The way we shop is changing. And the way retailers win our business is changing too.
Many small fashion designers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the large retailers, with massive pressure on margins and often unreasonably tough terms. More so than ever before, we are seeing a shift in where small fashion designers are placing their efforts, and this seems to be having a wider affect on the ecommerce experience as a whole.
Retail has become more experiential in recent years - with Apple and Build-a-Bear leading the way in their own unique fashion in the noughties. The desire to not just simply acquire goods, but to enjoy a shopping experience, has been slowly making its way into the online retail experience. For some the motivation is to save time, for others, inspiration and for some, to benefit from the superior styling advice of the professionals.
Whatever the consumers' motivation, different degrees of personalised shopping experiences are being adopted by online retailers, and for many, the rewards are great.
At the simple end of the scale, retailers such as MyDeco are rewriting their product copy in their own unique tone of voice, making recommendations for combinations of products to inspire their browsers and encourage increased basket values. Healthy snack retailer Graze let's you refine your preferences so that you receive a surprise snack selection in the post on a regular basis.
Adding a little extra to the mix, Thomas Pink is hiring stylists to curate product combinations - matching ties with shirts and giving customers the benefit of a 'ready-made' look to add to its 'tailoring' service.
At the super-personalised end of the scale, sites such as Keaton Row, which has just secured $1.6M of second-round seed funding, are gathering customer-filled data about their preferences, size, shape etc, and are using personal stylists to make recommendations for each individual, much like the traditional in-store personal shopping experience. US-based J.Hilburn goes as far as to send a personal stylist to meet and measure you for your first purchase of custom-made clothing, and is so confident in its products and fit, that it offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Consumers are exulting in this indulgent way of shopping and the retail industry is enjoying a barrage of increasingly innovative technologies that will enhance the shopping experience. How some of the more high-end innovations extend to everyday retail brands may be a little more challenging, but high street retailers such as Warehouse and Tesco have already begun to reap the benefits of these technological developments, embracing the convenience of the virtual fitting room to increase sales and reduce returns.