Tim Britton, UK CEO, YouGov

According to our latest SixthSense Online Shopping Report, fashion is big business on the web. When we questioned our online panel of UK consumers about how much they spent buying clothes online, a fifth said they had splashed out £200 or more in the last six months. Two-thirds have bought clothes for themselves online, with 44% buying in the last six months. However, our wider retail research indicates that significantly more British people (96%) have bought something online, so why the reticence to shop for clothes?

Browsing the aisles virtually before hitting the high street is a clear trend: almost half of the consumers we surveyed look online before their shopping trips to see what’s in store. Women are the keenest online fashion browsers – 59% compared to 39% of men.

The research shows some interesting interplay between the online and offline shopping channels, with consumers frequently switching between them. The proportion of shoppers who browse online and then purchase in store (24%) is equal to the number who browse in store and then buy online. This highlights the need for retailers to provide a range of shopping experiences to suit different customer segments. Clear demographic trends can be observed in browsing and purchasing habits, with younger shoppers more likely to research online and buy in store. Women under 25 are especially likely to hit the high street after finding an item on a store’s website, 41% reporting this behaviour. In contrast, slightly older women tend to operate in reverse: 33% of 25-39-year-olds and 35% of 40-54-year-olds buy online after initially locating an item in store.

As with most ecommerce, convenience and choice are the main drivers for people to buy clothes online. However, there are significant barriers. Almost three-quarters of respondents were concerned about whether an item would fit, and 39% about its suitability. The delivery process itself was viewed as a disadvantage, with cost, being out when the delivery is made and ease of returns cause for concern.

While etailers have introduced measures to address many of these concerns, our research suggests that they need to do more to publicise them and put would-be clothes shoppers’ minds at rest if they’re to capitalise on this burgeoning market.


Published 9 December, 2010 by NMA Staff

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