How consumers really shop for clothing and shoes.

How consumers really shop for clothing and shoes

Most brick-and-mortar clothing and footwear retailers appreciate the importance of having a solid online game—one that complements the in-store experience. They strive to create an omnichannel path for consumers to marry store visits with online interactions.

Lose the friction. Nurture the process. Make it convenient.

But there is one channel that rules them all, according to an Oliver Wyman study published in the Harvard Business Review ("Five Surprising Findings About How People Actually Buy Clothes and Shoes, June, 6, 2018"). And it's not digital.

Most shoppers (68 percent) who participated in the survey recalled an experience where their purchase journey began and ended at a brick-and-mortar store. Forty-three percent recalled a similar one-stop process online.

The survey of 1,500 U.S. apparel and shoe shoppers considered the totality of the process, from consideration and purchase to post-purchase. Researchers were focused on which channels influence the consumer most.

When it comes to sales volume, online has the edge. The shopping cart totals for online are 25 percent greater on average than in-store. When shoppers combine channels, beginning with brick-and-mortar store and buying online, the average cart size is 64 percent greater.

Instant gratification is often credited for online sales popularity. Researchers found evidence to suggest otherwise. Online shopping trips are more time-intensive than IRL-only shopping. This may because online shoppers visit multiple websites and/or brick-and-mortar stores on the way to checkout.

How retailers should approach omnichannel marketing.

The study is more evidence that brick-and-mortar retailers can't afford to skimp on IRL in favor of digital prowess. The name of the game is customer experience, from consideration to purchase to post-purchase. To deliver and delight, retailers need to be on task in-store and online. Aspire to an omnichannel experience that anticipates consumer questions, concerns and an IRL experience that elevates the digital process. Other thoughts:

Grab your consumer's attention: Bring your consumer into the store. Offer them in store only deals, consisting of special discounts and limited time offers.

Get them online: When consumers come into the store, remind them that more styles, colors, and sizes can be found on the website. Offer a free shipping code for the online store just for shopping in store.

Stick to single brands: Do not try and add more brands and overwhelm your customers.

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