The Love Hate Relationship of Shopping for Fashion Items
Do you ever find yourself in a position where you want something, you love something and at the same time you can’t stand some parts of that thing?
Yes, you read the title right, I wasn’t referring to a partner :) I was referring to the one activity every man, woman and child at some point needs. Like taking a shower in the morning, shopping for clothes to put on your back & shoes on your feet has evolved with mankind beyond the necessities of staying warm and protected, it has evolved to our identity. The choice of what we wear occupies our mind (at least) a few minutes a day and for some, outsourcing this task has been seen as what ‘’smart or wealthy’’ people do — i.e. either by hiring a personal shopper or by simply wearing similar clothes everyday.
Its amazing how one seemingly negligible need can shape a lasting impression about one’s individuality.
I just interviewed a number of women from different backgrounds and works of life with the aim to understand what problems they face when shopping for fashion items online. Especially coming from the nostalgic memory of in-store shopping. My target audience were women between the ages of 25–45, who by now most likely know how they want to appear.
To my surprise, most customers kept referring to ‘’texture’’ and ‘’size’’ as their number 1 problem i.e. not being able to touch and feel a fabric and also play ‘’dress-up’’ . Other buzz words i heard alot were ‘’the hassle of returning an item’’, ‘’the environmental impact of delivery’’ & ‘’the frustrations when looking for a specific item’’.
I know that companies like fit analytics have set-out to solve the sizing challenges within the fashion apparel e-commerce industry and have now become an almost household name (for those working in the industry). With that said, who is solving the texture-touch & feel problem? Who is addressing customers frustrations of not being able to find specific items online? or the environmental impact during delivery and returns?
From my research, a number of companies have tried to re-create the tangible in-store experience like introducing online shop assistants or by using visuals and sounds to recreate an in-store atmosphere but maybe like with many online problems, reinventing the wheel is the only digital solution that will seamlessly work.
This is uncharted territory; how can we make shopping simpler but yet full-bodied because although half of the people I interviewed genuinely enjoy the process and benefits of shopping online, they all admit there is a long list of improvements which can be made. Hence the question is which problem to start with?
One thing is for sure, there is a need to improve the overall experience of customers while shopping for fashion items online. Although there are a few e-commerce platforms such as Asos and Zalando who simplify the end to end customer experience. There are certain nuances that have fallen between the cracks and in my opinion is the perfect time to fix the last 20% (as online shopping continues to grow).