Knowledge@Wharton

Human Resources Casual Wear in the Office: Dressing for Success or Dressing for Stress?
You would have to be a fashion cretin not to notice the casual wear trend that has swept through U.S. companies in the last few years, starting of course on the high-tech/ dot-com West coast and moving most recently to East coast investment banks, consulting companies and law firms. In offices throughout the U.S. and abroad, three-piece suits and wingtips are morphing into more and more creative versions of casual, ranging from designer slippers to suits that can be worn as separates. What exactly does ‘casual wear’ mean, and how is it faring in the work-place? Knowledge@Wharton offers a few observations.

Health Economics: These Days on the Internet, RX-rated Beats X-rated
Consider it a sign of the times: More consumers now use the Internet to search for health care information – and to buy health-care related products – than they do to search for pornography. Wharton health care professor Sean Nicholson and a group of researchers are currently studying this trend by analyzing data from the Wharton Center for Electronic Commerce’s virtual test market. Specifically they are looking at two related areas: First, patterns of behavior among individuals who use the Internet for health related purposes and second, the implications of these patterns for consumers, doctors, pharmaceutical companies and health-related Internet companies, including online drug stores and for-profit content sites.

Operations Management: With Billions of Bytes of Customer Data, How Can Retailers Be “Starved for Information”?
These days, it seems that both traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers and online “e-tailers” are drowning in a sea of customer information, including data from online transactions, point-of-service scanners, membership programs and even sensor chips on shopping carts. The question is, with all this sophisticated technology on hand, why have department store markdowns over the last 20 years grown from 8% to 33% of sales? And why are customers still going away dissatisfied because what they want isn’t in stock? In an article entitled “Rocket Science Retailing Is Almost Here – Are You Ready?” in the July-August 2000 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Wharton operations professor Marshall Fisher and two co-authors take a hard look at why many retailers are “awash in data but starved for information.”

Marketing Hit and Miss: Why High Traffic Streams Need not Lead to More Online Business
If your web store is getting zillions of hits a month, business must be skyrocketing, right? Not necessarily. Many on-line retailers monitor visitor traffic as a measure of their stores’ success. But in a study they assert is one of the first in-depth analyses of online visiting behavior using Internet clickstream data, two Wharton researchers explain why high traffic streams to a website need not necessarily mean an increase in business. Peter Fader, a professor of marketing, and Ph.D. student Wendy Moe point out that commonly used measures of web store success – such as number of hits, page views, and average time spent at a site-provide only generalized information about customers.

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