The multichannel shopper is changing fast. As Drapers unveils its latest Multichannel Customer Insight Report, industry leaders gather to debate how best to keep up
It was a full house at The Ivy restaurant in London for the unveiling of Drapers’ annual Multichannel Customer Insight Report, sponsored by retail solutions provider K3 Retail, payment technology company Adyen, fulfilment firm XPO Logistics and app commerce company Poq.
It was no surprise: not only is multichannel the fastest-growing area in retail, it is also the fastest moving. Keeping up with what your customer wants – and expects – is the perennial challenge, which is why forward-thinking retailers such as Ted Baker, AllSaints, Jigsaw and Dune gathered to hear the results of Drapers’ nationally representative poll of 2,000 UK consumers who shop across all channels.
Mobile was the hot topic of the day and an investment priority for most around the table. Over the past three years, Drapers’ Multichannel Customer Insight Report has identified steady growth in mobile shopping. In 2014, 18% of those surveyed used mobile to browse fashion. This grew to 23% last year and 27% this year.
Despite the increase, The Cambridge Satchel Company global ecommerce manager Amy Montague is surprised more do not shop on the go: “Mobile has been growing fast. At points, it’s higher than desktop for us,” she says. Conversion on mobile still lags behind other channels, although there has been a sharp rise in respondents who actually buy on the device, from 13% last year to 19%.
“The real shift has been the amount of people buying on mobile. It’s now a converting device, not just a browsing device,” says Jigsaw head of online trading James Williams. However, he believes there is more brands can do to serve the mobile shopper. “I don’t think anyone has really cracked it yet. With the size of screen getting bigger and connectivity getting better, that’s where the big opportunity is,” he says.
For Fergus Patterson, managing director of menswear brand Gant UK, introducing a responsive website has triggered a step change in conversion.
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“Before we introduced it two years ago, people would come on to the website on mobile but wouldn’t buy. However, once we brought in responsive technology, they followed it through to purchase,” he says.
Most consumers – 57% – say they have no fashion apps on their mobiles. However, 24% say they have two to three fashion apps – up 7% on last year.
Only one retailer at the table, Hawes & Curtis, has an app, and ecommerce director Antony Comyns is pleased he made the investment: “People have to really buy into the brand to download your app. But for advocates it really works.”
Michael Langguth, co-founder of app specialist Poq, says his client, House of Fraser, has moved its loyalty scheme to an app: “That’s a great reason to download an app. They want to see their points in real time, and they want to shop in store and get lots of benefits.” He adds that apps come into their own with younger shoppers: “If you’re trying to connect with someone below 25 to 30, that’s where they are.”
When it comes to what shoppers want from fashion websites, clear pricing and lots of choice are their top priorities.
Chris Other, global brand, marketing and online trading director at Tesco’s clothing business, F&F, expresses surprise: “When we put F&F clothing on to the main Tesco Direct site, the feedback was that there was too much choice and people were struggling to find their way through it. It’s got to be curated.”
Patterson elaborates: “When we put more product on site, it always results in more sales. The key is to have a great filtration system, so you can get to the shirt you want quickly.”
The least popular part of fashion websites is editorial content, Drapers’ research finds, which raises some eyebrows at the table. Fashion retailers such as Asos and Net-a-Porter are now part publisher and consensus is that shoppers flock to these sites for content as well as clothes.
Patterson says: “There are great content sites out there but they come to you to shop.” However, Nicola Hamilton, head of brand communications at The Cambridge Satchel Company, believes relationships with customers are built through content: “If there’s no editorial content how do you get to know the brand?” Her company produces content to show what people can fit in their bags, which is “useful content that helps you make a decision”, adds Hamilton.
Patterson notes: “Our experience is that women are confident when buying clothes but men like to find out how to wear items.”
There is a raft of whizzy new in-store technology making its way on to the high street. Shoppers, though, like functional solutions that make shopping faster and easier. Contactless payment is the most popular in-store technology, and 31% of those polled say they like to see contactless in fashion stores.
Dune Group retail omnichannel manager Dave Abbott is taken aback by the results and says the technology has not proven popular at its stores: “We’ve adopted contactless payment in Dune but the uptake is quite low because most items are above £30.”
Abbott says Apple Pay, which has no upper limit on purchases, has an equally low adoption rate with Dune customers. Angus Blest, senior manager, strategy partnerships, at Adyen, says contactless adoption has been much higher in London, where Transport for London has pioneered its use on the Tube. He expects to see Apple Pay and Android Pay follow this trend as more retailers offer their use in store.
Service remains critical for shoppers: 60% of respondents say they want to be served by people.
This conflicts with Zara’s decision to test self-service checkouts in some Spain and US stores. Jaeger ecommerce project manager Fiona Mills explains the retailer is not tempted to adopt the same technology in its stores: “If it’s H&M or Zara, maybe shoppers are happy serving themselves, but a Jaeger customer expects service and interaction.”
However, K3 Retail head of sales David Hughes says that speed of transaction is critical to some shoppers, particularly when picking up click-andcollect items: “A lot of customers have a ‘want it now’ mentality – they just want to get in and out fast, and expect their product to be there waiting for them.”
Fulfilment has become a battleground in online retail, and delivery times are getting faster and faster. A third of those polled say they would not use a fashion retailer that did not offer same-day delivery. Yet only 8% of consumers have used such a service.
None of the retailers present offer same-day delivery, but XPO Logistics business development manager Andrew Turner says more brands want to introduce it. The more common same-day delivery becomes, the more customers will come to expect it from the retailers they shop with, adds Mills.
Turner says retailers would need to charge about £10 to cover the cost of same-day delivery. Around 60% of consumers are willing to pay £1 to £5 and 20% are willing to pay £6 to £10, but 18% expect to get the service for free.
With pressure mounting to ensure multichannel growth boosts the bottom line, retailers may no longer be prepared to give shoppers the service they want for free, but a slick, convenient experience across all channels will keep them coming back.
Dave Abbott, retail omnichannel manager, Dune
Angus Blest, senior manager, strategy partnerships, Adyen
Natalie Bruins, head of marketing, K3 Retail
Antony Comyns, ecommerce director, Hawes & Curtis
Suzanne Egleton, ecommerce director, Ted Baker
Heather Gibson, brand experience director, AllSaints
Mary Elizabeth Hallahan, vice-president of sales, Adyen
Nicola Hamilton, head of brand communications, The Cambridge Satchel Company
Mike Hann, co-founder, Poq
David Hughes, head of sales, K3 Retail
James Knowles, head of commercial projects, Drapers
Michael Langguth, co-founder, Poq
Fiona Mills, ecommerce project manager, Jaeger
Amy Montague, global ecommerce manager, The Cambridge Satchel Company
Chris Other, global brand, marketing and online trading director, F&F
Fergus Patterson, managing director, Gant UK
Rachel Pearson, ecommerce director, Agent Provocateur
Ewan Qualters, global head of ecommerce, FitFlop
Anastasia Roumelioti, head of marketing, Hawes & Curtis
Andy Tudor, technology director, Monsoon Accessorize
Andrew Turner, business development manager, XPO Logistics
James Williams, head of online trading, Jigsaw
John Wilson, business development manager, XPO Logistics