscription of the important factors. However, it is also important to mention that the power of the technologies is specified in a manner to extinguish the industrial concept. It is evident that American consumers also returned goods of 428 billion dollars in 2020 which is a return rate of 10.6%.

In the “McKinsey Return Management Survey”, it has been seen that before the pandemic, the return rate was 25% in the apparel industry it has increased to 35% in 2020. Thus, better management of returns is required in the apparel industry. However, customers find it very loyal on the part of the companies, and thus online purchases have increased to a large extent in the apparel industry (Guo et al. 2020). The performance of the industry is distributed and thus the important factor in introducing generous return policies is favorable for the industry. The return rate of the products has indeed increased but it must also to kept in mind that online purchasing has also increased in this era. Therefore, the return rate can be considered by the purchase and it can be seen that the companies are profitable by implementing generous returning policies.

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2.3 Concepts of the Customer Shopping Journey

Folstad, Kvale & Halvorsrud (2014) shed light on the concept of customer journeys and explain that they have been used since the early 1990s to describe services from the customers’ perspective. Consequently, there is also an absence of a stable definition and terminologies relevant to customer journeys. It further elaborates on the concept of the customer journey as a process that the customers follow to attain a particular goal and includes one or more service providers. Customer journeys can be detailed and include interactions or touchpoints between the customers and the service providers (Folstad, Kvale&Halvorsrud, 2014). In a similar context, Ozuem, Howell, and Lancaster (2008) demonstrated consumer shopping journey in the current process is quite complex and different from the traditional process because it is not the only eventual outcome of the advertisement and promotion using traditional channels. Tupikovskaja-Omovie and Tyler (2020) further elaborate on these findings and explain that customers have an extensive range of options for shopping channels to individualize their customer journey. Such customer journeys are demonstrated as a lens for examining services as people do. Marketing professionals agree that customer journeys are emerging as highly significant components in consumer behavior research, and evaluating an effective customer journey design is crucial in determining and understanding consumer behavior (Tupikovskaja-Omovie and Tyler, 2020). The customer shopping journey in the era of digital marketing is now extended from mere marketer’s communication about product or service information to the consumers’ experience shared in the form of stories, posts, and ratings.

Consumer shopping is a sequential process that initiates product or service awareness based on marketers’ and consumers’ information shared via social media or digital channels that involve searching and research activities. Finalizing buying decisions and post-purchase or perceived experience sharing are also key activities of the consumer shopping journey. Hamilton and Price (2019) described the customer experience as a consumer shopping journey that involves the entire procedure from selecting products or services to final buying decisions. In the present time, the consumer shopping journey starts with engagement with current users or perceived users to access their experience in online or physical store shopping. The shopping journey is based on “touch points” that are based on multiple activities. The consumer shopping journey is not only limited to the marketers’ search but also involves social media engagement with current customers and comparison shopping. It has been analyzed that interaction is a critical component in the consumer shopping journey that embraces other existing or current consumer interactions and specific/particular brand retailers and their competing retailers. Hall, Towers, and Shaw (2017) demonstrated that better communication through mobile or smartphone devices changes the consumer shopping journey because it influences the buying process from digital data or information search to the final buying transaction of consumers. In the digital era, the shopping journey is not only based on the marketers’ commercial advertisements but social media platforms are preferred in the shopping journey. User-generated social media content is referred to as shopping ideas, inspiration, and final buying decisions. It has been indicated that shopping behavior and journey in the digital age involve technology-based communication and buying options evaluation based on the information available on social media channels (Hall, Towers, and Shaw, 2017).

Dasgupta and Grover (2019) explain that one of the most critical areas in the context of consumer behavior is consumer decision-making. The complexity of their decisions depends on the perception of the product and its comparison with the other products in terms of prices and quality. The consumer purchase journey involves several stages, and several theories and models have been proposed by academicians and marketers (Dasgupta and Grover, 2019). The study explains a 5-stage model proposed by Cox (1983) and is believed to be a model for consumer decision-making demonstrating the traditional consumer purchase journey. The model has high preciseness and clarity because it concentrates on the motivational factors that affect consumer purchase decisions. The determination of an unsatisfied need is dependent on personal and situational factors.

Moreover, psychological needs emerge from emotional feelings, while physical needs originate out of necessity (Dasgupta and Grover, 2019). In the competitive world, marketers must gain and develop knowledge about the consumer journey and the factors affecting it. The consumer shopping journey is not the only ultimate decision of market-related factors, but it is also influenced by psychological elements, including emotional, behavioral, cognitive, social, and sensorial. It has been generalized that the consumer shopping journey is a complex concept as it affects marketers’ planning and sales. The stages of the consumer shopping journey mainly involve “pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase”. Culture has been explored in this study as the critical component of the consumer journey that also influences the final buying decision. The consumer journey is based on thinking style. Thus, it has been analyzed that marketers need to be focused on brand extensions to influence buying based on brand positioning and loyalty as a whole (Shavitt and Barnes, 2020).

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2.4 Effect of Digital Marketing on the Customer Shopping

Pre-purchase

Consumers search the information about any product when they need some product. Thus, the research is maintained in a manner to performs the contingencies regarding the product. The product is to be purchased by the consumer and thus small research on the information is required before purchasing the product (Abbasi, 2021). This behavior of the consumer is known as the pre-purchase stage. This research is made to make the right decision in choosing the product. The information that the consumer fetches from the research is:

  • Product alternatives
  • Product Quality
  • Product variations
  • Product brands

The consumer may research various other aspects of the product by considering the age, sex, and educational qualification of the consumers. The product’s acceptance, risk, and price are also considered by the fact to deliver the proper product.

Search activities

The search activities of the customers relating to the information of the products are of various types, such as

Specific- These types of search activities are directly related to the issues. A specific kind of activity thus requires immediate assistance.

Ongoing- Most consumers keep on searching for information about the products that they intend to buy. Thus, the important part of maintaining the products in search is related to the continuous process of gathering information (Bizuneh, Hailemariam & Tsegaye, 2021). This stage shows that the purchasing is in work of progress.

Incidental- Sometimes the information can be gathered incidentally by normal random research. This type of search activity is unintentional and the consumers get to know the information accidentally and get attracted.

There are two different sources from where the information can be gathered by the consumers:

Internal sources- This source is continued by the consumer. The internal sources are by the fact that help them to recall the information in their memory.

External sources- Now, the information on interpersonal communication also includes digital technologies. Friends and families are the external environmental sources that also come from the sources.

Purchase

Purchasing a product comes after the pre-purchase stage and by the fact, that it may deliver the contingencies with the respective communication. After gathering information, the customer decides to purchase the product according to the requirement and upon researching the risks or pricing accommodation. This needs to be delivered by the customer upon starting the purchase of the same products (Sharma, 2021). The important part of maintaining the purchase is to increase the knowledge of the product. After all the contingencies, the customer purchases the product.

Post-purchase

After purchasing, there is another stage that delivers the post-purchase stage in the purchasing behavior of the customers. The experiences and the behaviors of the customer that follow the purchase are the post-purchase behaviors. Sometimes, the customers may regret their purchasing and this experience hurts their purchasing behaviors of the customers. The important part of delivering the contingencies is to be maintained in the manner that occurs after the purchase of any products (Nittala & Moturu, 2021). However, it is to be mentioned that this negative experience of the customer takes place because of mainly attractiveness of alternatives, good performance of the alternatives, and availability of alternatives.

Thus, the alternatives are the main reason that the customers may regret. However, if the customers observe that their product is running smoother than the alternatives then they get an assertive experience. Hence, it is evident that the important part of delivering the exigencies of the simultaneous part of the controversy is to be delivered in a manner that may have a positive impact on the post-purchase stage (Tata, Prashar & Parsad, 2020). The customers get post-purchase dissonance due to this activity and present the allowance of the same. They sometimes return or exchange the product to reduce their post-purchase dissonance. Therefore, it can be stated that the post-purchase dissonance is covered by the fact that delivers the exigencies in the purchasing behaviors.

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From the viewpoint of Linzbach, Inman, and Nikolova (2019), digital marketing enhances the shopping journey of customers by providing huge comfort of easy navigation and selecting a product of their own choice. Customers can easily use the keywords to search the products, and the products are quickly displayed. Due to this, customers quickly select the product and can view all the details about the product easily. Besides this, customers have complete liberty to compare the products from different sites by viewing product images and details before shopping. Digital marketing provides scope for easy comparison that provides convenience to the customers as they can compare prices and quality of different products, thereby positively impacting the shopping experience. In addition to this, Kushwaha (2020) determined that digital marketing has a positive effect on the shopping journey of customers as it provides a personalized experience to the customers that develops transparent and powerful relations between the firm and customers. Moreover, customers have great liberty to evaluate the reviews, which helps in empowering the customers and motivates them to make a rational purchase decision. The empowerment and interaction through digital marketing increase customer loyalty as the firm often communicates with customers, which has a positive impact. Furthermore, Kitsioset al. (2021) examined that the quick services of digital marketing help the customer to shop easily and also offer a wide range of products that increase customer satisfaction. Customers feel highly satisfied because they have the ease of shopping from their comfort places without visiting physical stores. Moreover, digital marketing offers different touchpoints for providing the comfort of shopping to customers, thereby increasing online sales. However, Stone and Woodcock (2014) highlighted that many times firms fail to consider the feedback and needs of customers, which severely affects their shopping experience, and they feel less acknowledged. Besides this, delays in the delivery of products can also exhaust the customers, which acts as a drawback for digital marketing. According to Cain (2022), the impact of digital marketing on customer behavior is causing companies to modify their digital marketing approach and strategy in 2021, as well as conventional firms realized how embracing digital is no longer a choice. Digital marketing has had a significant impact on consumer behavior in that the typical consumer, who once visited the first store who came through, is now researching products online a day before visiting a physical store, reading the reviews from other consumers, comparing the prices, delivery options, as well as similar items. Understanding as well as evaluating consumers’ behavior involves looking at how they behave while making purchases, how their customer journey unfolds, how they use and discard products and services, and how their feelings, opinions, as well as preferences, influence their purchasing decisions. From the viewpoint of Wolny and Charoensuksai (2014), digital marketing has had a significant effect on consumer behavior these typical consumers, who once visited the first retail outlet those who came through, are now researching products online the day before visiting a physical store, reading the reviews from other consumers, comparing prices, delivery options, as well as related items. With their demands for speedy, excellent services doubling as a result of technology improvements, consumers have become increasingly more restless. Through online forums as well as customer evaluations, they were exposed to actual, truthful feedback on goods and services. It is unfitting to have outdated services and facilities.

In the view of Anderl, Schumann, and Kunz (2016), consumers anticipate companies to respond to their inquiries as soon as possible. Customers voice their annoyance on public forums when they do not receive what was provided, which hurts a brand’s online image. Their purchase decisions are significantly influenced by the abundance of information people discover thanks to digital marketing. From the perspective of Vieira et al. (2019), Companies are now expected to provide informative material on their commodities, write in-depth product information, and explain all elements of the things they offer to stay relevant in cutthroat marketplaces. Customer behavior is significantly influenced by artificial intelligence, which should not be disregarded. It is a potent tool that gives users the power to decide more wisely. Digital marketing is driven by the effectiveness and viability that technology like artificial intelligence offers. Since businesses that utilize, AI are better equipped to market their goods and services than those that do not, artificial intelligence would likely have a substantial impact on customer behavior.

The research study conducted by Klein et al., (2020), with the help of secondary data, identified that due to the continuously expanding digital revolution, many consumers now utilize social media, smartphones, apps, and other devices to research and interact with companies. That has been hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has compelled many to live online since they have been unable to leave their homes for periods. Even though Amazon as well as other large e-commerce sites has been around for a while now, it has only been in the last two or three years that e-commerce sales as a percentage of traditional retail have increased significantly. Along with the Covid-19 outbreak, several companies were compelled to transition to online sales as the more conventional brick-and-mortar establishments had to close as a result of government regulations. According to Herhausen et al., (2019), this witnessed a sharp rise in the number of e-commerce companies and websites launched or funded through digital marketing. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) channels for e-commerce enterprises have grown competitive yet very profitable. The same could be true for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), with online retailers spending more on digital marketing during peak visitor times. Technology has radically changed how consumers behave when making decisions by enabling them to precisely evaluate a good or service. While customers will continue to go through the stages of awareness, deliberation, conversion, and assessment, the trip itself has altered, according to the KPMG Global Online Consumer Report (2017). There is no longer a straight road to buy since customers alternate between the stages, impacted by both online and offline influences. The research study conducted by Guerreiroetal (2019), with the help of secondary data, identified that the ongoing nature of decision-making is a benefit of digital marketing. Social retargeting reintroduces customers to items in which they have previously expressed interest when they visit other websites after leaving theirs. These kinds of digital marketing techniques change how customers act by allowing them to get involved at any stage of a journey. Marketing professionals may interact in a customized way using digital footprints to increase engagement. Consumer choice journeys can be actively shaped by brand digital marketing. Experiences may be improved and made more worthwhile by focusing on four key factors.

Unit 708 – Strategic Marketing

In the perspective of Hoyer et al. (2020), Complex and perplexing client experiences can be automated using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP). Consumer buying behavior may be predicted and influenced by rule-based algorithms. For instance, the Amazon suggestion algorithm is in charge of showing clients things they had no idea they desired. By only displaying marketing efforts to people that are pertinent to them, data may enhance marketing initiatives. Consumer behavior may constantly be influenced by contextual interactions in digital marketing. For instance, mass mailing to a whole database is a common practice in conventional communications. Digital marketing initiatives can react to interaction and possibly have a one-to-one impact on customers. In the outlook of Reinartz, Wiegand, and Imschloss (2019), brands have the chance to deepen their engagement with customers thanks to a circular customer journey as well as continuing technological innovation. Digital channels can cause behavioral changes several times throughout a single journey since there are various touchpoints. With the option to buy with a single click thanks to digital marketing, the buyer journey is simpler overall, but interactions have grown. According to Cain (2022), reading reviews, viewing videos, visiting many websites, and seeking suggestions are all part of the buyer journey. Instead of the other way around, consumers will tell businesses what they think of their products and help them improve them. Their actions affect companies planned course of action. They go down the right funnel and toward the checkout when the experience is improved to reflect what customers say. In terms of customer behavior, 40% of Millennials say they connect with a bot every day, and 35% of consumers will now utilize chatbots to solve issues or obtain in-depth responses. Digital marketers who do not make the necessary investments in new technologies risk losing a significant portion of their target audience.

From the perspective of Wolny and Charoensuksai (2014), digital voice assistants will be included in 4.2 billion devices worldwide by the year 2020. Customers may communicate with companies more easily thanks to digital marketing, as well as studies suggest that customers increasingly prefer to do so. To take into consideration the shift in customer attitudes toward speech technology, brands have a big chance to improve their websites as well as advertisements. The research study conducted by Klein et al. (2020), with the help of secondary data, identified that a few are even enabling voice commands for purchases, and it would not be long until that becomes more commonplace, just like online technologies did before. In the quickly changing digital age, change is inevitable. Building relationships with customers by using their language and being where they want them to be is the foundation of marketing. Big companies like Amazon have a very high bar for small firms to meet. The standard rather than the exception today is personalized product suggestions, targeted email marketing, free delivery (Amazon Prime), custom offers, reviews, as well as social media. Those that do not change to meet the changing needs of the customer will swiftly fall behind the competitors.

In Wolny and Charoensuksai’s (2014) studies, the ORCA model is used to identify the mechanism of customers’ shopping journeys. This model demonstrates that customers refer to various stages for analyzing the relevance of the purchases they will carry out. Similarly, multiple endpoints are checked by the customers before purchasing the products. The customers follow several steps to check the shopping process and then make a particular decision. The customers gather information from the websites of the firms that supply the product. In the current age of digital marketing, customers have shown creative skills in assessing the multiple facts of the products before purchasing them. Customers have searched the firms’ websites to determine the products’ credibility. Similarly, customers get highly involved in checking the authenticity of the firms engaging in digital marketing campaigns. Kim et al. (2010) justified that those customers have shown increased curiosity for assessing the firms’ pricing strategy. Moreover, customers are increasingly boosting personal plans for purchasing the products of the concern that they have seen in the digital marketing campaigns. It has facilitated the customers in knowing the exact time to purchase the product. This distinguishes the customers’ needs and makes them influence the firms’ decisions in its presentation and addition to its features.

            According to Adamik and Nowicki (2019), in the current age of digitization, firms operate mainly to impress customers’ emotions by using the brand names of top apparel companies such as Nike and Adidas. Various firms have observed a decline in sales because of the negative physical impressions of the tag and brand names. This has impacted the customer traffic to the physical and online stores of the apparel firms. Similarly, Duarte et al. (2018) reflected that e-WOM practices have also affected brand performance. Firms that have faced negative reviews from customers face reduced traffic of the customers. However, it is argued that e-WOM practices have positively impacted the brand performance of various firms by promoting effective customer response in online and offline modes of marketing.

EBUS301 E-BUSINESS MODELS AND STRATEGY SAMPLE

2.5 Theoretical Evidence to Explain Customer Shopping Journey

2.5.1 Theory of Acceptance

From the viewpoint of Bag et al. (2021), customer engagement via social media is an extraordinary tool that digital marketers use to enable customers to express their feelings via comments on posts. With digital media platforms, customers have quickly responded to the firms’ advertisements. Thus, it can be stated that the theory of acceptance aligns with the customers’ behavior of shopping as customers in recent days are more engaged in social media advertisements. The use of technology is the main perspective in the era of communication as online purchases are also increasing. Therefore, the theory shows the aspect of maintaining the perspectives in a manner to deliver the contingencies of recent times. The main aim of these firms is to evoke purchase impulse in the customers.

In this context, Voorveldet al. (2018) agreed that different firms use separate social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram to highlight their products. The way of enhancing the interaction of the customers differs among these platforms. Firms usually make discretional use of these choices to monitor the customers’ attitudes in a certain way. This move has identified the firms’ ideation about the tastes and preferences of the customers by having them read their reviews. Therefore, firms have a chance to make changes in various facets of the product or even change the interface of technology to enlighten the customers through new techniques of product awareness. Bag et al. (2021) also reflected that using artificial intelligence has increased customer engagement in the shopping journey. This has been possible by using augmented reality in advertising products. It influences the customers’ sociological and psychological behaviors and fosters their immediate response to the products.

An essential role of digital marketing is that it has helped fabricate content so that firms can avail new patterns in product design and segmentation. Moreover, firms use SEOs and SEMs that foster web development for marketing their products. Similarly, Khraim (2015) justified that to increase the sales of the products, firms use these digital marketing tools to enhance the customers’ reach through effective on-page and off-page settings. In this regard, customers only need to write a few words in search of the products and only tap on the suggestions. The customers’ experiences become more vivid by following the digital mobile applications of the firms for purchasing the conceived products. For improving website traffic, firms use backlinks on the on-page setup to make customers oriented with new types of products that are identically the by-products of the existing product.

2.5.2 Stimulus-Organism-Response Theory

Wu and Li (2018) emphasized that digital marketing firms use the stimulus organism response theory to attract the customers’ intentions of their digital performance. It is used to evaluate the external response of the customers by tracking their external environment through the information on the web analytics system of the firms that use digital marketing. This theory uses external environmental factors as stimuli to motivate customers to purchase unique products on a particular occasion. Thus, it engages customers with firms by producing favorable content about the latest developments. It motivates the customers by providing additional products on their purchases. Similarly, utilitarian customers are offered products at discounted rates that suffice their repurchase intent. This way, digital marketing impacts the purchase intention of the different types of customers.

According to Wadera and Sharma (2018), an essential phase of the Stimuli Organism Response theory is that it helps hedonic and utilitarian customers with on-the-spot deals on their favorite products. In the context of hedonic customers, firms with exclusive offers on the products are selling nature. Similarly, this theory facilitates the digital marketing firm to know about the repurchase intent of the customers and the degree of customer satisfaction by using specific digital marketing tools such as on-page and off-page settings supported by backlinks. This can be understood from the random indications of the firms that tend to inform customers about the new products available with the firms at cheap rates. However, in this regard, Verhoef et al. (2021) argued that firms often suffer losses due to increasing the operational performance of the business. As such, firms should use emotional tones in highlighting their products digitally.

Unit 724 – Development as a Strategic Manager

2.5.3 Marketing Attribution Theory

From the perspective of Buhalis and Volchek (2021), marketing attribution theory signifies the value of marketing nodes, including communication as the central part. The marketing nodes identify the critical points in customers’ journeys. Marketing communication is the first node that involves messaging the targeted customers through a specific digital media mode. For example, text messages, videos, face-to-face conversations, and email are used to enhance customer awareness and improve their response. The distribution system is another node that includes a direct interaction of the customers with the products. Websites, email services, search engines, digital marketing platforms, online chats, phones, people, shops, and billboards are examples of the direct interactive session of the customers with the products. These marketing communication channels are run by the firms’ digital agents and monitored. Similarly, Bonett and Perry (2017) extended that conversion is another method that includes a reservation, offline shop visit, and brochures to actively change the customers’ mood with the firms’ digital performance. It is followed by an assessment of the customer’s responses to the previously used digital marketing tools. It analyses the effectiveness of investments in digital marketing tools. Lastly, the marketing attribution node helps give individual values to all the nodes so their performance can be improved in future marketing campaigns.

According to Buhalis and Volchek (2021), the marketing attribution theory reflects a unique quality of digital marketing operations. It emphasizes that the methods of highlighting the product with its features depend upon the effectiveness of every step added to advertise the product shown above. Also, choosing the best digital media platform is essential to increase the reach of the product across a broader customer base. Therefore, it aims to create a competitive environment for firms indulging in digital marketing campaigns. In a particular context, this theory is based on a specific principle: customer motivation and personalization. These principles ensure customers have preferences that depend upon their social, demographic, and economic interests. Apart from this, culture and beliefs also impact the customers’ purchase intention.

2.5.4 Customer Satisfaction Theory

In the words of Lemon and Verhoef (2016), the customer satisfaction theory explains that customers’ journeys for purchases depend upon the customers’ happiness on the firms’ performance. It encompasses all the benefits firms provide in customers’ shopping through digital marketing or in-store shopping. This theory establishes the needs and preferences of the customers through conscious and unconscious perceptions of the customers. Customer-journey consistency incorporates the significance of customer experience and loyalty with the firms’ service quality. These elements are considered the engines of firms’ performance as firms operate only to ensure customers’ satisfaction with better shopping journeys.

According to Oliver (2014), communication consistency draws on the relevance of the services through effective patterns in the delivery of products and services. It reflects the frequency of firms’ digital agents’ messaging with the customers over the products they purchase or are about to purchase. It is viewed that customer satisfaction theory focuses on providing technical help to customers. The resolutions on cost and the service performance of the firms’ retail stores impact customer satisfaction in the long run. Similarly, customers develop attitudes on the communication level of the firms’ digital agents that control the application of the customers online, either for orders or for grievances. Therefore, substantial negative chances exist in this practice of firms that use digital marketing as the primary motivator of the customers’ purchase intention. However, Chaffe and Smith (2013); and Kingsnorth (2022) argued that nowadays, digital marketers use an online guide for shopping for customers to make customers easily search for suitable products and the best marketers for those products. Hence, it suggests that firms should make productive use of digital marketing platforms to provide customers with better shopping experiences in the overall shopping journey.

Another aspect of customer satisfaction theory is emotional consistency. It constitutes the firms’ emotional processes through digital marketing campaigns like flash sales and mega offers on the products. This further aspect states that firms should regularly advertise the products to increase the accuracy of the firm’s initiatives under market viability. This includes evolving marketing quotes that inspire the customers from their ego and boost their aspirations with different styles to improve the product image through advertising under digital marketing (Vakeel et al., 2018).

Marketing Research Project

2.5.5 Customer Relationship Management Theory

From the viewpoint of Lemon and Verhoef (2016), customer relationship management theory entails that customers should be included in all aspects of the firm’s decisions so that proper control can be gained for the retention of the customers. This theory focuses on the importance of the customers with the firms with the effect that customers need not build long-term relationships with the firms. It states that to increase the firms’ revenue, there is no need to retain customers in the long term. The central concept of this theory is that firms must use the appropriate advertising methods to meet the customers’ changing aspirations. The methods should aim at customer satisfaction through effective pricing and the channels of services to the customers. Hence, firms should have a strategy to meet the customers’ needs in marketing the products. Furthermore, firms should opt for the means that distinguish the interests of the customers and the firms themselves without synergizing the results or the methods of equitable distribution of benefits. This theory is one of the important theories in the customer-managing process and focuses on the integrated development of both customers and firms.

However, Lemon and Verhoef (2016) further stated that the focus of customer relationship management theory stresses the need for different tools in the modern institution of the customers’ experiences. These tools include smartphones and firms’ websites. These tools are meant to increase the customers’ hedonic needs created by firms’ digital marketing campaigns. Modern firms in the fashion industry that deal with apparel focus on creating new events through which customers are brought to new products for their acceptance and reviews. These reviews have a positive impact on the customers’ shopping journey in the future. Therefore, it results in the further good of the firms and customers through sales of the products. In this respect, Poorrezaeiet al. (2019) illuminated that customer loyalty is the most critical factor in the customer relationship management theory that boosts customers’ shopping experience. Mainly, this theory enlightens customers and firms with the techniques of analyzing each other’s moves in digital marketing in the modern period.

2.6 Role of Digital Marketing in Apparel Firms

According to Roberts and Zahay (2012), digital marketing plays a crucial role in apparel firms as it facilitates monitoring the prevailing fashion trends that are highly preferred by customers. Digital marketing plays an effective role in converting customers by targeting them through digital platforms. With the advancement in digital technologies, digital marketing has become an easy way of attracting customers who are into fashion. Besides this, Parker and Kuo (2021), customers also have a large ease of navigating the products of their choice and as per the trends in a comfortable manner. Digital marketing is an easy way to improve customer experience as they can shop from remote places without actually visiting physical stores.

2.6.1 Global Reach

From the viewpoint of Desai (2019), the increase in technology and digitalization has modified the lives of people, and the internet has become a crucial part. Digital marketing plays an efficient role in helping apparel firms target global customers, which could be possible with physical stores but with much more effort and cost. However, digital marketing has no national boundaries and is accessible to all the customers residing in different regions of the world. Customers can shop from apparel firms by sitting in their homes without any disturbances. Due to this, the apparel firms are highly benefitted as they can expand their business into new markets by targeting potential customers from different market dynamics. Besides this, Gielens and Steenkamp (2019) examined that digital marketing facilitates displaying customer-oriented content to global customers that grab their attention and helps in the expansion of apparel firms. For example- apparel firms use digital marketing by displaying clothing products that are trendy in a particular region to attract more customers, thereby increasing global reach. Not only this, digital marketing plays a great role in increasing the accessibility of apparel firms, and they can trade into international markets by acquiring huge recognition for their firm and its product range. Thus, it helps in increasing the customer base to a large extent with efficiency. However, Sumarliahet al. (2022) examined that digital marketing can have negative outcomes as many customers feel insecure about purchasing clothing products from online platforms. This affects their buying decision and hurts sales. Customers are more concerned about data privacy and regulations, which leads to a poor impact on their purchase decisions. Besides this, Manzoor et al. (2020) determined that global customers might not appreciate the firm because many customers have opinions of purchasing from national firms only, and they avoid buying products from international firms. Due to this, they prohibit online shopping from international firms, thereby leading to poor sales and waste of efforts made in digital marketing.

Reflective Essay On Learnings From Coursework

2.6.2 Customer Engagement

            According to Rathnayaka (2018), digital marketing leads to high customer engagement by involving customers on various platforms that make them feel recognized and acknowledged. Digital marketing provides an immense scope of interacting with potential customers by effectively using various platforms, thereby creating cordial relationships with the customers. Due to this, customers also develop a positive image of the firm as it makes them feel involved, and their feedback and suggestions are considered. Moreover, apparel firms maintain records of customer data that help in updating customer-oriented content and increase engagement of the customers, thereby improving the online shopping experience that facilitates increased profits. In addition to this, Boateng (2018) examined that digital marketing in apparel firms increases customer engagement through direct interactions by showing online actions and gestures, including likes, shares, and comments. With the help of this, apparel firms also analyze the popularity of their products by monitoring likes and comments regularly. Effective customer engagement acts as a critique for the firms, and they can modify their products as per the comments of customers, thereby satisfying the customers completely. Furthermore, Westerman, Bonnet, and McAfee (2014) determined that firms use discount vouchers and frequent sales that are displayed on their website to engage customers on digital platforms by targeting them effectively. Throwing customer-friendly deals plays a great role in engaging customers through digital marketing. In contrast, Hazéeet al. (2020) explored that customer engagement on digital platforms can be negative as well because many customers often upload negative comments about the products and services that affect the brand image of the apparel firm. Customers can reject the products of a firm by negatively engaging themselves on digital platforms and websites, thereby reducing sales of the firm. Besides this, Spradling Straub and Strong (2021) highlighted that customer engagement can also lead to unwanted and fake blame on the firm, which affects brand reputation and leads to a poor market image. Thus, disengagement of negative customers is also a significant factor that should be considered in digital marketing. In the same line, Mani and Chouk (2017) examined that several customers are not in favor of complete reliance on technology, and they feel that technology is being overused. Due to this, the reviews about digital marketing are not useful and hurt brand image and products. Besides this, customers are unwilling to pay the online charges and delivery costs because they have opinions that the company might overcharge them, and they are in no position to bargain. The payment techniques also create doubts in customers because they feel unsafe in sharing their card details and information on online modes because of fear of internet fraud. This is a drawback in digital marketing.

2.6.3 Social Media Marketing

Tafesse and Wien (2018) stated that digital marketing plays a vital role in increasing the social media presence of a firm by generating customer-oriented and trendy content. With the help of social media, customers easily adapt to advanced fashion trends because of high fashion-related content and information. By using digital marketing, apparel firms often develop the concept of trend forecasting through social media, which allows the firms to determine their potential for digital success and creativity. Besides this, Jayasuriya, Azam, and Ferdous (2017), the use of social media is highly increasing among customers which provides a huge scope for creating brand awareness by uploading creative and engaging content on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and YouTube. The huge customer engagement on social media helps in changing perceptions of customers about fashion and creating awareness by posting good quality pictures of clothing products that help in developing buying decisions. In addition to this, Low et al. (2020) examined that digital marketing helps in search engine optimization (SEO), which often drives customer attention toward the brand on social media channels and even increases brand visibility. The ranking on SEO directly affects the firm’s presence on social media and generates a huge impact on the conversion rate of the customers on the website of the apparel firm. Moreover, Sokolova and Titova (2019) highlighted that effective marketing on social media and the development of social signals helps in increasing customer traffic on the website of the firm and increases lead generation for the firm effectively. In contrast, Ilhan, Kübler, and Pauwels (2018) examined that social media can also lead to negative publicity because of reviews displayed by other customers about the products. Besides this, poor quality content on social media can also affect the customer’s buying decision as poor quality content fails to depict the correct image of the products. Low customer interactions by the firm also reduce the customer’s willingness to purchase a product as they feel neglected by the firm. However, Tiago and Veríssimo (2014) demonstrated that social media develops a positive perception of the firm in the minds of customers as the testimonials posted by the firm are often impactful and help in the conversion of customers. In social media marketing, firms analyze the trends and develop user-generated content that directly brings traffic to the website of the firm, thereby leading to a powerful web presence. Apart from this, social media highly contributes to facilitating direct interaction with the customers where the firm can directly address the queries posted by the customers. Due to this, customers feel more recognized and connected with the brand, thereby increasing sales.

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2.6.4 Contributes to Cost-Effective Business Operations

From the viewpoint of Bala and Verma (2018), digital marketing is a cost-effective technique for improving business operations and sales because it incurs lower costs than other physical forms of marketing methods. By avoiding long advertisements and banners, apparel firms effectively use digital and online advertisements that are directly targeted to potential customers. These advertisements are usually made of graphics and creative pictures of products. Due to this, they are less costly and help in increasing the target to the website of the firm. Such advertisements are considered retargeting ads. Thus, by using digital marketing, apparel firms have an immense scope to improve their conversion rates cost-effectively. In addition to this, Tien et al. (2020) demonstrated that digital marketing includes paid promotions of the firm’s product on different digital platforms and social media channels that are highly beneficial and are comparatively cheaper than other marketing tactics. With the help of paid promotions, digital marketing plays an effective role in acquiring a return on investments and targets a larger audience by cost-effectively increasing online visibility. Furthermore,  Dwivediet al. (2020) determined that content generated through digital marketing is of less cost and is merely developed to attract customers and develop a purchase decision among them. The content generated is directed toward the customers through e-mail marketing, social media marketing, influencer marketing, or mobile marketing that helps in conducting cheap promotional activities and leaves a long-lasting impact on customers. However, Dörnyei (2021) determined that digital marketing can hurt customers as customers have a fear of online fraud and unsafe online transactions. Besides this, digital marketing is also a little time-consuming as it takes time to establish and target the right set of customers. This is because it usually takes time to create content about a particular fashion trend and by the time the content is generated, the customers might lose, thereby leading to delays and poor purchases.

2.6.5 Effectively Supplies Content for Apparel Firms

            According to Putri and Hermawan (2021), digital marketing plays an important role in supplying innovative and unique content for maintaining customer flow on websites. It is considered a great medium for lead generation by posting relevant and reliable content for targeting the right set of customers. Customers often consider digital marketing content highly dependable and effectively analyze it before finally purchasing the product. The content supplied through digital marketing is highly informative and depicts detailed information about the firm’s product by using creative graphics that help attract customers. Furthermore, Cui et al. (2018), determined that merely content is not supplied through digital marketing. Apparel firms also indulge in digital campaigns that are often conducted on social media to engage customers. These digital campaigns are marketing tactics used by apparel firms to analyze the market trends in fashion and clothing so that they can generate products in alignment with trends. Besides this, many apparel firms also contact famous influencers and celebrities to participate in online campaigns and post value-generated content on social media to develop the urge to purchase products among customers (Cooley and Parks-Yancy, 2019). Thus, the influencers and celebrities supply digital content to the firms by trying on apparel and posting effective reviews. Moreover, Khan and Siddiqui (2013), highlighted that the digital marketing content that is supplied to the firms can be easily found by the customers with the help of a keywords strategy where customers search a particular word and the search engine leads them to the website of the firm. This makes the process of shopping easy and convenient for the customers. However, supplying digital marketing content requires expert and competent personnel as otherwise, the content would make no impact on customers. The drawback of digital marketing highlighted by Karimi and Walter (2015) is that content supply can get complex because of dynamic market conditions. Due to this, the firms can face difficulty in adapting and developing new content frequently.

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2.6.6 Tracks the Profitability of the Firm

From the viewpoint of Ibrahim and Ganeshbabu (2018), digital marketing plays an efficient role in tracking the progress and profitability of the firm by monitoring the success and positive impacts of digital campaigns. In traditional marketing methods, evaluating the results and impacts was extremely difficult than contemporary marketing. Digital marketing provides scope for tracking the progress and examining whether the efforts persuaded the customers or not. This is because measuring effectiveness through online channels is comparatively easier than physical marketing methods. The campaigns and marketing strategies can be tracked easily in real time by assessing the feedback and views of the customers. Furthermore, Gharibshah and Zhu (2021) examined that digital marketing tracks progress through various metrics that depend on the nature of the digital campaign. These metrics consist of impressions, conversions, dwell times, and clicks. For example- an apparel firm can analyze the conversion rate through a campaign by using the conversion metrics. Besides this, these metrics also help in counting the number of clicks that directly provide a detailed outlook of customer engagement on the website and the number of times in which the customer visited the website. However, digital marketing also uses several marketing tools to track progress, such as lead enrichment tools, SEO tools, and conversion optimization tools. These tools also provided a deep insight into the activities and engagement of the customers and their opinions about the campaign. Along the same line, Ordenes and Silipo (2021) explored that these marketing tools help in compiling all the data in a single place and facilitate tracking metrics and outcomes. By doing this, apparel firms can easily identify the positive as well as negative impacts of their digital marketing campaign and strategies. For example- in apparel firms, customer metrics can be evaluated based on views on clothing products and whether the customers have positive or negative impressions about the particular clothing product.

2.6.7 Digital Marketing Conducts Inbound Marketing

According to Opreana and Vinerean (2015), digital marketing significantly contributes to doing inbound marketing of a firm where it is responsible for targeting the customer traffic and converting the traffic into potential customers. The technique of assisting prospective clients in discovering the organization is known as inbound marketing. This takes place frequently before the buyer is prepared to make a purchase. However, initiating contact at an early stage can result in a preference for the brand and, ultimately, leads and money. Digital marketing fosters the creation of rich content, including creative blogs about the products and services of the firm and writing effective reports with graphics and visuals that help attract traffic. Besides this, inbound marketing covers nurturing the customer leads and driving them towards the firm’s website to make a purchase decision.

Furthermore, Patrutiu-Baltes (2016) examined that digital marketing performs marketing automation for social media and other digital channels where the firm conducts e-commerce activities. In digital marketing, new inbound ideas are frequently proposed for facilitating customer acquisition and managing e-mails by effective marketing. Besides this, various online events are also conducted through digital marketing that increases sales and traffic to the firm’s website by developing engaging activities on social media and other channels of the firm. In inbound marketing, relevant solutions are also provided to the customers related to their queries and other issues. For example- in apparel firms, inbound marketing covers effective exchange procedures by constantly answering the queries of customers. This is an important aspect of online fashion retailing because constant support and answering queries will help companies maintain transparency. This will also guide customers regarding return processes and will make them happier by fulfilling their demands. Thus, the content created in inbound marketing directly generates high value for the customers, and content is always directed in a customer-oriented way. However, Eze et al. (2020) examined that inbound marketing has several drawbacks, such as it is highly consuming and slow to show relevant and required results. The slow process often affects the brand image and profitability of the firm. Besides this, the calculation of ROI is also a challenging task in inbound marketing as it requires strong expertise.

ASS066-1 Understanding the Human Services

1.7  Hypothesis

Pre-purchase phase

H0 (1): Personalized posts on Instagram have negative impacts on consumers

H0 (2): Personalized posts on Instagram have the most negative impacts on creating brand awareness

H1: Personalized posts on Instagram have the most impact on creating brand awareness for the consumer

Purchase Phase

H0: Constant customer support does not help companies in creating strong brand images

H1: Constant customer support helps companies in creating strong brand images

H2: Introducing modern technologies like AR/VR can help companies in attracting more customers

Post-purchase phase

H0: Taking feedback from customers does not help apparel companies understand what they need to improve further

H1: Taking feedback from customers helps apparel companies understand what they need to improve further

H2: Helping customers by guiding them throughout the process of “return” and “refund” could help apparel firms generate high brand value

ECE230 Language and Literacy Development in Early Childhood Sample

References

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