Confession: I am a Fitting Roomer. I read this fashion industry term recently in a swirl of shame as the article identified my exact online shopping behavior: buying multiple sizes in an item with the intent to try them on at home, keep the one that fits, and return the others. My entire spring/summer wardrobe was purchased online, with at least 50% returned. I could hear the fashion execs whispering tsk tsk in my ear, admonishing me for what some have called the ticking time bomb of costly retail returns. Apparently we Fitting Roomers are terrible for the bottom line. We’re taking advantage of the system. Amazon has even banned the most extreme habitual returners, identifying us as bad for business. Except we’re not. E-commerce fashion is a $545 billion industry and growing. This growth is fueled by convenience including the ability to return: 88% of online shoppers appreciate shopping day or night and easily finding products. And free shipping and returns are the top factors making people more likely to shop online. Without a good shipping and return policy, retailers lose a huge chunk of sales. Because here’s the thing. Shopping for clothes online isn’t like shopping for other goods. It’s not just the quality that matters, or that items are true to their online representation. You may receive a beautiful blouse in the mail that every bit lives up to its description and photo, but when you put it on you happen to look more frumpy than sophisticated. Those amazingly edgy, high quality jeans might be the epitome of your personal style, but they also just might squeeze you in all the wrong places. The top two reasons for online returns are “size too small,” and “size too large.” In other words, a key part of what drives apparel purchase is how the clothes fit on your body. It’s why every brick-and-mortar retail location has dressing rooms. With clothes, you need to try before you buy. So when considering the state of online returns, retailers are making one fatal mistake. They’re thinking of online returns as a follow-up to the buying process, when in fact they’re part of the shopping process. We Fitting Roomers don’t think of paying for multiple sizes online as akin to buying and returning. We think of it as a sort of refundable deposit to try on clothes we haven’t committed to yet. Fitting Roomers aren’t taking advantage of the system. They’re showing brands what an online shopping process looks like when you need to try before you buy. Andrew Bowden, Sr. Manager of Product Marketing at TradeGecko, an inventory management software company, understands that for brands to avoid getting gouged by growing customer return habits, they need to think of it as part of the larger experience. “The most important question to ask when assessing your reverse logistics process,” he recently told Shopify, “is whether or not you’re designing and optimizing the experience for the customer or your business — ideally it’s a mix of both. When in doubt, default to the customer.” Instead of punishing or dissuading the shopping behavior of fitting rooming, why not embrace it? What would the online retail customer experience look like if we shift the way we think of fitting rooming from a “return” to a “try-on?” Some are already doing this. Digitally native direct-to-consumer brands like ThirdLove and MM La Fleur have redefined the experience to embrace how the need to try on shapes a shopping journey. ThirdLove is so focused on fit, they incorporate an in-depth fit quiz before purchase and let customers return bras even after they’ve already been worn and put through the laundry. While I was trying on my new bra at home, I texted with a ThirdLove “Fit Stylist” for a new size recommendation. When I needed a new style, she provided the most seamless repackaging/shipping logistics I’ve encountered. Knowing this, I’m guessing they have an air-tight reverse logistics process built for efficiency and minimal cost, too. Over the last six months I’ve returned two bras. But I’ve kept five - and become a serial repeat customer. That’s a big deal when repeat purchases are the aim of a whopping 83% of shopping journeys. Digitally native DTC brands like MM La Fleur and ThirdLove build their retail customer experience to accommodate the need to find the perfect fit. It’s the more traditional retail brands that haven’t quite figured this out yet. Their struggle with the cost of returns leaves you guessing on how an item looks on a real body, receiving multiple packages that can’t be re-used, being charged extra fees, and printing labels. These brands look at Fitting Roomers as a problem to be combatted, but brands and customers both win if we shift how we perceive the role of returns in the online shopping journey. Because at the end of the day, we Fitting Roomers are not serial returners. We’re just online shoppers. Greer Pearce, VP of Strategy AMP is on a quest to humanize the total customer experience. This article is a part of AMP’s Customer Experience deep-dive series, where we take a first person approach to understanding the modern shopping experience.
As consumers continue to buy online, retailers are under more and more pressure to refine their sites to convert to sales. However, the average conversion rate for most e-comm sites is still hovering around the 3-4% mark globally. While there are a myriad of reasons of why someone would leave your site before buying, one of the main causes is usually attributed to not delivering the product information they were seeking. This can be solved through optimizing your product pages with more in-depth information, such as images, videos, and consumer reviews. Given that updating an e-comm site to add this content usually requires integration between the UX, creative, development and marketing departments, it can take a while to get changes made. Enter Flixmedia, a UK-based company who is the leader in product page optimization*. Flixmedia has made it easy for retailers to quickly add in enhanced product information to their site pages. Using existing assets, they are able to seamlessly incorporate product imagery and videos into the product page. They also use innovative technology in their dynamic hotspots, giving consumers an opportunity to interact with the product. Why are we so obsessed with Flixmedia? Because they produce results. Adding interactive hotspots has resulted in increasing conversion rates by 28%. Adding imagery and videos to product pages has grown Add to Cart rates by an average of 23%. Don’t spend all that time and money driving traffic to a site that doesn’t convert. Optimize your product pages to give consumers the information they are looking for and leave that 3-4% in the dust. *Full disclosure: Flixmedia is owned by our same parent company, Advantage Solutions
Amazon already told the world that the 2016 holidays were its “best-ever season,” and new data from retail analytics company Slice Intelligence is adding some perspective to the claim. Based on a panel of more than 1.3 million US online shoppers, Amazon claimed 38 percent of all online revenue during the just-completed holidays. That’s a slight gain over its 37.9 percent share during the 2015 holidays. Owning e-commerce
In Deloitte’s annual holiday research, they forecast that this could be the first year where online gift spending equals that of physical stores. The survey results do draw skepticism, as e-commerce still represents only a small fraction of total retail spending. The survey also found that mobile phones would continue to serve as a bridge between physical and virtual shopping, with 56% browsing items via phone, and 43% using them for purchases. ‘Tis the season for online shopping.
While much of Amazon’s sales volume is in diapers, blenders, and other unglamorous products, the e-commerce behemoth is also a fashion giant. Next year it’s expected to become the biggest apparel seller in the US. And yet high-end luxury labels aren’t biting. Jean-Jacques Guiony, CFO of LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton and other luxury labels, told analysts this week that there is “no way” it would do business with Amazon. What is so unappealing about Amazon’s business model? Exclusivity vs inclusivity.
In May, Target Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldberger was seated on a stage talking about his promotion. But just four months later, Target has eliminated Goldberger’s job. What the shake-up really comes down to is simple: A panicked decision driven consciously or unconsciously by the realization that nothing Target has done has slowed Amazon from eating up more and more market share in North America. Sounds familiar?
On July 25th, several members of AMP’s Integrated Media team attended the MITX eCommerce Summit at Google’s Cambridge offices. The event featured speakers from different companies and firms sharing their research and first-hand experience in ecommerce. There were many important points of view and even a great demonstration of Wayfair’s augmented reality app WayfairView which allows users to visualize furniture and décor in their homes before buying online, but the one overarching theme of the summit was the intersection of online and offline moments on the customer’s journey to a sale. From the summit, they three defining takeaways where: 1.Digital Sales Should Not Be Treated As Separate One practice that some retailers still follow is that sales via online channels are different and separate from in-store sales. The reality of today’s customer is that these two types of sales are interconnected and should be managed that way. If retailers track and measure their sales channel in silos, they are missing the larger consumer trends. A survey result revealed that 76% of consumers use digital devices to shop prior to their store trip. Before they step into a store, they have made multiple digitally influenced decisions that led them there. The new approach for retailers should be to view these channels holistically. Inspiration Research Selection Purchase Return/Service Each of these moments should have offline and online initiatives to influence the consumer to sales. It is up to the marketing teams to define how to best reach the consumer when they enter each of these moments with a holistic approach. These moments can also be seen as points of friction, which could lead to the consumer ending their journey before the sales, or points of leverage, which could lead to opportunities to upsell or gain brand loyalty. 2. Deciding on the Path to Differentiation For retailers to find their path to business growth, they need to find their path to differentiation. Understanding how and when they reach consumers will enable the organization to map their interactions with their target audience. The first step on this path is to reduce the friction that consumer may encounter when they interact with the retailer. From there, the retailer can work on uniform cross-channel experiences for all consumer interactions no matter where they happen. The final step on the path to differentiation from the rest of the retailer pack is the drive omni-channel results, which is ultimate goal to secure big sales growth. Our team learned a great deal from the Summit. Regardless of whether you attended or not, if you would like to discuss the topic outlined below, please reach out to us- we'd love to chat. Click here to learn more about the Integrated Media team.
Quietly over the weekend, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, announced it will acquire online retailer Jet.com for $3.3 billion in cash and stock in the largest-ever acquisition of an e-commerce company. The purchase marks a giant bet on a largely unproven startup that only launched its shopping site widely last July, and is also an acknowledgement by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon that his company needs outside help if it’s ever going to close the giant gap with Amazon. Not bad for two years' work.
Facebook has added a raft of new features to its Messenger chatbots, including linking a customer's account so a bot can make personalized suggestions. The new account-linking feature would allow customers to link, for example, their account with a book retailer to the brand chatbot. The chatbot can then suggest new books based on what the customer has purchased before. Facebook knows me so well.
Since the dot com boom, the promise of the internet in fundamentally changing distribution, marketing, advertising and consumption has never fully lived up to the hype. Digital seems unable to truly slay the beast that is TV advertising. But the rise of new distribution and marketing channels, on-demand infrastructure and consumer tracking stands to dramatically reshape this funnel, collapsing it in on itself, opening up new battlegrounds. Those that can adapt, will thrive.