E-Business: American Eagle Outfitters
Management Information Systems E-Business: American Eagle Outfitters American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) is a popular clothing and accessories company that markets primarily to young men and women between the age of 15 and 25. The company’s mission is to provide “high quality, on-trend clothing, accessories and personal care products at affordable prices” (Corporate Overview, 2009, p. 1). AEO manages nearly 1000 stories in the United States and Canada in addition to its retail website, which is located at www. e. com. The product line offered by American Eagle Outfitters is primarily concentrated upon clothing. The company offers both male and female apparel. Several brands are included within the product line. AEO’s Dormwear includes sleepwear and intimates. Martin + OSA is the company’s adult brand focused upon men and women between the ages of 28 and 40. The company recently established a new brand, 77kids, for children between the ages of two to ten. The availability of the different brands varies.
For example, 77kids is only available online while Martin + OSA is offered at its own store brands and website distinct from AE. com. American Eagle Outfitters chose to outsource to ATG for its e-commerce platform (Business Wire, 2005). Outsourcing has become a common strategy for e-commerce applications. Oz (2008) notes the “the majority of custom-designed applications are developed by companies that specialize in providing consulting and software development services to other businesses” (p. 446). ATG is one of the leading platforms for e-commerce marketing and customer services.
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The system is integrated and connects several different types of information systems, including transaction processing systems (TPS’s), customer relationship management (CRM) systems and decision support systems (DSS’s). The integrated system connects retail advertising, call-center customer service and order management within an integrated, functional system. The core strategy of the e-commerce information system is to personalize the shopping experience and build long term relationships with clients. This strategy is the same as the strategy used within the company’s landed retail business (Business Wire, 2005).
American Eagle Outfitter’s web-enabled commerce offers some significant benefits for the company and for consumers. First of all, the integrated platform ensures that consumers have access to customer service personnel when ordering. Consumers can make service requests or arrange for exchanges directly through the website without having to leave their home or travel to a store. Also, the website allows the company to focus upon up-selling by presenting products in whole outfits, rather than separate pieces.
The consumer can find an outfit that she or he likes and then click a link that will identify the different pieces involved in the outfit. This feature functions much like a store mannequin, helping consumers who might not be able to visualize outfits well and also promoting the purchase of multiple items. A third advantage is the website’s wish list. This function allows a consumer to mark desired items. That wish list can then be shared with friends or family members, enabling gift giving. Special sales are also a feature of the website.
Weekly updates to clearance items enable shoppers to purchase discount clothing that is unlikely to be available in local stores. A fifth advantage of the website is its membership programs. Creating a website account enables features that include coupons and email updates regarding sales and other special offers. The sign-in process enables fast, hassle free shopping for returning consumers by storing personal information securely. One drawback is the website’s dependency upon utilizing telephone connections to discuss potential order problems or to check on orders.
The website does quickly convey information to representatives at the company’s call centers so that representatives are well-informed. However, some consumers may utilize their land-line to connect to the internet and the need to disconnect from the internet in order to contact the call center could be viewed as an inconvenience. There is also no sales person available to help nudge a consumer toward a sale. In addition, the website fails to emulate the social benefits associated with shopping at a landed retail outlet. American Eagle Outfitters are hip locations, typically frequented by teenagers.
Teens may enjoy congregating within the store and conversing with their friends employed as sales associates. The isolation of the website and internet shopping may not appeal to the company’s core consumer base. However, the website’s youth focus is unlikely to appeal to adult shoppers as well. Third, the website fails to incorporate the company’s many different brands into a single shopping experience. The failure to link the teen oriented AE. com with the adult orient Martin + OSA, for example, may prevent consumers from recognizing that all three brands are produced by the same company.
This lack of information does not promote the cross-brand sales that are a goal of the company. To fix these problems, I would suggest creating an integrated website that includes all of the different brands within one site. This site would focus upon the adult consumer, enabling teens to continue to go to the teen-focused ae. com site if they so choose. This site would feature cross-brand specials that encourage shopping not only for one person but for the entire family, ensuring that teens who grow up wearing AEO will continue to wear the company’s adult brand.
Works Cited American Eagle Outfitters (2009). Corporate Overview. Retrieved online http://phx. corporate-ir. net/phoenix. zhtml? c=81256&p=irol-homeprofile. Business Wire (2005). American Eagle Outfitters launches ATG powered E-commerce site. Retrieved online http://www. redorbit. com/news/technology/306704/american_eagle_outfitters_launches_atg_powered_ecommerce_site/index. html. OZ. Management Information Systems. 6th ed. Course Technology INC. , 2009