“As we enter the second decade of E‑Commerce it becomes more important for retailers, and perhaps even more so for fashion retailers, to use their online properties to offer an evolved shopping experience, a three-dimensional shopping experience. That is to combine the two dimensions of Brick & Mortar, the ‘touch and feel’ with the ‘information and impulse’ of the online experience,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc.
The category that most consumers reported having shopped for online (researched or browsed, regardless of whether a purchase resulted) in the past 12 months were books, stationery or office supplies (48%). The apparel and consumer electronics categories follow, each with 46%. Rounding out the fashion categories 34% of consumers said they shopped for footwear online and 25% said they shopped for fashion accessories.
When asked when the last time they researched or browsed online was, 54% of those who shop for apparel online said they did so in the last month — compared to 33% for footwear shoppers and 28% of fashion accessories shoppers.
“Apparel has come a long way in getting consumers to engage online,” said Cohen, “Footwear took the early lead, and we can see that consumers are pretty comfortable purchasing apparel online these days. There seems to be a real opportunity for fashion accessories to get in the online game.”
With all of the researching and browsing traffic, how much of that activity converted to an actual purchase? This past year, category shoppers were asked if they only browsed online or if they purchased online as well. Seventy-three percent said they both shopped and bought apparel online, 62% of footwear shoppers also purchased and 56% of fashion accessories shoppers converted into buyers.
“Converting the sale online should be the very next focus for fashion sales online,” noted Cohen, “Getting the consumer to go from browsing to purchasing takes new information beyond just product photos and price. It takes convincing the consumer to push the purchase button.”
NPD’s report also asked consumers about the impact of social media on their online shopping behavior.
Twenty-five percent of online shoppers say they follow a retailer or brand on a social media site. When asked if they ever shopped for a product online as a result of something they had seen on a social media site 27% said that they had. Females were significantly more likely than males to report these behaviors.
“Popular 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 report." The NPD Group. 24 Jan. 2012. Web. 8 Feb. 2012.]