Evaluating an E Business website: Zodiac Clothing


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The main aim of this report is to evaluate the E Business website. The report comprise of the evaluation of the e commerce website on the elements of the Branding, Social Networking and Mass Customization. The report consists of the methodology which an e business website should follow to perform its business online. The theoretical framework on the basis of Branding, Social Networking and Mass Customization is developed by literature review. The variety of the literature has been reviewed which include the text book, articles from the various journals and other reliable sources. The website is analysed and compared against this theoretical framework to find whether the website is focusing on these concepts or not. The report includes various sections which are Introduction, Literature Review, Evaluation of the website, Conclusion, Recommendation and References.

INTRODUCTION
In the global era of the technology, the internet evolved as a major method of communicating in the business world. Many companies are turned up to the e business by developing their business websites. This gives a rise the concept of the online branding where the firms have to create their brand identity online. The brand plays an important role in today’s competitive world. The customers only differentiate your product depending upon the strong brand reputation of the company. The increase use of the social networking sites creates the new opportunity for the business to connect with the people. This helps the firms to remain in the contact with their existing customers and also attract new customers. These two factors along with the mass customization are discussed briefly in this report.

The Zodiac is one of the largest clothing companies in India. The Zodiac is the manufacturers and exporters of premium branded business shirts and formal office dress shirts in India. The company has the global presence in the manufacturing quality shirts and other clothing products. The Zodiac is vertically integrated, design and marketing driven clothing brand having presence in India, Europe and USA. The main motto of the company is to provide finest quality and value for money to its customers. The firm manufactures Shirts, Trousers and Accessories like belts and cufflinks. They also have their club wear brand named ZOD. The company sells its products through the multi-branded retailers and also poses exclusive Zodiac showrooms across the India. The Zodiac operates its online business through the website named www.zodiaconline.com. It provides exclusive collection of the shirts, trousers and ties and other accessories online. The company has well organized website which can attract customers to buy the products. This website is compared with the different criteria of Branding, Social networking and Mass Customization and important issues are derived to which need to be improve. The report includes the literature review, evaluation of website, conclusion and recommendations.

LITERATURE REVIEW
The various types of the books, journal articles and other reputed sources had provided a basic framework for an e business site to follow. The e business concept of the Branding, Social Networking and Mass Customization are been developed and these criteria are compared against the website of the ZODIAC clothing ltd.

BRANDING
The Brand can be defined as the identifiable product or service augmented in such a way that the buyer or user perceives relevant unique added values which match their needs most closely (Chaffey D., 2009). The brand product is the product from the specific supplier or manufacturer which can be easily identified by its name or appearance. The internet provides broader opportunities for the various businesses to establish its brand image and brand building. The online brand building is considered to be one of the major factors in the marketing plan of the various companies. The successful brand enables the firm to achieve higher customer loyalty, greater margins, increase profit and competitive advantage (Keller et al., 2001). The branding can be characterized as the formation of the greater value by providing consistent offers and services to customers who keep them coming back (Simmons G., 2007).

In today’s competitive world various businesses had recognized that they have to deliver what customer want and therefore adapted online marketing and branding along with the face to face interaction with their customers. The online branding helps the customers to easily identify their needs and turns into greater loyalty towards the product or service. According to Chaffey D., the consumer can easily interact with the brand and with the greater extent in the online internet environment. The literature review provided the important elements to build the strong brand on the internet. These gives a guideline to be followed which are described as below:

BRAND NAME AND BRAND LOGO
Brand name is the combination of the both the name or the symbol, which influence a thought process in the mind of the consumer and thereby creates the value. According to Keller et al., the brand name instantly shows the benefits of the products or services and creates the positive attraction more effectively. The logo of the brand is the symbol of the brand. The logo visually identifies the particular products or services. The brand name of the product should be in accordance with the type of the business the company doing. The brand name initiates the thought process in consumer brand and thereby it creates values for the company.

COLOUR AND GRAPHICS
According to Bottomley P.et al., the colour of the brand is the important expect of the brand name. The colour is the one of the important elements of the brand’s projection along with the inherent meaning. The colour of the brand instantly develops affiliation toward the brand and it can be used to develop desired brand image in the customer’s mind (Bottomley P. Et al). The graphics of the brand also plays an important role. The graphical symbol initiates the thought process of the consumers toward the particular brand as for example a tick like symbol relates to Nike. The graphics of the website should also include brand name, brand logo, and other important pictures which represent the products or services. The graphics should be accordingly used to the product and service they are offering. It should create an enhanced experience for the user to visit the website again. The colour scheme and navigation across the different WebPages should be uniform.

BRAND MESSAGE AND TEXT
The Web pages should consistently show the brand message during the navigation. The text size should also be consistent in the all pages. These give a positive effect to the buyers. The equal size texts and fonts used in the website do not confuse the buyers and have the enhanced customer experience.

NEWS AND UPDATES
The news and update section is important from the customer prospective. This section immediately shows the latest offers and promotion by the company to their customers. The website should include the news and update facility to keep their customers updated about the latest offers and promotion. This creates a positive impact on the users when they revisit the website. There should be news letter subscription facility to enable customer to keep update about the promotions.

SOCIAL NETWORKING
Today the social networking becomes an integral part of the daily routine. The increasing number of the networking sites and users interests makes the firms to adapt it as a medium of communication to their customers. The consumers remain in the centre for any business and the social networking provides the opportunity to interact with them and also build special relationship with the consumers. According to Simmons G et al., social networking enables the firms to interact with their clients directly with one another regardless of distance or time. The social networking includes the websites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter etc. The social networking is being an integral part of the customer relationship management now a day. The company can concentrate on individual needs of customers. The social networking decreases the firms’ expenses in terms of the communication to its customers than the orthodox methods like mail, telephone etc. It empowers the business to reach its customers more easily. The different communities on the social networking sites represent the same likes and interests. The firm can target the customers for the particular interests and market their products to them.

MASS CUSTOMIZATION
The concept of the mass customization is essential part of the e business. The mass customization is a business strategy which fulfils the individual requirement of the consumers without scarifying the efficiency and capability. It provides the flexibility and greater satisfaction to the customers towards the product or services offered by the company. These help the company to build a special relationship with its customers. The mass customization is the process where an individual consumer can have the products or services depending his interest and requirement. Today, the concept of the mass customization puts the customer in front. Here the process of the customization helps the consumer to buy the products which match their needs and requirements rather than what company wants.

EVALUATION OF THE WEBSITE
The website www.zodiaconline.com is evaluated against the three main elements of the e business i.e. Branding, Social Networking and Mass Customization.

The Zodiac clothing company has the simple logo written in the all capital letters. The company bears the three different names under the name ZODIAC. For the shirts it has the logo ZODIAC with the tagline FINEST QUALITY SHIRT MAKERS, and for the ties it shows FINEST QUALITY TIE MAKERS. This logo indicates the company has the commitment towards the quality and perfection. It simply gives an impact of luxury in the customers mind. According to the type of business the company is doing this logo suits it most.

COLOUR AND GRAPHICS
The company had developed its website in the black and grey colour. These two colours graphic scheme remains constant during the navigation of the different WebPages. The logo of the company remains constant at the top left side of the webpage. This logo when clicked gives the direction to the homepage where customers can find the navigation to other related information. The graphics of the homepage denotes the simplicity. The company logo along with the large cursive letter Z at the background gives an aesthetic effect to webpage. The same colour scheme gives the customers an effect of the uniformity. The website provides the range of the products it offers at the left side bar menu. The options in the task bar are also not working properly i.e. Style guide and Downloads.

BRAND MESSAGE AND TEXT
The website represents it logo constantly at the left side top of the webpage. The text size used for the website is adequately enough. The colour of the text remains white in all the pages and it turns to the yellow when the cursor moves through it or clicked. The option of site map is not currently working when clicked upon.

NEWS AND UPDATES
The news and updates are the important section for any website. It gives important information about the different product offers and it keeps the customer updated about the new products offered by the company. Here in the case of the ZODIAC company website it lacks the news and update section. The customer could not get enough information when he visits the website again. It seems to be all same what he left during last browsing session. Even though the company had put its latest collection of the Autumn/Winter 2010 section on the homepage it lacks the appeal to the new customers. The update looked like posted on the page to stick a notification rather than an individual section. This update section also spoils the image of that cursive letter Z on the homepage.

EVALUATION OF THE WEBSITE BASED ON SOCIAL NETWORKING
The website does not have any type of the social networking. It is just an orthodox website which is designed only to make customers buy the products. It provides the information about the online shopping and its product but lacks any networking with its customers. The website has the section of the customer care which provides the required information for the new and existing customer about how to order. The starting of the introduction to the page had a spelling mistake. Instead of the section the website had posted sectino which might negatively affect the consumer mind. The contact us section of the website provides the information about the contact details and it also gives the form to solve any queries from consumers. The form has an option of joining the mail list which does not state clearly about what information it is going to provide.

EVALUATION OF THE WEBSITE BASED ON MASS CUSTOMIZATION
The ZODIAC is the apparel company which could be benefited by providing products on the individual need of the customer. The website provides the option to choose from the various types of the shirts and ties. At the left side bar the website had put the section for the shirts where a customer can find the product depending upon the different attributes of the Style, Collar, Colour, Pattern and Cuff. The same is the case for the section of the ties with the options Category, Colour, Design and Fabric. These options enhance the customers’ shopping experience. The customers can easily short out the type of the product they want to buy. The website does not provide these types of options for its products in trousers and accessories. The consumer can find all available products when he clicked to the trousers and it is time consuming and tedious to short the desired product. This is the same case with the accessories like cufflinks and belts.

CONCLUSION
The evaluation of the website www.zodiaconline.com on the basis of literature review denotes that the website is well organised, well structured and well designed. In terms of the branding the website is well framed. The brand name and brand logo are appropriate to the type of business the company involved. The brand name and logo are well presented on each of the webpage. The colour and graphics used are also constant. The graphics used to develop the website are well designed and it provides the ease of use to the users. The users can easily find out the products and information they are looking for. The website also has uniform text structure which gives the positive effect to the website. In terms of the news and updates, the website lacks the enough attention. The social networking is not yet adapted by the company. The mass customization for its products gives an additional effect to the shopper. Even though the website had some issues with the latest technology and networking, overall it provides a enhance experience to its customers to shop great products.

RECOMMENDATIONS
The evaluation of the website provides many factors to be considered to become excellent provider of products and services to its customers. The key issues are raised which need to be attend to enhance greater customer experience when they shop online. The company should design its website more efficiently. Even though the overall structure of website is appropriate it lacks the appeal to the consumer. There is no product differentiation on the website. All the products under the same category are meant to be sold at the same price which might not be the case when you go to the in store environment. This gives a doubt in the consumer mind to whether to buy a product or not. So, the prices shown here should have some differentiations. There are no offers and discounts offered which must be included to increase the customer attention towards the products. The website should include the social networking such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace which increases the overall customer base. They should create a community on this type of social network where they can identify their customers and can know more about their requirements. These social networking helps the company to provide data which can be used to target certain group of customers. There should be a section of the FAQs which gives important information about the products and they should also include online chat option which gives an opportunity to talk with the customers with the special needs. The website should include an entire section for the customized products where a customer can have the product depending upon the adjustment they want for that particular product. The website also needs to include advertisement videos to attract the customers.

REFERENCES
Bottomley P, Doyle J, “The interactive effects of colours and products on perceptions of brand logo appropriateness”, Marketing Theory, Vol 6, 2006.

Chaffey D., (2009), “E-Business and E-Commerce Management”, 4Th edition, Prentice Hall.

Kevin Lane Keller, (2001), “Building Customer-Based Brand Equity: A Blueprint for Creating Strong Brands”

Lee C., Fung S., “Online Social Networks and E-Commerce”, 2007. Access from website http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/classes/6.805/student-papers/fall07-papers/social-networks.pdf

Simmons G., “i-Branding: developing the internet as a branding tool”, Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 25 No. 6, 2007.

Simmons G., Thomas B., Truong Y., “Managing i-branding to create brand equity”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol44, No. 9, 2010, pp 1260-1285.

www.zodiaconline.com

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