The product characteristics are classified in terms of their physical and virtual attributes. The products, which appeal to one or more of the human senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell are grouped as physical goods. Those that require a minimal use of the human senses and a high level of 'intellect sense' are classified as virtual products. Luxury fashion goods naturally fall within the physical goods group while services such as travel and banking fall within the virtual products classification.
The test measures product characteristics through scoring them between 0 points (lowest) to 10 points (highest). The more virtual a product is, the higher its e-retail appeal and therefore the higher the score. In the same manner, the more physical a product is, the lower the e-retail appeal and therefore the lower the score. This evaluation is based on the principle that virtual products are more suitable for e-retail than physical products. For example, products such as clothing and shoes that could require the utilization of the senses of sight and touch have a lower score than products that are more virtual such as insurance and banking.
In the framework of this test, however, we can say that luxury goods can be classified as 'virtual' because consumers evaluate them mainly through the abstract qualities of brand perception and brand relationship. Also, the utilization of atmospheric elements in the e-store design influences the 'virtual' nature of assessing luxury goods online.
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