Nine West is a designer, developer, and marketer of fashionable women’s footwear. Nine West is involved in wholesale and retail operations. A U.S. women’s shoe market represents a separate market segment in apparel industry (Nine West Group, Inc 2007). As a retailer, Nine West relies on innovations and fashion which determines main trends in this industry. Nine West capture its customers’ interest by the nature of their product range. It communicates to the customer what kind of retailer they are entering and therefore helps them in the search stage of their individual buying process (Nine West Home Page 2007). The nature of Nine West’s business is specialist retailer. The product range helps to position a retailer against its competitors within a market sector. The range is not limited but extremely specialist; it is geared towards high quality products, and those with a strong fashion element. The position that Nine West etches out in the consumer mind is a vital element of its strategy. Customers must be given a good reason to shop with one retailer rather than another. Today, the company operates about 600 stores (Nine West Yahoo Finance, 2007).
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Nine West is a multi-channel retailer selling its products through stores and online shops. For Nine West, a website is the main tool on the basis of which it carries out the transactions flow between itself and the buyer. In indirect marketing, the company utilizes the services of various types of independent marketing organizations or cooperative organizations that are located in the home country. As Internet marketing is essentially a matching process between the needs and expectations of customers, and the organization’s ability and capacity to satisfy they, the aim of the company is to create a good website to meet the needs of the customers and attract new clients.
The paper is focused on store operations. For Nine West, it is a fast growing area of business which is influenced by changing demographics, new lifestyle trends and a shift in consumers’ attitudes towards footwear and accessories. Like other companies, Nine West is influenced by the rise of globalization and internalization of trade seeking to maximize their ‘global reach’, in the belief that those that offer a global service will be in the strongest competitive position (McDonald and Dunbar, p. 43).
I chose this channel because I am a regular buyer of Nine West. I value quality, service and unique design proposed by this brand. Status and fashion are also influence the decision making process. The uniqueness of this channel is that needs and priorities of women customers differ greatly because of their lifestyle and expectations. This market is driven by customers’ behavior creating special proposition for every group of consumers. This is achieved through customization process which allows designer handbags to create a wide range of stylish products to meet the needs of different groups. I chose this particular location because it is the best place for me to monitor activities of the company and evaluate buyer behavior. The store is located in the Santa Anita Mall. The central area helps the company to attract both repeat customers and one-time purchasers.
Background of Nine West
The history of Nine West is connected with the Fisher Camuto Corporation established in 1977 by Jerome Fisher and Vincent Camuto. The Nine West group was formed only in 1991. “The company was a logical extension of business ties the two founders had formed nearly a decade earlier with manufacturers in southern Brazil, where costs associated with production were relatively low” (Nine West Group, Inc, 2007). The primary business of the company was a wholesale show business. In 1993, the company starts to sell its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. To expand its business, the company “acquired LJS Accessory Collections, Ltd., a manufacturer of women’s accessories, in January 1995” (Nine West Group, Inc, 2007). The advantage of product originality allows Nine West to create a strong brand image. Brand loyalty was important factor in increasing the costs for customers of switching the products of new competitors. At the end of the 1990s, Nine West expanded its business acquiring US-based companies (Amalfi, Evan-Picone, and Bandolino). These acquisitions doubled the company and its revenue. Using a market development strategy, Nine West captured a larger share of a market for current products through market saturation and market penetration. In 1997, the SEC announced investigation of its accounting practices. The crisis came in half a year when the company was accused in unfair pricing strategies and lost market share and its customers. In 1999, Nine West was acquired by the Jones Apparel Group for $885 million. Today, Nine West is a wholly-owned subsidiary (McDonald and Dunbar, p. 43). Getting this role right, and to a standard of expertise that is superior to that of competitors and sustainable in the longer term, requires an in-depth understanding of the nature and nuance of customer service.
Mission and Philosophy
The philosophy of the company is based on the slogan “fashion first”. Customer loyalty is the core of this business. The aim of Nine West is to seek and create committed customers, not customers who are ‘locked in’. To develop strong brand image and appeal to women-consumers, Nine West uses service-based loyalty, incentive programs, and customer loyalty programs. Innovation, value and loyalty are the keys of its philosophy. The company determines individual buyer behavior by number of factors including personal differences and tastes of women, their lifestyle and fashion trends. The quality of the company’s strategy is ultimately decided by customer perception (Nine West Home Page, 2007). Operating results such as sales and profits are measures that depend on the level of psychological value created for customers: The greater the perceived consumer value, the better the strategy. Advertising add psychological value to its products playing communication role. In this industry, it should control the circulation of ideas and influence tastes of potential consumers. The problem is that, in most cases, women buy luxury goods because of prestige but not because of absolute necessity. The mission of the company is “quality products at low prices” (Nine West Home Page, 2007). The company emphasizes connection between good levels of customer service and good levels of customer satisfaction and retention underpins the common association of customer service with keeping, rather than winning, customers. Customer service, therefore, plays a pivotal role in relationship marketing. The mix of simplicity, vividness and full range of goods helps Nine West to attract new customers, ensure customers satisfaction and increase sales (Levy and Weitz, p. 38).
The success came during the first year of its operations when “the company generated $9 million in sales” (Nine West Group, Inc 2007). In most strategic account situations, Nine West selected the incumbent sales representative at the headquarters location to be the strategic account coordinator. In this selection process, consideration was given to accounts’ needs or the skillsets required to fully develop the strategic account. This strategy helped Nine West to expand its business during the 1980s. “From 1989 to 1992, annual sales climbed from $338.7 million to $461.6 million, while net income increased more than 60 percent, from $14.3 million to $38.2 million. These increases were particularly impressive given the business environment at the time” (Nine West Group, Inc 2007). Providing for compensation and performance evaluation for achieving these objectives reinforced the relational objectives for the sales force. The crisis came at the end of the 1990s, when the company was accused in unfair pricing strategies. During the scandal, the company’s stock fell 45 percent, and it had to close some its stores and factories. The beginning of the new century was successful for Nine West. Its salespeople know how to develop an account specific promotion for which they will be held accountable both by Nine West and the customer. This requires a level of knowledge about consumer behavior, retail strategy, and marketing not heretofore required or utilized. In 2007, its review is about $255.0 million. This year sales grow by 6 % (Nine West Yahoo Finance 2007). The building of customer relationships takes time, so the company develops the skills to distinguish when sales volume shortfalls in the near-term reflect legitimate relationship-building efforts versus a true performance deficiency on the part of the salesperson (Nine West Yahoo Finance 2007).
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