How to Connect Discovery and Tactile Experiences With Digital Technology for Apparel Shoppers
It should come as no surprise to learn that apparel is the No. 1 product category in retail commerce. In 2018, revenue is projected to reach $103.66 billion, accounting for 19.77 percent of total e-commerce sales.
That said, apparel shoppers are a very tactile group. They like to see and feel the clothing in person. These "omnishoppers" often go into stores to look, then go home and buy online — regularly from the same retailer’s website. Others research online first, then explore further in stores. Approximately one-third (32 percent) of U.S. internet users are more likely to complete a clothing purchase at a physical store rather than online.
Given the overwhelming shift toward omnishopping, there are five critical behavior patterns to understand when setting apparel retail strategies:
Multiple Generations Are Driving Apparel Shopping Shifts
In 2017, millennials were the only age group whose apparel shopping rate grew — increasing 4 percent, or $2 billion in incremental sales. Deeper-pocketed baby boomers made 20 percent of all apparel sales. Gen Z is also a strong presence. They’re shopping with their allowance and/or money from part-time jobs.
Interestingly though, Gen Z is more devoted to their mobile devices than other generations. They have an abiding love for the “IRL” (in real life) retail experience. This is largely because they're more frustrated than are other generations with the online shopping experience — 38 percent of them say it’s hard for them to find what they want online. Millennials are the quintessential omnishopper: in-store and online (including social media).
Do Not Ignore the Power of Spring
The holiday shopping season, now stretching from September through the end of December, still takes first place in sales numbers. But spring shopping is a close second. After a long, cold winter, people are more than ready to buy warm-weather apparel. Compared to January, apparel purchases increase 24 percent in April, and 22 percent in May.
Mobile is gradually growing its position in apparel sales, therefore, it’s important for retailers to be relentless in strengthening their mobile presence. Mobile is a key step in the omnishopping experience, and for many it’s the final step. Dollars spent on enhancing your mobile user experience will definitely translate to increased revenue.
Shoppers Do Their Due Diligence
It’s no surprise that men and women have different items on their shopping lists. But overall, women tend to spend a bit more time researching their purchases than men do. With pants, for instance, women take 8 percent longer than men. Men, on the other hand, take longer to buy shorts. While the average apparel purchase cycle is under one week, more expensive items like coats and jackets take longer to buy.
‘Happy Holidays’ by September
It’s not your imagination, holiday shopping is starting earlier each year. Retailers are now urged to start “owning the shelf” as early as September to ensure they have a strong presence from day one of the holiday shopping season. And, of course, Black Friday is still the king of all shopping days. While conversions peak that day, they continue to be strong through the end of the year thanks to year-end sales and all of the retail gift cards that were gifted over the holidays.
Though all apparel items are popular purchases over the holidays, shirts see a noticeable spike, probably because pants, shoes and accessories are harder to gift. Shirts are also a big category that contains many types of SKUs, such as classic button-downs, sweaters, tees, tank-tops, and blouses.
This year make sure you own the shelf year-round and are providing all of the apparel your shoppers want, whatever time of year and wherever they are — online or in-store.
John Roswech is executive vice president, brand solutions at Criteo, an advertising platform for the open internet.