While apparel retailers are out there optimizing their websites and trying other tricks to attract customers, half of the “fashion shoppers” identified by Astound Commerce said they purchase more than a quarter (26 percent) of their apparel, footwear and accessories on Amazon. What’s more, a larger portion of men (57 percent) and millennials (62 percent) admitted to this purchasing behavior, too.
Even as Amazon tries to push into apparel with services like Prime Wardrobe and devices like Echo Look, the fashion industry continues to give the “everything store” the proverbial side eye for the e-commerce giant’s rather staid and stodgy storefront. Shopping for clothes, shoes, jewelry and more on Amazon comes with very little of the sleek imagery found on most fashion e-commerce sites. And yet, consumers are buying—and giving Amazon pretty good marks as well.
In Astound’s research, one in four shoppers described Amazon as “highly fashionable”—not an outstanding vote—but a more positive 69 percent said the retailer is “somewhat fashionable.” Amazon’s run-of-the-mill product presentation isn’t holding fashion shoppers back, as speed (57 percent), price (55 percent) and assortment (46 percent) emerged as the top-three reasons for shopping on the e-commerce site. Of note, Amazon’s private labels seem to be gaining traction with consumers, as 26 percent cite the retailer’s own brands as a motivator for purchasing on the platform.
Amazon even got a nod for the usefulness of its edit, cited by 38 percent as helpful to simplifying shopping. Though brick-and-mortar typically is the go-to for need-it-now moments, more than one-third (35 percent) of surveyed consumers said they shop Amazon when instant gratification is of the utmost importance.
Men overindexed in describing Amazon as a destination to discover trend-right products, 32 percent versus 19 percent of women. Cost-conscious men also were more likely to look to Amazon for rock-bottom prices, 50 percent versus 37 percent of women.
Astound Commerce also set out to uncover fashion shoppers behaviors in store, online and via mobile. Its research alit upon many complaints common to physical stores; 60 percent of shoppers abandon a purchase due to size/color stockouts, and 47 percent walk away empty-handed due to unforgivably long lines or difficulty finding a store associate, for example. Given all the talk of turn stores into “experience centers,” it should come as no surprise that 47 percent of fashion shoppers—and 61 percent of millennials—would leave a store because it’s just not exciting enough.
Even store sales associates get a mixed review from Astound’s consumer cohort. Most troubling, 61 percent of surveyed shoppers believe store staff is more concerned with stocking shelves than with assisting customers. Shoppers were evenly split on associates’ use of technology; 56 percent said the use of tech helped the customer experience, while 55 percent said it didn’t really improve their shopping journey. Another 53 percent would prefer not to talk to sales staff at all and would opt to interact with technology, perhaps kiosks or mounted tablets, instead. This could indicate a deficiency in staff training and other areas for personnel improvement.
Fashion shoppers, of course, involve their smartphones in their brick-and-mortar shopping excursions, most commonly using the devices to access coupons for immediate use (76 percent). They’re also comparing prices on Amazon and other retailers in equal numbers (70 percent). Another 70 percent of impatient shoppers confronted with an in-store stock admitted to using their smartphone to purchase their desired item from a competitor. Though mobile self checkout is not widely deployed in the U.S., especially among fashion retailers, consider that 57 percent said they used their smartphone for this activity in store.
Looking at brick-and-mortar’s digital counterpart, Astound discovered similar frustrations when a desired product was out of stock in the right size or color (76 percent). As just about any online apparel shopper knows, finding the right size and fit in any given item at any given brand can be a headache-worthy guessing game, especially when shopping an unfamiliar brand. That’s why 48 percent of surveyed shoppers describe fit and sizing tools are very important to the online experience—and why companies like TrueFit and Fitcode have been investing heavily in this area. More than one third (38 percent) of shoppers said they’d buy more fashion online if size tools would help them locate products that fit properly. Retailers should be concerned that 54 percent of shoppers said they don’t bother buying apparel and footwear online because it’s too hard to get the size right—and they don’t want the hassle of potentially returning ill-fitting items.
Given that so much style inspiration and fashion discovery happens on social media and on the street, consumers’ ever-present smartphones have become the de facto tool for searching for—and buying—clothing, accessories and more. With 38 percent year-over-year growth, mobile commerce reached $151 billion in 2017, accounting for 34 percent of all e-commerce sales.
Curiously, Astound’s research lumps browsing and buying into a single behavioral category, though studies have shown for years that consumers tend to use their smartphones and tablets for research and browsing, and convert in stronger numbers on desktop PCs. However, Astound’s data shows that desktop (76 percent) and mobile (73 percent) are close to neck-and-neck when looking at browsing and buying behavior together. Stores (79 percent) maintain a slight edge over both of those digital channels.
Women (81 percent)—known for their affinity for shopping—and millennials (79 percent) lead in mobile usage for fashion shopping, while men (66 percent) lag. Astound’s research reveals an increasing comfort with using mobile apps and mobile webs to purchase. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) have made 10 or more fashion purchases through mobile app, and another 31 percent have completed five to nine transactions, according to Astound.
The numbers were similar for transactions via mobile web, which likely were optimized, responsive sites tailored to the small form factor. Just more than a quarter (26 percent) made 10 or greater purchases, and 30 percent made five to nine purchases using mobile websites. Just 18 percent and 14 percent said they’d never purchased through an app or website, respectively, and 33 percent would buy more if mobile design were faster or more convenient.
When asked about fashion retail apps, millennials (66 percent) downloaded these to their phones above the average of 45 percent, and more often used apps for browsing and buying, 70 percent versus the 49 percent average.
Fashion shoppers in need of customer service will most commonly email (55 percent) brands and retailers. However, an equal percentage—38 percent—said they would visit a physical store or dial up a call center when as issue arises. Just 32 percent turn to a chat platform or instant messenger, and social media lags with 25 percent of fashion shoppers using these sites for assistance.