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An approach to sustainable ‘fashion’ e-retail: a five-stage evolutionary strategy for ‘Clicks-and-Mortar’ and ‘Pure-Play’ enterprises

Ashworth, Catherine J. and Schmidt, Ruth A. and Pioch, Elke and Hallsworth, Alan (2006) An approach to sustainable ‘fashion’ e-retail: a five-stage evolutionary strategy for ‘Clicks-and-Mortar’ and ‘Pure-Play’ enterprises. Journal of retailing and consumer services, 13 (4). pp. 289-299. ISSN 1873-1384

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E-retail not only presents a fresh channel to market for existing players, but also enables a cost-effective route to fashion marketing (i.e. apparel, footwear and accessories) for new entrants. Knowledge of the stages involved in cyber store development is absent from existing literature, for retail in general and lingerie/fashion in particular. This paper uses a comparative case study approach to inductively conceptualize and contrast the stages involved in the move online (i.e. from website inauguration to profit generation and securing longer-term business value) for an existing high street retailer and a new market entrant in the lingerie/fashion sector. In contrast to existing generic e-business models which dictate either three or four-stage models where profit generation is inconceivable within the first five to seven years online, this paper reports a five-stage e-retail Internet strategy set for profit, where returns on investment are made within 6 months. This has critical importance to smaller-sized practitioners where inherent opportunities for rapid generation of business value, sustainable cash flow and the need to secure market space differentiation are critical to survival in a dynamic retail landscape.

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