Examining the online apparel retail customer experience
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By Brooke Patton, research content specialist, GutCheck
While online and offline shopper journeys are becoming increasingly intertwined, in many cases due to the omnichannel approach of shopping, retailers are struggling to understand how this defines consumer segments and what influences the shopper journey.
The apparel industry, in particular, is straddling both sides of this omnichannel approach: For those focused on growing brick and mortar sales, they're trying to make the most out of the value of those in-person interactions. On the other hand, many retailers are focused on taking advantage of the ease and convenience of e-commerce by identifying ways to offer better or similar benefits to shopping in-person through digital tactics. Understanding what tactics to incorporate, however, starts with a better understanding of consumers and their online shopping journey.
Consumer insights can help brands in a variety of apparel categories better target and message to different online shoppers. In fact, using the results from a recent attitudes and usage study, retailers can learn about the specific barriers, triggers, and overall shopping experience for different segments of apparel shoppers in the e-commerce space.
From the findings, retail apparel brands can also can understand more about online apparel shoppers and determine what tactics they should take to encourage more online purchases with regard to their e-commerce offering—and relative to the different types of online apparel consumers.
The online apparel shopper is looking for convenience and lower prices when it comes to purchasing their favorite casual clothing and shoes from brands and retailers they know.
Consumers are currently buying — and most comfortable buying — more casual clothing and shoes online. They often purchase these items from brands or retailers they've purchased from before in order to save time and browse the large variety of items available online.
More fitted and less familiar items will require better sizing and fit guidance as a result. Being able to save time and browse a large variety of items online is also more appealing to online shoppers. Highlighting the availability of more apparel choices specific to colors, styles or patterns, could provide a competitive advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers.
The online apparel shopper journey often starts at home and ends with the consumer purchasing up to three items.
Differences do exist in the journey of varying types of online shoppers. However, most often they are starting at an aggregate retailer and visiting a total of two sites during a single online shopping experience.
Furthermore, many consumers spend 30 minutes to an hour browsing; those who are spending more time doing so are likely to result in a purchase in order to avoid wasted efforts. On average, many online apparel shoppers purchase up to three apparel items at any given sitting. So, as consumers are spending more time on a brand's site, offering them discounts or recommended items could encourage a purchase.
Targeting specific consumer segments by age or gender can help personalize and improve the online apparel shopping experience.
This insight is not surprising. Smaller apparel retailers or those that already cater to unique customer segments have an advantage as targeting specific consumer segments by age or gender can help personalize and improve the online apparel shopping experience.
Depending on the type of online shopper, certain variations in barriers, triggers, and online behaviors also exist. For example, Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, men, and women all have unique aspects of their online shopping experience that should be resolved or messaged to by online retailers.
Either way, incorporating a few of these insights and their recommended actions can help retailers better leverage their e-commerce advantages and appeal to more consumers across their shopper journey.