The State of Online Fashion Part III: What are the demands of Fashion Shoppers in 2021?

This article if part of a three-part series 'The State of Online Fashion in 2021'.

Fashion is the biggest product category in e-commerce. Its shoppers buy far more than in any other product category. And as a result, Fashion’s growth sets the pace of e-commerce and often holds up overall development. But it is, due to its selective nature, also highly vulnerable. And the impact of seasonality leaves Fashion all the more exposed. Add to that a global pandemic and the vulnerability of Fashion’s immensely important position within e-commerce becomes even clearer – a relevance that we already describe in our analysis of online Fashion in June ’20.

AfterPay Insights is back with new analyses on the biggest product category of all. In a brand-new three-part series 'The State of Online Fashion in 2021' we will not only discuss the effects of the pandemic on fashion purchases in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway, but also look at the development of Fashion over the past eighteen months, sketch a profile of the Fashion Shopper as well as their demands and expectations of the online shopping experience.

In this third and final part of AfterPay Insights’ ‘The State of Online Fashion’ series we will dive into Fashion Shoppers’ demands of merchants. Which demands do they have? How have their demands changed compared to eighteen months ago? And what are the differences per country? Read on to find out.

Online Fashion Shoppers have a higher need for convenience, resulting in higher demands on merchants

Online Fashion Shoppers have higher demands when it comes to a wide product range. These shoppers also have higher demands for flexibility in the online purchase journey, particularly for flexible payments and returns. When we take the development of Fashion Shoppers’ demands over the last eighteen months into account, we see that the demand for a wide range of products has increased significantly and is now the third largest Fashion Shopper demand in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway.

The relationship between Fashion Shoppers’ demands and their behavior is clear: as Fashion Shoppers shop online more, flexible payment are essential to sustain their shopping habits. This means they use less legacy payment methods and more Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions. The demand for flexible returns stems from their return behavior: Fashion Shoppers return almost twice as much as Non-Fashion Shoppers.

Underlying these behaviors (more online shopping and higher returns) and the subsequent demand for flexibility is Fashion Shopper's need for convenience. When looking at the drivers to shop online, Fashion Shoppers score significantly higher on aspects like being able to shop anywhere 24/7 and product availability.

The Netherlands: Fashion Shoppers demand a wide range of products, fast delivery and flexible payments and returns

In the Netherlands, Fashion Shoppers’ highest demands of merchants are regarding webshop security and having used a webshop before. A wide range of products has increased the most in importance and is now the third largest demand among Dutch Fashion Shoppers – it has increased from 20% in March 2020 to 29% in July 2021. Besides the demand for a wide range of products, Fashion Shoppers differentiate themselves from Non-Fashion Shoppers by having significantly higher demands for fast delivery time and flexible payments and returns. The demand that has decreased in importance the most in the past eighteen months is the aspect of having used a webshop before.

In 2021, Dutch Fashion Shoppers are more open to shopping with new brands than in 2020 – an excellent opportunity for merchants.

The reduced importance of ‘having used a webshop before’ is likely the result of the pandemic-induced change in Dutch Fashion Shoppers’ purchase patterns. In 2020, online became the most important channel for making online purchases - for both ‘nice to have’ and essential goods. Particularly for essential goods, and especially in the absence of better and offline options, a factor such as product availability (as described above) increases in importance as a result.

Germany: Fashion Shoppers demand a wide range of products, reliable delivery, flexibility in payments and returns and low prices

In Germany, Fashion Shoppers have amplified demands of merchants when it comes to having a wide range of products, reliable delivery and flexible payments and returns. Having purchased at a webshop before is also one of Fashion Shoppers’ highest demands in Germany. Of all Fashion Shoppers’ demands in Germany, the demand for a wide range of products has increased the most in the past eighteen months: it is now the third biggest demand among German Fashion Shoppers. In contrast to Fashion Shoppers in Netherlands, German Fashion Shoppers have higher demands when it comes to finding the lowest prices and so are more price conscious.

Norway: Fashion Shoppers demand low prices, a wide range of products and flexibility in payments and returns

In Norway, the most important demand among online Fashion Shoppers is that a merchant offers the lowest price. The need for a wide range of products has also increased significantly in Norway since March 2020, from 23% of consumers stating this as important to 32% in July 2021. Besides the demand for a wide range of products, Norwegian Fashion Shoppers differentiate themselves from Non-Fashion Shoppers by having significantly higher demands for flexible payments and returns.

How satisfied are Fashion Shoppers in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway?

Our survey results indicate that 80% of Fashion Shoppers are satisfied with the webshops they have purchased from during the past two weeks – which can be compared to around 70% among non-Fashion Shoppers.

A key factor in Fashion Shoppers’ higher satisfaction level is that they are savvy and experienced online shoppers with a realistic expectation of the online shopping experience.

As customer satisfaction is the gap between expectations and the level of service delivery, this leads Fashion Shoppers to be more satisfied. So, it is not that they actually receive a better experience and/or service delivery – Fashion Shoppers just perceive it to be better than their Non-Fashion Shopper counterparts.

What is next?

We will publish an outlook of e-commerce in September soon. Stay tuned.