As lockdown measures are gradually lifted, shoppers continue to rely on online shopping for fashion and apparel. Consumers are likely to continue to shop online as we gradually move into a new normality. This is an opportunity for online retailers to invest in product feed management to make the most of their digital potential.
When non-essential retail closed, people were left without the option between high street and online, and shoppers were led towards a digital shopping experience, a safer, quicker and convenient option to what many were familiar with before the pandemic.
Experts believe that 17.2 million UK shoppers will switch to online shopping permanently when the pandemic is over and lockdown measures are lifted. This will be a key moment for fashion brands. These will have to ensure they can deliver an impeccable e-commerce experience and respond dynamically to the shifting consumer demand. Replicating some in-store shopping key benefits is essential if brands want to continue engaging with shoppers and assisting them throughout their purchase decisions. Customer reviews, photos of real-life customers on web pages, augmented reality tools (AR) — a simulated view of what a specific piece of clothing looks like on different body shapes and sizes, and social proof widgets to show how often an item has been browsed and purchased are examples of effective technologies currently used by fashion brands like Asos and I Saw It First to help reluctant shoppers, convert new and first times online shoppers and finally keep regular and loyal customers engaged and interested.
Why is it then important for online retailers to invest in product feed management tools? Because a product feed management software can facilitate the process of selling online, making it easier to edit and manage product feeds, synchronize online orders, manage stock and sell anywhere online.
In this blog post, we look at how the shopping experience has shifted, transitioning from the traditional ‘bricks’ to online ‘clicks’ over the past year.
Consumers have not just changed the way they shop, adapting to a more digital experience, they now have a very clear idea of what they want from their shopping experience. The pandemic has caused economic, social and technological shifts, changing how consumers evaluate their shopping decisions and shaping their expectations and priorities.
When it comes to deliveries and returns, consumers expect more. Now shoppers have high expectations for brands to offer doorstep services for clothing, electronics, leisure items, food and grocery.
The Rethinking Retail Report 2021 shows that Search interest in delivery options for items such as ‘dumbbells’, ‘balloons’, and even ‘compost’ has grown exponentially. To meet the new and changing consumer expectations, brands are offering next-day deliveries, click-and-collect, pay-online-pick-up-in-store options and collections with allocated time slots.
If brands want to continue seeing growth in sales, first-class and ‘instantaneous’ deliveries will have to be always guaranteed.
The shift from high street shopping to online clicks has generated a nostalgic sentiment within consumers, who are missing some key and unique features of the in-store shopping experience. Trying on clothes to pick the best fit, seeking in-store assistance, smouching through the latest trends, materials and stock to mention a few. There’s also the unique sense of satisfaction that follows a purchase in-store, when a shopper walks out of a store with their new garments ready to wear straight away without having to wait days for these to be delivered. In some way, consumers expect the same speedy and quick delivery of their clothes purchased online.
Consumers have similar expectations when it comes to returns. Consumers are having to adapt to different and longer return processes. Due to the high demand for online purchases, delivery and shipping companies are overloaded with parcels to deliver with fast and express delivery options. Then, on the other hand, consumers are also returning original orders back to brands and companies. Then the cycle continues, more clothing being purchased results in additional clothing needing to be returned.
When it comes to product feed management, the best practice is to include all the important information about deliveries and returns in the product descriptions. By doing so, consumers are made aware of what type of service they can expect when ordering a specific product from you. Additionally, this can be your chance as a retailer to showcase your best services by adding the information to your product feed.
Online displays have replaced traditional window displays. This means consumers can no longer window shop or browse for clothing, shoes and accessories in store. Online stores and shopping ads are serving as displays, the go-to inspiration and product information for many consumers.
According to Google, Search terms ‘how to’, ‘ideas for’ and ‘DIY’ increased significantly early 2020, as a result of the increasing number of consumers searching for inspiration online.
Experts are convinced that this new online window shopping behaviour is set to continue over the next five years and consumers will continue to use this method not only to browse stores and products but also to seek inspiration. The Rethinking Retail Report 2021 shows that the online window shopping behaviour is also allowing consumers to be more open to changing brand preferences as they are constantly exposed to alternative options.
This shopping behaviour will require brands to work on their online presence to implement strategies that will guarantee the visibility of their products in user searches.
Merchants who advertise through google shopping need impeccable campaigns to perform well at a time like this when the online competition is high. In this respect, campaign structure is absolutely key as it has a significant impact on your product visibility. A good campaign structure determines whether your products are going to be visible in Google Shopping and Search results. Product feed management strategies become essential to optimising your campaign structure, which will allow your Shopping campaigns to flourish.
Consumers care about what they buy and who they buy from, now more than ever. For apparel and footwear, consumers have become more socially conscious in the way they shop, with great awareness on sustainable brands and the impact of fast fashion on the environment.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) and the IBM Institute studied sustainable shopping habits among younger generations and found that 70% of millennials and 69% of Gen Z respondents said they either rented or wanted to rent products instead of purchasing. Additionally, 77% of millennials and 78% of Gen Z respondents said they had purchased or wanted to purchase pre-owned, repaired or renewed products. Although these figures aren’t specific to fashion only, it confirms the growing interest in sustainability when it comes to shopping.
In addition to shopping in a more sustainable way, consumers consciously decide who to support. The Rethinking Retail Report 2021 shows that consumers now like to shop more from local and small businesses. Furthermore, consumers are increasingly interested in diversity and brands that prioritise this. According to the report, Search interest has increased for terms such as ‘black-owned business’ and ‘sustainability’ since the start of the pandemic.
How can retailers and online businesses respond to the shifting consumer expectation?
Want to learn more about the shifting consumer shopping behaviour? Read more knowledge posts here. Contact us today for a free trial of the Shoptimised Product Feed Optimisation software. Our team of Google Shopping experts will assist you and talk through a free demo.