H&M and ASOS.com Websites Analysis
Table of Contents
Digital marketing is the new norm across the world. Business firms, both big and small, have already aligned themselves to the new shift in marketing, whereas the firms that have not adjusted to this new wave only lose. Firms can engage in digital marketing through several ways. The dominant ways include the use of the social media and the use of company websites. The social media methods involve blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube (Liu & Picard 2014). Based on this brief introduction, this research paper presents the analysis of two websites. One of the websites belongs to a traditional retailer in the fashion industry (H&M). The second is an e-commerce website operated by ASOS. The two retailers operate in the fashion industry, and this allows conducting a comparative study of their digital marketing practices.
Description Retailers’ Websites
H&M is a globally recognized fashion brand. The company operates 3700 shops spread across the world. The company’s website introduces a visitor to the many locations where the company has operational shops. Additionally, the website confirms the firm’s commitment to continue operating under the old brick and mortar business model, especially considering the fact that instead of having ecommerce channels on the website, the company has a shop-locater tool that allows the visitor to locate H&M shops near them (H&M 2016).
The website has three other important digital marketing tools. The first tool is the newsletter signup function. This allows the customer to subscribe to H&M’s periodic newsletters that act as the main digital advertising tool. Another tool is the customer service link on the website. This link allows the website visitor to locate physical shops where they can visit a customer care desk for services. In other words, the company does not use the website to communicate with the customers. The only thing that the website achieves as a digital marketing tool is allowing the customers to view the products in the company’s shops. Since the customers cannot confirm the availability of those products in the H&M shops, the website hardly contributes to better performance of the company. Therefore, this analysis indicates that the H&M official website is not an effective digital marketing tool (H&M 2016).
The second organization under scrutiny is the ASOS Marketplace website. ASOS is the largest independent online fashion and beauty store in the UK. The organization provides more than 60,000 branded products. ASOS has a fully developed e-commerce platform that allows the company to interact fully with the customers. For instance, the company’s website is literary labeled as a marketplace. It offers free shipping on orders and has a shopping basket on its website that confirms the ecommerce model (ASOS 2016). ASOS is more developed as a digital marketing and direct selling platform than the H&M website despite the fact that H&M has been in the market for a longer period.
Focusing on the various tools visible on the ASOS landing page, there are links to the various social media platforms. These include the links to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr. The provision of the links on the company’s landing page invites the visitors to interact with the company. Therefore, through the social media websites, the company is able to interact with its customers. Through the interactions, the company markets its products and its brand. It also manages to learn about what the clients’ requirements are and meet their demand. The social media acts as the major source for online customers, and consequently, by concentrating on the social media, the company is able to derive sales that would probably be impossible on a normal brick and mortar platform. Considering the increased adoption and acceptance of online shopping across the world, in the long-run, the company is more than likely to outperform H&M, and this has already started taking shape in view of the fact that ASOS is already selling its products globally without running even a single shop anywhere in the world (ASOS 2016).
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The second major tool that is visible from the landing page includes the payment methods. An online customer can purchase products from the company through credit and debit cards. Some of the commonly accepted cards include the Visa card, MasterCard, American Express, and Maestro, among others. The company also accepts payments through PayPal. The website is also certified as a secure and safe website for online shopping. This feature helps in building credibility about the company, and the credibility turns to sales and then to profits for the company. One major thing that emanates from the fact that the ASOS is running an online platform is the fact that the company saves on the cost of running the business. This means that the company can offer trade discounts to its customers and, in the process, save on the cost of operations (Safko 2013).
One of the most interesting observations about the ASOS official website is the fact that the website does not have information overload, especially on the landing page. On many occasions, it is highly likely to see an ecommerce website overloaded with information what the organization trades in (Safko 2013). While much information is at times beneficial to the organization, in many cases, it limits the ability of the organization to trade effectively and win customer loyalty. The reason for this is the fact that adundance of information may make the website appear not only overloaded but also disorganized. Much information also makes it difficult for the visitor of the website to find various items on the website. The fact that the landing page of ASOS website is not overloaded with information ensures that the website attracts more visitors. As a digital marketing tool, the website ensures that ASOS attracts customers to purchase the company’s products (ASOS 2016).
Drawing on the network theory of digital marketing, the website of ASOS has qualities that make it superior to the H&M’s website simply because of the social media links that ASOS includes in its landing page. The network theory indicates that success in ecommerce business cannot be measured by the number of clicks that a website gets, but rather, it is measured by the responses that the company gets from the visitors of its website. Consequently, having social media networks allows the company to monitor the responses from the customers as the customers freely share their concerns with the company through the social media platforms. Considering the two websites in the analysis, H&M failed to provide appropriate links to social media. Instead, the company provided a link called “customer care’, and even after opening, one has to know their location and the location of the shop they want to address in order to be directed on how to access customer support services. Research indicates that powerful users of the social media networks are those users that work on spreading their influence across many differentiated networks, and it is on this basis that the website of H&M is considerably inferior to that of ASOS (Hemann & Burbary 2013).
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Another digital marketing theory that can be considered effective in the analysis of H&M and ASOS websites is the customer-led positioning theory. As the name suggests, the theory entails content and product development based on the demand created by customers. This means that a company such as ASOS will sell only those products that are high in demand and consequently, it structures its investments based on the demand trends (ASOS 2016). For a company such as H&M, the content in its display is not demand driven, but rather, it is based on the perceptions of the management on what the customers would want. Consequently, H&M is likely to suffer losses, especially where the working capital is held in inventories that are not currently demanded. Therefore, in customer-led positioning, the company must have the means to consistently assess what is currently in demand and move with the trend. This is based on the simple understanding that in digital marketing, the customer manipulates and customizes the digital retail experience (Nicklin, Meyer, Hardy, & Wilkins 2013).
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Differences between H&M and ASOS Websites
According to the analysis, there are several differences between the H&M and the ASOS websites. From the landing page of ASOS, the customer is encouraged to visit the website to get offers on various fashion and beauty products. The website also informs the visitor that the company provides more than 60,000 branded products and that the customer does not have to worry about how the products purchased would get to them. This is accounted for the fact that the company promises free shipment to the customer’s doorstep. Other than that, the website provides the web visitors with the various payment options and the channels, through which they can interact with the customer service in order to get quick responses (Albee & Vassallo 2015). In other words, the ASOS website encourages its visitors to visit the website more often, and this is one reason why the company survives as direct seller.
Focusing on the H&M website, the most profound note that one makes is that it does not encourage one to keep visiting the website in order buy anything from the company or even read about a new product. In fact, the probable only reason as to why one should be visiting the website is to identify the physical locations of H&M shops, and if there is none near them, then they cannot get the services of the company. The reason for reaching this conclusion is that the company places strong emphasis on the store-locater function. Even when the customer needs a simple clarification and the customer cannot be served through the website, they still need to visit the physical shop. In regard to the newsletter function on the website, creating an account on the website only helps the customer by ensuring that they receive the periodic newsletter, and from the newsletter, they are able to see what the retailer is selling and in return focus on planning a day to visit the physical H&M stores. In essence, the development of the H&M website tells the customer that there is no need to revisit the website after the first visit, which means that the H&M website cannot be referred to as a good digital marketing tool.
The way a company communicates its image plays a significant role, and this influences brand perception. For instance, H&M is a globally recognized brand. However, considering its website as its tool of communication creates another impression about the organization. From the analysis of the website, the company does not appear to be the fashionable new-era business entity that many people have known about (Kaufman & Horton 2015). In fact, the website represents the company as the one that focuses so much on what its sells that it appears to forget what the customer wants. The digital era customers are focused on trendy fashion. Concentrating on the more conservative trends as the H&M does allows characterizing the as traditional. Nonetheless, the H&M website also communicates effectively about the products that the company offers by having a tab under every product line. However, one cannot explicitly tell whether the products the company sells are expensive or affordable. The website also gives an impression that it targets the older and conservative generations since these are the people who are more likely to be attracted by an old and well-established global brand (Kaufman & Horton 2015).
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Focusing on ASOS, the very first perception that one gets from the landing page of the company’s website is the idea that the customers get price bargains and great trade discounts. For instance, at the center of the ASOS website, there is a great blue picture informing the visitors that they get 70% off their purchases. This clearly indicates that the company is pursuing a low price and high volumes strategy. This is also the company’s major marketing strategy and approach. Another thing that is evident from the website is the fact that the company focuses on reaching out to the young generation of men and women (Tapp, Whitten, & Housden 2014). The conclusion was reached based on the observation that the company has two tabs showing the products for women and those for men. Additionally, the website shows this by having pictures of young male and female models and not of children or older people. This communicates precisely about the target market that is probably between the ages of 16 years and 35 years. Such branding approaches the company to its market since the shoppers in the mentioned age bracket search for brands that they can associate with. Other than the low priced products and the images, the use of all available social media platforms indicates that the company is specifically focused on the connected generations, which specifically includes the generation x, generation y, and generation z. It would be inappropriate to consider that the company targets older generations through the website links and links to the social media sites posted on the webpage (Richardson, Kelley, & James 2015).
Conclusions and Recommendations
H&M Company operates as traditional brick and mortar business. The company has developed a website for digital marketing purposes. Through the website, the company informs the audience on what it offers and provides the store locater function indicating its continued focus on operating physical shops. There are no indications whatsoever that the company is interested in developing the website to an ecommerce website. On the other hand, there is the ASOS direct seller of fashion products. The company operates from the UK but sells its products globally as indicated by its free global shipment pledge. The company’s website is a well developed ecommerce channel, and from a digital marketing perspective, the website communicates information about the company’s target market, the products offered, and the methods of payment. One of the major elements of this website is that it provides links to the social media networks meaning that its retail experience is customer led.
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This research paper recommends a few improvements to both websites herein analyzed. For the H&M website, the H&M management must consider providing social media links to replace the use of clickstream technology. This will enable the company to connect with its customers and be able to develop and sell products that are market driven. Success in digital marketing depends on how well the organization manages its social media networks. For ASOS, this report recommends the addition of a slide show in the website to display the various items that it offers. The slide show would enable the company to sell more products considering the fact that some clients are likely to purchase a product simply because they saw it flashing across the computer screen.