Since e-commerce first became a force with impact on the fashion world in the late 90s, marketers have tended to silo their initiatives into what they do in a real world store V's what they do on an e-commerce website. E-commerce was determined to be of an entirely different fabric than ‘retail’. But if you look at the actual shopping behavior of fashionistas globally, they beg to differ.
Apparel shoppers may try an item on in-store but decide to skip the checkout and order online for convenient home delivery. They also might have browsed through the latest spring fashion picks and then decided to buy those items during their next trip to the high street. Fashion discovery and purchase today is an interplay that transcends channels: both ‘webrooming’ (seeing online, buying in store) and ‘showrooming’ (trying in store but buying online) are the new norm.
Showrooming at one time was considered to be a dangerous thing. If shoppers could see it or try it on in a store, but buy it online, why would they possibly stay loyal to that retailer? That sort of behavior does go on, but smart retailers are realizing that price checking is just one aspect of shopper behavior.
Criteo surveyed 600 UK online shoppers in 2016 about what they did in store on their mobile phones and found out that yes, 30% said they were checking prices, but 26% were looking up product details, 22% were looking at reviews and 18% wanted to determine stock availability. If retailers encourage their shoppers to use their own sites, they can actually lessen the need to keep large stocks of inventory on the premises and make sure their customers get all the information they need in times when the store is crowded and the sales clerks may not have time to help each customer.
Webrooming has always gone on online with products in high ticket purchases that require a lot of research prior to the purchase. While it was once confined to purchases like consumer electronics, with better apparel and accessories brand sites that are content focused it has become a part of how consumers shop in fashion and beauty.
When you consider that millennials – the first generation to grow up entirely online – are the current drivers of apparel purchasing, you realize the potential. These twenty and thirtysomethings are being influenced online by style around the globe. They develop preferences and engage online before they get to a store and then the information gathering likely continues once they have checked the fit for themselves.
How can fashion brands and retailers stand out in this omnichannel world?
1.Encourage shoppers in-store to engage with the brand online. Mobile optimized sites contain not just pertinent information, but also editorial to encourage putting together a look and drive impulse purchasing.
2. Optimize product photography and whenever possible, enable 360° rotation of the product. Fashion is all about the detail and images have to work doubly hard due to their size online.
3. Surface reviews that comment on the sizing. Lack of standardization in sizing is the most common reason cited for the high return rate in fashion e-commerce.
4. Tell a story. Just as the best fashion sites tell a brand and lifestyle story, the best retail experiences do the same. H&M is leading this trend with its concept '& Other Stories’, a destination that looks like a lifestyle blog, marries storytelling and e-commerce.
5. Increase your presence through paid. Fashion brands that sell on department store sites, as well as fashion aggregators, should increase their presence through paid. The ads will serve content relevant to that user’s past shopping profile as well as to what they are currently browsing.
Summer fashion is here now and these simple techniques can enhance your relationships with your best fashion customers – regardless of where they choose to shop. This time last year, the most searched apparel and accessories terms on the UK Criteo Sponsored Products Network were ‘fascinators’ and ‘maxi dresses’.
Visit here for more data and trends on the apparel consumer.
Paul Dahill, Senior Sales Director, Brand Solutions EMEA, Criteo.
Tel: +1 (646) 410-0400