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What matters to fashion shoppers across the globe?

What are customers looking for when shopping for fashion online? / Freestocks via Unsplash

With the Covid-19 pandemic precipitating perhaps the biggest shift to online shopping we’ve ever seen, Carly Price, global head of marketing at Croud, looks at the data. What are online fashion shoppers really looking for in 2021?

Amid lockdowns and social distancing, consumers have been forced to make their purchases online and the trend is, seemingly, here to stay. According to our research, 60% of shoppers expect to purchase clothing online more in the next six months, particularly in the US (65%).

However, one size does not fit all when it comes to international e-commerce, and brands and retailers need to invest in understanding the nuances of each market in order to succeed on a global stage. With this in mind, at Croud we’ve recently launched our State of online fashion in 2021 report, which explores how online shopping behaviors and preferences vary across markets.

Here we’ll look at some of that report’s key findings – including where shoppers are the most discount-driven; the key discovery and research channels in each market; and Amazon’s role in fashion e-commerce in the UK, US, Germany and Italy.

What online fashion shoppers want from retailers

We asked consumers what motivates them to shop online for clothing and footwear. Discounts were the top driver for both British (23%) and Italian (33%) online shoppers. Structuring promotions in order to drive value for both customers and bottom line remains key; my colleague Caroline Buckingham advises that businesses remain selective of promotional pushes because often-repeated promotions can lead to fatigue.

Digging deeper into the top motivator per market, online reviews are particularly important in the US (the biggest motivator for 13% of respondents), while in Germany 29% of respondents said that being able to browse a variety of products was their top motivator.

Online shopping does have its downsides: shoppers consistently identified fit, sizing and the inability to ‘try before you buy’ as notable barriers. Perhaps, though, more comprehensive size guides and the introduction of virtual and augmented reality ‘try-ons’ could be a solution.

Sustainability remains high on shoppers’ radars. It is a basic expectation for many European consumers and should not be viewed as a differentiator or USP; 51% of respondents in Italy and 44% in the UK said it was an important factor when buying clothing and footwear online. With consumers becoming increasingly wise to greenwashing, brands must ensure that they have the relevant industry-recognized accreditations before making any claims.

Where fashion shoppers go to discover, research and buy

In online shopping journeys, 55% of shoppers across markets start by visiting specific retailers’ or brands’ sites for clothing or footwear. In the UK, this method is particularly popular, rising to 64%. German (56%) and Italian (68%) shoppers tend to start with fashion marketplaces, such as Asos, Zalando and Farfetch.

Search also remains a key discovery point for shoppers internationally: 55% of shoppers in the UK use Google or another search engine when starting their online shopping journey.

It is, however, important that newer channels are not neglected. My colleague Duncan Nichols says: “With 10% of shoppers in the UK starting their fashion purchases on TikTok, the platform should be an important part of any media mix.”

Social networking sites certainly have a major influence on fashion shoppers, with 25-44-year-olds being most receptive to completing a purchase via a social app.

Consumers continue to seek inspiration from a range of sources. Over 50% of respondents internationally go to family and friends, while non-digital channels such as TV and fashion magazines also proved to be popular (especially in Germany, which also has the largest proportion of impulse shoppers).

Amazon’s role in fashion e-commerce

Amazon is a key discovery point across markets – markedly so in the US (at 60%), but much less so in the UK (37%), despite almost nine in ten residents there reportedly using Amazon to shop. Shoppers use Amazon to check prices and reviews, and to gather more product information, regardless of where they eventually end up making the purchase online or offline. The retailer has been leading the way with fashion initiatives and partnerships in the US, and it is predicted that other markets will follow the same trend.

Shoppers internationally now expect choice, discounts, convenience, sustainability, reviews and quality when shopping for clothing and footwear online. But there’s also a clear desire for flexibility, innovation and, increasingly, authenticity. There are many paths to improving engagement and revenue. That’s what makes marketing a brand difficult, but also exciting.

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