The UK leads other Western European countries by some distance when it comes to ecommerce. eMarketer estimates that business-to-consumer ecommerce sales in 2014 will be almost double the second-largest market, Germany. But clothes shopping has been somewhat slow to port to the digital realm. UK consumers still prefer to buy in a physical store, for obvious reasons.
However, according to January 2014 data from Barclays, clothing—specifically, women’s clothing—saw the biggest year-over-year growth in online retail for the 2013 Christmas holiday season in the UK, at 41.9%. Clothes retailers need to sit up and take notice of the digital opportunity.
As is the case for many product categories bought online, price is the most important consideration for clothes shoppers. Indeed, January 2014 polling conducted by Redshift Research for Fits.me found that this was the primary reason for 31% of UK digital clothes buyers and a secondary reason for 21%.
The gender split for these preferences was weighted toward males. Of those who cited price as a primary consideration, most were men (59% of the total), as was the case for those citing it as a secondary reason (56%).
Redshift Research’s study found that more women made online clothes purchases on tablets than their male counterparts—14% said that was the device used for their most recent purchase, vs. 9% of males.
And herein lies a potential opportunity for those looking to attract female clothes shoppers into digital. In the physical world—while women like to snap up a bargain from the clothes rails—their visit to the apparel aisles is just as much about the experience. And this is something that hasn’t really been replicated in the digital realm. But, the fact that more women than men prefer to shop for clothes on tablets—which provide a better “experience” than other digital shopping methods—perhaps indicates that women are keen to shop for clothes online when this better kind of experience is provided. In addition, this takeup suggests that some retailers are indeed providing a better experience.
Of course, the tactile interface of tablets more closely replicates the catalog shopping experience, and catalog browsing continues to play an important role in the purchase intentions of UK consumers. By bringing together a digital cataloglike experience and a digital purchasing tool, clothes retailers stand to win big from a clearly engaged shopping public.
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