Retail marketing: What do shop owners need to know about German women as a target group?
As we all know, nowadays our shopping sprees increasingly take place online –comfortably from our sofa at home. Considering that women make 80 per cent of all private buying decisions and that 66 per cent of all online shoppers are women, it is worth having a look at female online shopping trends more closely. As a PR and social media agency which specialises in women, we asked ourselves: “What do we know about the shopping habits of women online? What should mail order or ecommerce companies keep in mind regarding their marketing and user experience, and which aspects are overrated? How are things different with the rise of mobile shopping?”
First Priority: User-Friendliness and Security
According to the study “kauFRAUsch 2015” (“Shopping Spree 2015″) from the market researchers at Gesellschaft für Innovative Marktforschung mbH GIM, the security and user friendliness of online stores are particularly important for German women. Large and well-known online retailers such as Amazon or Zalando offer desirable reliability. Where the choice of products is varied, the customers are already accustomed to the payment system as well as the shipping and returns policies, and the layout of the shop is based on learnt usage patterns.
Despite the growing trend for mobile shopping, women prefer laptops with their large screens and ease of use for longer shopping sessions and more expensive purchases or for purchases on unknown websites – mainly for security reasons. Smartphones, on the other hand, are normally used for cheap and spontaneous purchases or for a source of inspiration. Nevertheless, the importance of smartphones in fashion retail is growing. That was the conclusion of the ECC Cologne who cooperated with the online shop HSE24 2016 in their study “Mobile Fashion Shopping – Was Frau Anzieht” (“Mobile Fashion Shopping – Was FWomen Wear”). Therefore, online store operators should ensure that their shop is also user friendly on a mobile device.
50 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men will reuse an online retailer again after a positive user experience. The first resort for women in the search for objects of desire is their favourite online shop. Next follows a Google search for the desired product. Therefore, online shops wanting to grow their customer base should focus on communicating as clearly as possible that they provide security regarding payment transfers as well as deliveries. Make confidence-inspiring certificates, logos, well-known partners and reviews prominent.
The Multi-Functional Basket
The basket serves as a wish list for the experienced female shopper, and is used to narrow down the options, which are later critically re-examined and culled before finally buying. The price fluctuations of products are also often observed through the basket over a long period, both by students and women who are already working. The basket of an online shop is a real “rest spot” and a decision helper.
It’s inevitable that functions of the basket should be adapted to customer requirements for their shopping needs. Fundamentally, this means automatically storing the basket contents for more than just a couple of hours and showing thumbnail images of the products. Otherwise all the trouble of shopping preparation would be pointless! Placing product recommendations near to the basket overview is also very sensible, as they are more likely to be noticed by shoppers.
Information Before Inspiration
When looking through an online store, women follow their own tried and tested patterns. Blogs and magazines serve as sources of inspiration or starting points for shoppers’ online forays into the world of fashion, but the ones that are produced by the shops themselves are mostly understood as self-serving and are largely being ignored.
Women are experienced in scrolling through product previews and narrowing down the options. Only then – after the preselection on individual product sites – does content such as example pictures, possible combinations and further products help the shopper with her decision.
With the growing importance of smartphones in fashion shopping, social media channels are also playing a greater role. Mobile shoppers use social networking extensively for suggestions. Number 1 here is Facebook. The platform serves as mobile fashion help for 77 per cent of women. YouTube takes second place with 66 per cent. Here bloggers post videos, reporting on their latest shopping trips. After that follows WhatsApp, where women ask for advice from friends whilst shopping. Blogs and Instagram are also used increasingly as idea generators. As women generally follow influencers who share their taste, purchases are often provoked by a search for inspiration.
Husband and Wife as a Shopping Team
In partnerships, men and women make use of online shopping for family products, such as furniture, televisions or smaller appliances, such as smartphones, to reinforce their particular shopping habits. Women have an eye for what is needed in the household, and narrow down the choices, for example using the basket. After this, men make detailed enquiries about individual products and their reviews.
Ultimately couples make 80 per cent of all those purchases together. Particularly with costly, large purchases. Children are also included in the decision-making process, provided they are affected by the purchase and are old enough. Synchronised baskets, for example, using a multi-device strategy are perfect for such a fragmented shopping process.
Generally, women prefer to use online shops to buy clothing, whilst men on the other hand buy technology more often online. The survey “Future of shopping latest trends in retail today and 2030″ by Comarch and Kantar TNS shows that men and women both will shop online more in the future.
Men are also somewhat more open to smartphone apps than women, but women are interested in mobile fashion shopping –so it is worth investing there. Apps are popular, as they simplify the use of online shops on mobile devices. Apps do especially well with discounts and personalisation. There is also an interest in augmented reality. A virtual fitting room will help fashion shoppers with their decisions. Both men and women want to try clothes before they buy them. Gamification in the realm of fashion is conceivable for women, as long as they get benefits from it, for example discounts. Otherwise there is advice via Messenger. Some women are still sceptical about real time customer advice. However, as this technology has the potential to be made more customer-friendly, it may also become interesting for fashion shoppers in the future.
By Ulrica Griffiths, Sabine Lockenvitz and Karla Loeffelholz