Jeans are apparently the most difficult item of clothing to buy online, according to a new consumer survey.
Almost a third of shoppers (29.5%) identified jeans as the trickiest product to buy, followed by shoes/footwear with 18.2%.
There were also a number of bizarre responses to the open-ended question, including Appalachian dance outfits and Elizabethan ruff, however it's safe to assume that the customer experience of buying jeans is a more pressing concern for most online fashion retailers.
The wording of the question is slightly ambiguous, but it's likely that by ‘hardest’ most people are referring to problems with ordering jeans that fit properly rather than any difficulties with site UX.
With this in mind, I took a look at how ecommerce retailers are attempting to help customers make a more informed purchase decision...
ASOS gives a huge amount of information that helps to ensure the customer is making an informed decision. Alongside images every product page includes a video to help illustrate the look and design of the jeans.
The description also includes information on the model’s height and the size jeans they are wearing to help give a bit of extra context.
Finally, ASOS recently rolled out a new ‘fit visualiser’ tool which allows customers to input the measurements of clothes they already own to then compare against products on the site.
The technology, which is provided by Virtusize, has apparently had a major impact on reducing returns and is also in use by Oasis, WESC and a number of other fashion retailers.
River Island has created a category page that gives useful information on the fit for each design of jeans. It includes images, a video and details of the unique design features of each type of jeans in the collection.
It’s a neat feature and shows that River Island is aware of the issue, however it suffers from a fairly obvious flaw in that the images can’t be enlarged. The pictures are also quite dark so it’s difficult to pick out any of the details.
The product pages themselves could also work a bit harder, as River Island doesn’t currently offer any additional information aside from the usual size guide.
As with River Island, Next also has a hub page that describes the size and shape of the different jean designs, however I’m not sure many people will actually notice it.
Any users that actually do click the ‘Men’s denim’ banner are shown a couple of images and a short description of each style, which range from loose to skinny.
This feels like a bit of a token effort, and the product pages don’t really offer any additional guidance. In fact the product pages need a total revamp as they include very little information other than a few images.
Next has neglected to even include product descriptions on its page, so potential customers are left to hazard a guess as to the size and design of the jeans.
Urban Outfitters uses detailed product descriptions to help customers find the correct jeans, including useful guidance on the size and fit. As with ASOS, this includes details of the garment worn by the model in the product image.
There are also five product images, so overall I feel there’s a decent amount of information for customers to go on.
John Lewis’ product pages offer little guidance on fit upfront other than a basic size chart and very brief product description.
There is, however, a link to a ‘Men’s jeans buying guide’ that offers more detailed information on the types of jeans on offer, but it’s all a bit too broad and generic to be of much use.
It contains descriptions of six jean styles but this doesn’t take into account the unique design features of each different brand. It’s far more useful to offer guidance that’s tailored to each particular product, so at the moment I don’t feel that John Lewis is doing a great job of aiding customers in their purchase decision.
Uniqlo has also opted for a category page that outlines the different features of each of its styles of jeans. Shoppers can then browse the products based on the fit that they prefer.
This is similar to the style guidance offered by Next, however Uniqlo has made this a compulsory part of the purchase journey for everyone using the top navigation tool, so a large proportion of visitors will benefit from the style advice.
In comparison Next expects users to click on a banner in order to navigate to its fit guidance.
The product pages offer a limited but useful description alongside a size chart that’s specific to the style of jeans the customer is currently viewing.
However the use of images is inconsistent, as some pages offer seven photos while others have none at all.
American Eagle offers a comprehensive overview of its different styles, which appears as the first option in its jean navigation menu.
It gives information on nine different jean styles, including a brief description, diagram and several images. There’s also a call-to-action offering shoppers the chance to ‘View this jean’, though personally I feel ‘Shop this jean’ or ‘Buy this jean’ would be less ambiguous.
This leads to all the jeans in that particular style, so shoppers can effectively filter on the fit they’re looking for.
American Eagle’s product pages also offer a decent amount of information, including several images plus a video. The product description is useful if a bit short, but the size chart appears to be quite generic.
Department store Macy’s has a ‘Jeans Finder’ tool at the top of its category page which recommends a selection of products based on the shopper’s answers to three questions.
It asks the customer’s style, the occasion (e.g. work or casual) and the preferred wash or colour, before presenting a list of options.
Personally I don’t think this is particularly useful as it doesn’t tell you that much about the fit of the jeans, it’s just a different way of filtering down the options.
The product pages aren’t a huge help either, as the description only offers basic details. On the plus side there are several useful images.