The NPD Group recently released results of the “E-Commerce Hot Topic” fashion footwear report. This NPD report looks across retail categories and examines consumers’ attitudes towards online footwear shopping. While more consumers have shopped online for apparel than for footwear, footwear comes out ahead in terms of sales penetration.

“Retailers have come a long way in getting consumers to engage in shopping online,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “We can see that consumers are pretty comfortable these days in this marketplace but opportunity exists to further develop the footwear category.”

Even though footwear is one of the top ten categories shopped for and purchased online, over one-quarter of consumers would rather shop in store.  Their comfort level with shopping for footwear online is low, ranked right behind grocery/prepared food and furniture.

“Converting these skeptics to believers is especially important for online retailers because those that have ever shopped online for footwear, spend half of their total footwear shopping time online,” said Cohen. “That’s a lot of time, and it’s translating into a lot of dollar sales.”

The study shows that online footwear sales for men were less than women. Females report shopping more frequently than men and they lead the pack in terms of dollars generated but men actually do a larger share of their total footwear shopping via e-commerce.

Regardless of gender, multi-brand retailer sites are the most preferred websites for online footwear shopping (by roughly three in 10). Online-only sites rank second with two in 10 shoppers. Manufacturer/brand sites rank third with 13%, and males have a slightly greater propensity to cite these as their favorite (17% vs. 10% among females).

“Popularity is one thing, purchasing is another. With one out of every four online visitors saying they follow a retailer or brand, it’s up to them now to convert them to purchasers,” said Cohen. “Social media continues to grow in importance for consumers.  Social media should be an area where brands and retailers alike focus on connecting with the consumer. This is an area in which they can develop a relationship with consumers that will ultimately drive future growth.”

[Source:  “E-Commerce Hot Topic.”  The NPD Group.  12 Sept. 2012.  Web.  19 Sept. 2012.]