[tweetmeme]Clothes and apparel are one of the leading items sold online. In fact, eMarketer.com puts the U.S. apparel, accessories and footwear category sales online at $26.6 billion in 2008.
The experience of shopping from the comfort and privacy of home has spurred the growth of online shopping for clothing and apparel. Buyers can look at the items offered for sale at the time that works best for them, and more easily see how the clothes, shoes, accessories and other items fit with the rest of their wardrobe.
However, there are a number of challenges inherent in selling apparel online:
- Customers are not able to closely inspect and see the product. Perception of the product depends on the quality and even size of the computer monitors of the online shoppers.
- Clothes and shoes cannot be tried on when shopping online. This limits the ability of the buyer to evaluate the product, how it will look on them and how well it fits.
- Nuances of the product may not be fully captured on the computer screen, such as the details in the design, or even the colors. The “flashy gold” color of a shoes onscreen may actually be “muted pale gold” in close inspection.
- It is harder to put an outfit together. In the store, you can take several pieces with you in the dressing room to see how well each item works together as an outfit.
- There’s also the absence of personal interaction with the sales team. Unlike in a physical store, a sales clerk or even the store owner can immediately assist customers in choosing the right products, and answer any questions or concerns that they may have.
- Hassles of returns when the product is not as expected or does not fit.
To overcome the challenges above, big retailers try to mimic the physical store experience when shopping online. They use a variety of techniques to give buyers a sense of how the product will look, how it should be worn, and what other items can be worn with the product.
Here’s a look at how some of the big clothing and apparel retailers try to provide the in-store shopping experience online:
Check out our previous article on how big boys sell apparel online: