Image from: Women’s Apparel / Saks.com
Brands and retailers planning for the upcoming holiday season should take note of one category that many thought would never be conducive to ecommerce: apparel. The forgone conclusion was the consumer would want to try on clothes or touch/feel the material before making a purchase. Those days are behind us. 82M consumers shopped for apparel online this spring at an online retailer. To put that number into context, about 25M consumers shop for consumables online and another 40M shop for office supplies online in a given month.
Compete recently completed an in-depth analysis to look at the online apparel consumer market across approximately 25 retailers. We limited this analysis to the apparel sections of mass merchants such as Walmart.com & Target.com; department stores such as Macys.com and Kohls.com; luxury retailers such as Nordstorm.com; specialty retailers such as Jcrew.com and the apparel section of Amazon.com.
Online tools help drive consumer engagement in apparel category
Retailers have rolled out a number of new tools recently that are improving the apparel shopping experience. Saks.com now offers the ability to watch a product video that shows a model doing a runway-like walk to see a 360 degree view. Saks online visitors are spending 15% more time on the site compared to NeimanMarcus.com.
Amazon has yet to make significant impact in apparel category
Amazon has made a noticeable effort in recent months to drive awareness of its apparel products. The online retailer made a high-profile move this spring to promote its Dress Shop on its homepage and all sponsored a fashion show in New York City, yet they are still responsible for attracting just 1% of consumers shopping for apparel online.
Apparel shoppers demonstrate high loyalty to specific retailers online
Consumer shopping trends suggest that apparel shoppers have a high degree of loyalty to specific retailers online. We looked at the average number of specialty retailers that shoppers visited during the same session in May 2012. Only 13% of specialty apparel retailer shoppers considered more than 2 retailers.
This suggests that consumers are visiting their favorite retailers online to either identify a few products to consider on an upcoming visit to the store or perhaps consumers are coming online to find an item that was not in-stock during a recent visit to the store.
The growth in the apparel category online suggests the opportunities for manufacturers to better understand how consumers are shopping online to help retailers evolve and mature their e-commerce strategies. Here are some questions every category/brand manager should be thinking about: