Retailers with strong direct-sales history lead for e-commerce and department stores leverage bricks-and-mortar locations to create omnichannel experience.
According to new research conducted by eMarketer, US retail e-commerce sales of apparel and accessories will reach US$60 billion next year, a 17.2 percent share of total US retail e-commerce.
While consumers are faced with a range of retail choices when shopping for apparel from discount stores to department stores, from fast fashion to luxury, apparel-specific retailers are seeing a higher percentage of revenues coming from e-commerce according to the report entitled Apparel Retailers and Digital Commerce: Trends and Benchmarks.
While a background in catalogue retailing isn’t a guarantee for success, multichannel retailers with strong direct-mail roots, such as a J.Crew or an Urban Outfitters brand, can command as much as 30 percent of sales digitally, while mid-tier retailers like Gap sit around the 10 percent to 15 percent mark.
Shoes and teen-focused retailers generally record smaller proportions of sales via e-commerce.
The apparel retailer with the highest e-commerce rate for the 12-month period ending January 31, 2015, was Lands’ End, with direct sales (via digital and catalogue) drawing a vast majority of its revenues (84.9 percent). During the 12-month period, the retailer’s e-commerce sales grew 1.3 percent to US$1.32 billion, while retail store sales shrunk 9.4 percent.
Other strong performers included Urban Outfitters’ brands – Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People – with e-commerce accounting for around 29 percent of total revenues in the January-to-January period.
Omnichannel Remains Omnipresent for Department Stores
While e-commerce sales are still less than 15 percent of revenues for most department stores in the sector, many that have taken steps toward digital-physical integration as part of an attempt to adjust business strategies for the digital age.
According to eMarketer’s report, Department Stores and Digital Commerce: Trends and Benchmarks, department stores are at the forefront of using traditional spaces as a value add rather than a detriment when competing against online pureplays.
As Jodie Fox of custom footwear company Shoes of Prey relayed at yesterday’s ARA Retail Awards, the face-to-face aspect that comes with having a physical touchpoint with consumers will never be replaced and, as such, department stores are finding great advantages in their physical locations.
Nordstrom has been able to blend online and offline by adding Guideshops for once online-only menswear retailer Bonobos and more recently in-store studios featuring products from Aussie’s Shoes of Prey. From SMS purchasing to beacons sending real-time offers to smartphones, interactive dressing room mirrors and visual search, Nordstrom aims to stay ahead of digital trends and be a leader in the omnichannel space.