People are changing and I don’t just mean that as a species we are getting taller and living longer - I mean our behaviours and expectations are evolving. We now live in an age where we have permanent access to information at our fingertips, where we can order food to come to us even if we’re sitting in a park…
We have become more demanding as the internet and social media shrinks the world and makes everything more accessible and instantaneous, now whether that’s a good or bad thing is open for debate!
Convenience shopping used mean buying the essential groceries such as milk and bread but more and more it’s one that fashion retailers need to embrace, in the fight to secure consumer spend and loyalty.
Online shopping gave consumers the ability to shop at all times of the day and night, there is always someone awake and shopping online.
Mobile shopping allows people to shop wherever they are, making use of any spare time: waiting for a bus, a meeting, a friend, whatever. It was enabling this change and convenience that was one of the big drivers for us starting the Mallzee app originally.
Physical stores exist to allow consumers to inspect and try on items before they buy, allowing them to make purchases based on fit and feel. We can make our purchases anytime anywhere, but as consumer demand for ease and accessibility grows, the convenience challenge is highlighted by the reduced footfall in shops and the high volume of online purchase returns. An issue which compounds the overstock issues facing many retailers.
How can fashion retailers meet this continued thirst for convenience? Firstly delivery options for online/mobile purchases are constantly improving with click and collect, one hour time slots, delivery tracking etc. Secondly retailers are combining the best parts of all channels to offer a choice of shopping methods.
One company which is combining the online purchase experience with the physical store benefits of being able to see, feel and fit the clothes is American menswear brand Bonobos. Bonobos lets you try on clothes in store but doesn’t have any in-store inventory; anything you buy in store is shipped to you from their warehouse after purchase thus reducing the bricks and mortar costs as much smaller high street retail premises are required.
Also setting the new standard is the American department store Nordstrom. They have a store in Los Angeles that carries no stock. If you shop online and they have the product in another store, you can go to the “Nordstrom Neighborhood” store and pick up your product within two hours of ordering. Or you can bring products you bought online into the Neighborhood store for alterations. Or you can meet with a personal shopper, get advice, and have the products in your home on the same day.
Nordstrom are also testing the 24/7 convenience store, in their new menswear store in New York customers can collect products 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you arrived on a visit to New York and forgot something, a person will come out the door of the store in the middle of the night to give you what you ordered online.
My personal favourite recent development however has to be the Adidas customisation service. Starting with a choice from one of their most famous silhouettes, you can then go on to design it exactly the way you like, essentially shifting the power over to their customers and allowing them full control of the product they'll receive - that's one way to reduce the return rate, huh?
In a world where the idea of accessibility is constantly evolving, we’re excited to see what will be the next breakthrough which makes retail and shopping even more convenient and what steps retailers will take bring customers back to their stores - both online and offline.