Amazon and Brand Websites Draw Gen Z and Millennial Apparel Shoppers
In our 2019 Forecast On U.S. Apparel Shoppers, we discovered that 63 percent of Gen Z and 57 percent of millennial shoppers are buying their apparel from Amazon.com. These consumers are being driven by free shipping, easy returns and mobile-friendly experiences.
“Young shoppers are also buying apparel directly from brand websites, which speaks to how brand investments in digital equity — be it through storytelling, lifestyle advocacy or a unique experience — can really pay off with Gen Z and millennials,” says Nii Ahene, COO of CPC Strategy.
Understanding what drives purchase decisions for Gen Z and millennials is crucial for retailers, as their collective shopping power amounts to over $200 billion and will drive the majority of online growth in 2019 and beyond.
Consumers Becoming More Comfortable With Buying Clothing Online
Long gone are the days when buying clothes online was taboo. This year we saw an increase in shoppers that identified as buying apparel online regularly (at least once a month) and frequently (once a week).
The increase in regular and frequent online apparel shoppers shows that retailers’ investments in improving the online apparel experience, be it through improved selections, returns, shipping, etc., is paying off.
This boost in online apparel confidence is supported by larger trends that project the industry reaching a value of $118 billion in 2019.
Amazon and Brand Websites Are Clear Favorites
When it comes to Gen Z and millennials, Amazon is the top destination for online apparel, with brand websites coming in second place among a field of contenders that includes Walmart, Target, eBay, Poshmark, Etsy, and more.
“Although Amazon may be the apparel website of choice for younger shoppers, most age groups are browsing and buying clothing across multiple shopping channels, which speaks to the need for brands and retailers to invest in a strategic multichannel strategy to engage with apparel shoppers across multiple touchpoints,” explains Ahene.
This begs the question: What draws younger consumers to these two shopping channels?
Both Amazon and brand websites offer very distinct experiences. Amazon’s Marketplace encourages shoppers to discover, browse and compare thousands of brands with easy-to-navigate reviews, images and price points. Brand websites, on the other hand, offer a very different experience that focuses on a specific catalog. These brands have built up equity with a specific type of customer through storytelling that evokes values and lifestyle.
There are very specific features that draw apparel consumers to both Amazon and brand websites.
Consumers Expect Free and Fast Shipping, Mobile-Friendly Experiences
When asked which features they valued most when shopping for apparel, over 53 percent of respondents rated free and fast shipping as most important.
It’s safe to say that in a market where half of all U.S. households will become Prime Members by 2019, Amazon has undeniably set the cadence for free and fast shipping — even if the “free” shipping is hidden in an annual fee.
Free two-day and same-day shipping has become the new normal for most consumers, therefore retailers will need to consider if they want to sell on or off Amazon (or both).
In addition to free shipping, our survey shows that mobile is catching up to desktop for apparel shoppers, with 43 percent of respondents saying that they now prefer mobile to browse and shop for apparel.
This becomes even more important when you consider the fact that m-commerce sales are predicted to comprise 44.7 percent of total U.S. e-commerce sales in 2019, up from 39.6 percent in 2018.
Shoppers expect the same experience they can get from desktop shopping on their mobile phones, especially if they're browsing in-store or on-the-go as many of today’s younger shoppers often do.
If there’s anything that retailers should take away from our latest apparel study, it’s that shopping channels matter.
Apparel retailers (and retailers in general) need to continually invest and improve the digital experience both on Amazon and on their brand websites. That means building up your cross-channel storytelling, optimizing your digital media strategy to leverage rich branded content, and incorporating the same features (e.g., fast shipping, reviews, etc.) that draw consumers to Amazon into your brand’s website.
Greg Swan is a content specialist at CPC Strategy, a performance marketing agency specializing in driving growth across Amazon, Google, and social media.
Related story: How to Appeal to Gen Z Shoppers and Keep Them Coming Back
Greg Swan is a content specialist at CPC Strategy, a performance marketing agency specializing in driving growth across Amazon, Google, and social.
Greg graduated from CSU Sacramento with a degree in International Relations. After teaching English in Istanbul, he returned to California to pursue writing about tech and digital marketing.