Astound Insights Finds That the Physical Store is Still the Top Determinant for Fashion Purchases, Despite the Rise of Ecommerce

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Latest study reveals that ecommerce pushes brick-and-mortar stores to change but not disappear, and uncovers the changing ways consumers purchase fashion products

The US apparel industry is one of the largest fashion markets in the world, with an approximate value of $342 billion. However, this market is changing rapidly as consumers increasingly flock to digital channels. Ecommerce now makes up more than 21 percent of US apparel sales, and is expected to see 10 percent growth annually through 2020, highlighting the potential in digital fashion sales.

To better understand consumer shopping behavior and uncover key strategies for success in the fashion industry, Astound Insights conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers, covering the essential aspects of modern shopping. In “A Window into the Fashion Shopper’s World,” topics span the role of the store, Amazon’s fashion ambitions, the continued rise of mobile commerce, and emerging channels like voice assistants.

“New retail formats and channels are spurring huge changes in the market, and have already caused brands and manufacturers to completely rethink their strategies. The combination of digital and brick and mortar has been a dynamic force in the industry, and given rise to a host of new business models,” says Igor Gorin, CEO of Astound Commerce. “Younger consumers are behind many of these digital shifts, as they flock to new channels and disruptive companies, placing a huge amount of pressure on traditional players to adapt and innovate to stay competitive.”

Stores still play a role in consumers’ buying decisions, but that role is evolving.
The increasing popularity of digital shopping has caused concern for many physical store owners, as the report found that 40 percent of shoppers make more than half of their purchases online. However, the results prove that physical stores still contribute to many consumers’ shopping decisions:

  • Store environment impacts consumer decisions: 59 percent of respondents said the physical store experience contributes to their decision to purchase from that retailer, showcasing that the store is still the top purchase factor for consumers.
  • Stores have to be exciting to compete with ecommerce: In fact, 61 percent of millennials are highly likely to leave the store if they find the experience unexciting.
  • Physical store issues haven’t changed: 76 percent of fashion shoppers become frustrated when the color or size they want is out of stock, and 60 percent of consumers are highly likely to leave the store when confronted with this problem. Internet-conditioned shoppers expect a wide assortment of products in store as well.
  • Consistent pricing keeps customers: If pricing is different in store than online, 53 percent of shoppers are highly likely to leave that store, as they expect the same experience across channels.

Amazon, which leads in most categories, is catching up in fashion.
From a seamless buyer experience to streamlined shipping, Amazon has mastered the digital sphere. But when it comes to fashion, most shoppers turn elsewhere. Over half of respondents make Amazon purchases for convenience and delivery speed, but few care to browse Amazon’s private label fashion products.

  • Amazon is not the fashion leader: Only one out of four shoppers ranked Amazon as “highly fashionable.” And, only 26 percent of shoppers ranked Amazon’s private label fashion brands as a factor in making purchases on Amazon vs. other retailers.
  • Amazon wins with speed: 57 percent of respondents said the speed of delivery is the most important factor in their shopping decision, and 55 percent said Amazon’s competitive prices were the winning variable for their purchase over physical stores and other websites.
  • Shoppers begin their search here: 46 percent of consumers preferred Amazon over department stores in the beginning of their fashion search due to its broad assortment of apparel and wide range of products carried from their favorite brands.

Retailers are getting creative with their stores and channel approaches
The retail industry continues to make strides in mobile applications and repurposing of physical stores. Online-first companies like Warby Parker are experimenting with physical storefronts where consumers can try on items before making their online orders. Additionally, Amazon sold over 20 million Amazon devices last year, and companies are developing capabilities that make it convenient for consumers to browse and purchase through this new channel. Key findings about new and emerging shopping channels include:

  • Voice is the next emerging platform: Shoppers have been slow to complete purchases through voice devices, but the study shows that the channel has promise - 47 percent of consumers use voice technology to browse products, and 37 percent plan to use it to make fashion purchases in the next year.
  • Mobile commerce is still growing: 73 percent of shoppers have used mobile devices when researching and purchasing fashion apparel. Females were the most active on mobile, with 81 percent reporting they’ve used the mobile channel within the last six months to search for fashion apparel.
  • New store models show promise: 49 percent of consumers have shopped at physical stores from online-first retailers like Warby Parker, and 48 percent of consumers have shopped at physical stores that serve as showrooms (Bonobos), signaling that creative store models entice consumers to shop.
  • Curated shopping services continue to grow: Subscription services have attracted more than 11 million subscribers, and 36 percent of online shoppers have tried a curated shopping service like Stitch Fix or Trunk Club, with saving time the top reason for use (56 percent).

“If we understand how consumers shop, we can adjust to their needs,” furthers Gorin. “Technology offers a massive opportunity for retailers to optimize the customer experience, but without a detailed understanding of their target market preferences, it can be difficult to decide where to invest time and resources. Providing a seamless shopping experience across every channel is an expectation among fashion shoppers, and is key to maintaining an edge over the competition, and more importantly, Amazon.”

To learn more about the latest consumer trends in fashion and view the full results of the ““A Window into the Fashion Shopper’s World,” click here.

About Astound Commerce
Astound Commerce, the world's largest independent digital commerce agency, combines strategy, technology, creativity, insight and a proven methodology to deliver exceptional digital shopping experiences. Through a forward-thinking, results-driven approach, Astound Commerce serves leading global brands such as adidas, L’Oréal, Under Armour, Jimmy Choo, Lacoste and Versace. Founded in San Francisco in 2000, the passionate team of over 700 dedicated, diverse industry and technology experts has decades of ecommerce experience and more than 400 implementations under their belt to address the complex challenges, advancing technologies and unique needs of global markets. To learn more, visit astoundcommerce.com.

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Kyle Rall
Walker Sands Communications
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