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Title: Examining the stages of decision-making in the omnichannel shopping journey for young high involvement female fashion consumers
Author: Lynch, Samantha
ISNI:       0000 0004 7965 257X
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2018
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The concept of omnichannel represents a recent shift in the retailing paradigm (Verhoef, Kannan and Inman, 2015; Huré et al., 2016). Omnichannel is specifically concerned with delivering an integrated customer experience which combines the advantages of several different channels, all within a single customer journey (Bernon et al., 2016; Brynjolfsson et al., 2013; Piotrowicz and Cuthbertson, 2014; Rigby, 2011; Verhoef et al., 2015; Elliott et al., 2012; Frazer and Stiehler, 2014). This is important since omnichannel consumers are channel-agnostic and the consumer's relationship is now with the overall brand rather than a specific channel. Consequently, fashion retailers now need to understand at a holistic level how shoppers engage in a journey that encompasses a variety of channels (Piotrowicz and Cuthbertson, 2014; Wolny and Charoensuksai, 2014) in order to influence customer experiences (Norton and Pine II, 2013). Discussion on the omnichannel concept has implied a focus on channel distribution and logistics (Christopher, 2016; Hübner et al., 2016). Consequently, literature on the subject of omnichannel emphasises an operational, rather than customer perspective. In order to take a customer view, it is argued that the context of omnichannel is underpinned by consumer decision-making because it is the decision-making process which triggers a shopping journey for fashion. Moreover, fashion is a particularly high-risk product category (Park and Stoel, 2005). This therefore highlights the complexity associated with fashion purchase decisions. UK fashion retailers are choosing to invest in an omnichannel strategy (Euromonitor GMID, 2012). Yet, fashion brands who have adopted such an approach are struggling to achieve best practice across all consumer touchpoints (Kurt Salmon, 2012). The fact that fashion brands are still disjointed across the communications channels, means that brands are not presenting nor reassuring the customer with a clear and coherent view of the brand. In decision-making, brands serve as a heuristic and simplify the decision process. The success of a fashion purchase decision is concerned with the ability of the consumer to choose the right brand (O'Cass, 2004). By understanding how consumers engage with different channels along the decision journey, fashion retailers will be better equipped to ensure they deliver and optimum brand experience and reduce risk associated with decision-making for fashion. The framework of the consumer decision process has been significant to understand the decision-making of consumers when shopping specifically for fashion (Cho and Workman, 2011). Yet, theories on customer decision-making in the consumer behaviour of the pre-internet decision process have remained virtually unchanged and largely unquestioned (Wolny and Charoensuksai, 2014). In particular, the consumer decision process model by Blackwell et al., (2006), as a core consumer decision-making theory, has yet to be revisited and examined in-depth despite technological advancements in retailing. The interplay between omnichannel and fashion retailing is an emergent topic for research and there is scope to contribute to knowledge by understanding consumers omnichannel customer decision-making journeys for fashion. By examining the consumer decision journey and also the risk associated with decision-making for fashion the current study will contribute an understanding of how the omnichannel environment affects high involvement consumers perceptions of risk. The methodological contribution of the study is through the work being positioned as an in-depth examination of the decision-making and by employing an inductive and exploratory approach. The study was narrow because of the need to get to the level of depth necessary in order to understand consumer decision-making effectively to enable rich insights. The primary research took place over four distinct phases using multiple qualitative methods. Focus groups were held to discuss shopping journey experiences and to understand the concept of omnichannel. In-depth interviews took place and employed photo-elicitation to enable consumers to map the stages of decision-making when shopping for fashion. Participants then conducted shopper diaries which were recorded using an online blog. Finally, follow-up interviews took place to probe more deeply into recent shopping encounters. The results of the study included a framework to outline the stages of the omnichannel customer decision-making journey for young high involvement female fashion consumers to develop knowledge on retail and marketing. The findings specifically contribute to knowledge on fashion consumer decision-making behaviour and omnichannel retailing.
Supervisor: Vazquez, Delia ; Barnes, Elizabeth ; Mccormick, Helen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: brand ; digital retailing ; consumer behaviour ; multi-channel ; risk ; retailing ; omnichannel ; fashion ; decision-making