Consumer preferences are constantly changing, so retailers must constantly be paying attention. Brands are racing to match the pace of fast fashion retailers like Forever 21, Zara, and H&M, which put out new fashions just about every week. In order to keep up, apparel brands have been investing in apps, websites, online shopping capabilities, and interactive features, but do all these changes really make a difference to consumers?
In order to grow and improve their businesses, retailers need to focus on consumer behavior. In a study completed by Harvard Business Review, apparel and footwear shoppers in the United States were asked about their shopping habits. It turns out that many assumptions about the consumer’s shopping experience are myths.
One myth about shopping is that it has become omnichannel, meaning consumers are thought to simultaneously shop in store and online. In reality, the two shopping experiences are very different. Physical stores don’t really require the use of a smartphone unless the customer wants to look up a specific product to see if it’s in stock online. As a solution to this problem, physical stores can consider encouraging customers to use their smartphones when they enter, maybe to earn rewards or get special offers.
Another myth is that the sales channel doesn’t matter. Customers actually end up buying more when they shop online, for a few reasons. One is that usually when you spend more, you get free shipping. Customers will be encouraged to buy more items if it means they won’t have to pay extra for shipping costs. Secondly, online stores almost always have greater product range availability. To increase sales, retailers with physical stores can encourage customers to make purchases on their website.
A third myth about retail is that online shopping is faster than in-person shopping. It turns out that online shopping actually takes longer. When consumers shop online, they spend a lot of time analyzing and comparing items. This makes up for the lack of the ability to see the item in person. The length of time it takes to shop online can discourage customers from making purchases, but there is one way online retailers can keep them motivated. Online retailers can close sales quickly by sending notifications to customers about items in their cart selling out quickly. They can also send emails reminding them they still have items in their cart.
Finally, our last myth about retail is that consumers always want something new. This isn’t the case at all, because consumers are actually always repurchasing the same items. Consumers don’t constantly go out looking for the latest trends. They often look to replace items they already have, or find basics like plain tees and tank tops. It can be frustrating for customers when they are looking for the most basic item, like a T-shirt, and they just can’t find one. Retailers always carry basic items like T-shirts, but recently they seem to only be selling them with weird cut-out designs or phrases on the front that no one asked for. Sometimes, retailers, simple is best.
Ultimately, the customer should always come first. Customers are the ones who decide where and how they shop, so it’s up to retailers to make the process smooth and enjoyable.
Featured image via Wikimedia