E-commerce comprises purchasing and selling goods and services in the WWW, and for many companies this is their regular business but extended into the online space, and therefore apart from buying and selling, important are the issuer of money transfers, security, and other aspects of online interaction between companies, customers, suppliers, retailers, middlemen, etc.
All in all, in a broad sense, e-commerce denotes all kinds of commercial relations that are connected with setting home-based and international deals in the web: trade mission, factoring, designing, consulting, investment contracts, leasing, engineering, insurance, sale and purchase contracts, bank services, and many other forms of industrial and business cooperation.
E-commerce allows to ensure that the businesses be ready to face the new challenges, one of the most important being business globalization. The emergence and development of the IT make it possible for the international businesses to reach out for their customers even in the remotest areas of the world. Conducting business in cyberspace is a way to save money, but surely that is not the only advantage.
The rise of e-business has unquestionably changed shopping patterns, forcing retailers to redefine their roles to ensure their place in the market. The variety of goods available to customers at a click of a button and the added benefit of allowing them to shop whenever it's convenient for them, and not during set 'operating hours' has in effect placed the customers in charge.
For the companies, the spread of e-commerce marked the necessity to implement into their business model constant interaction with the customers, which is a must for the firms that want to keep up with the consumers' demands, and attract and retail more loyal customers. The Internet is a genuinely new communicational environment, and therefore traditional marketing techniques cannot generally be applied to e-commerce. In the process of studying the marketing model that uses 'traditional' information media for PR, brand promotion and advertising, it was revealed that the use of e-commerce makes it possible for the customers to make decisions independently, and therefore there is a dramatic shift for the consumers from being a rather passive auditorium (as with the traditional marketing) to a powerful force able to influence the companies' activity significantly.
Therefore, it is not sufficient for the companies to apply the already existing marketing principles to their e-commerce, as the new Internet environment presupposes the development of principally new approaches to sales, accounting, advertising, dealing with customers, and many other aspects of business activity. In e-commerce, customers play a much more active role in the process of marketing, as they are the bearers of information valuable for the companies.
The overall aim of this research is to explore what 'forces' are at work when consumers shop online in the clothing retail. The research will be carried out in the women online clothing retail market, primarily because of the huge investment in the clothing market by both online and traditional retailers, (www.brandrepublic.com) It will comprise two principal elements, a literature search, and an analysis of four retailer websites, two of them are purely online