The Rise of Online Shopping
A common objection to online shopping is that customers like to feel and touch an item before they buy it. Savvy ‘e-tailers’ have overcome this barrier in various ways. Many online fashion sites include interactive catwalks, 360 degrees rotation, advanced zoom facilities and hover boxes. The ability to browse by filter options such as size, price and colour add to the user friendliness of fashion sites. Many incentivise through a wider range of online content such as exclusive items and a range of convenient delivery and return options – some even free of charge! Niche sites such as cigarette bins retailer http://www.bins-direct.com/ experience a strong grip of the cigarette bin market due to their position online.
The current trend is the ‘omni-channel’ consumer. This type of consumer will use several platforms almost simultaneously in making purchase decisions. It would seem that customers are taking more of an integrated approach by window shopping online before hitting the high street to purchase. Furthermore, emerging social and mobile platforms make up the wider consumer journey to purchase. While users shopping for clothes through social and mobile channels are in its infancy, fashion retailers engagement with consumers over social channels is continuing to grow. However don’t only jump on the social bandwagon for the sake of a box ticking exercise.
To gain engagement, best practice lies in careful analysis and understanding of what your customer is expecting from you. You don’t necessarily have to set up shop on social media but can be used to attract people to your website through competitions and special offers. It is also a means of users getting direct answers from questions or complaints they may have.
The touch and feel barrier of e-tail has been a difficult one for fashion retailers, where consumers prefer tangible factors before making a purchase. While this may have had an impact on the rate at which consumers have taken to buying clothes online compared to items from other sectors such as travel, it has meant the fashion industry has taken the appropriate steps to integrate the online channel with the high street as a wider shopping experience.
The UK Fashion Retail Report (2011) found that 45% of consumers prefer to shop online to make a purchase. What attracts you to online shopping?
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