Retail has been constantly reinventing itself, and participants race to keep up with what feels like a series of epic shifts in consumer preferences. To get a clearer, more-complete picture, HBR studied actual decisions made by 1,500 apparel and footwear shoppers. Below are five of their most surprising findings:


Myth: Shopping has become truly omnichannel.
Fact: Most journeys are still overwhelmingly single-channel, though this is changing.

The study suggests that 83% of shopping journeys still happen within a single channel — overwhelmingly in traditional stores, which account for almost 80% of apparel purchases today.



Myth:
The sales channel doesn’t matter.
Fact: When consumers purchase online, they tend to buy more.

Shopping journeys concluding in online purchases have baskets that are 25% larger, on average. When someone first visits a physical store and then purchases online, the effect is even more pronounced: Baskets are 64% larger.



Myth:
Online shopping is about instant gratification.

Fact: Online journeys tend to be longer than in-store.

57% of shopping journeys that conclude with an online purchase begin with a consumer either first looking at another website (29%), visiting a brick-and-mortar store (15%), or both (13%) before ultimately transacting online through any particular retailer. The other 43% of journeys that conclude with an online purchase are one-stop journeys that begin and end with the same online retailer.



Myth:
The retailer doesn’t matter.

Fact: Spend is dramatically higher at brand stores and websites than in multi-brand stores.

Direct-to-consumer brand stores and websites generate revenues 86% higher than purchases of those same brands elsewhere — and, of course, better margins.



Myth:
Consumers always want something new.

Fact: Very often, they are happy to buy the same or a similar item.

Fast fashion has become a buzzword for apparel makers, but many consumers are simply looking to replace an item they already have. This is especially true in intimates and basics, but also in fashion, where the aim of 83% of shopping journeys is repeat purchases, and athletic products (87%).



Eventually, brands and retailers should integrate their e-commerce units into the rest of their commercial organisations, replacing channels that compete for sales from the same customer with a structure that puts the customer first. In the future, customers will decide where and how they shop, and the apparel business must make this as smooth — and profitable — as possible.



Refer full article by Jeremy Sporn and Stephanie Tuttle for Harvard Business Review.

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