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There is a serious increase in demand in the fashion industry for retailers to become multi-channel and make browsing and buying on a mobile easier for consumers.
We have seen a huge increase of well known retails branch out to mobile sites, from ASOS back in 2010 to Newlook in April this year.
In the first quarter of 2011 alone, 11% of retail-related searched were made from mobile devices (Retail Week). This suggests that potential consumers are already using their phones to look for sites and products, regardless of whether a website has a specific mobile version.
Fashion is social. In the very words of Coco Chanel:
Fashion is what is happening. By having mobile fashion websites, retailers can be at the touch of a button when consumers are out, socialising and living their lives. For example, if a consumer is out with their friends, discussing what they might wear to an event, they can easily go on their phone to browse and purchase. If they see a friend wearing something and ask where it is from, they can easily go on their mobile and purchase it. Mobile fashion websites mean that purchasing fashion online can be made even more social than we already see with social media.
For many people, shopping has become an activity. It is something to do, almost becoming a hobby. It is nothing new for consumers to wonder around fashion retail shops on their lunch break, or to pass time, treating it as an activity, rather than simply a process to purchase clothing. Having fashion mobile sites allows this use of shopping to be transferred to consumers on the go. For example, if a consumer is on their train commute home from work, they may wish to browse a mobile fashion website to pass the time. This could easily lead to a purchase.
Mobile fashion websites can also be the perfect partner to bricks-and-mortar stores. If a consumer sees an item in store, but it is unavailable in their size, they can easily go online there and then and purchase it. This is a great convenience for consumers, but it also allows the retailers in brick-and-mortar stores to encourage the purchase while the consumer has the product fresh in their minds, even though they are unable to offer it in store.
It is important to remember that consumers don’t always go straight to a mobile fashion retailer website. They may be reading a fashion magazine app on their phone, or a fashion blog that links the retailer website. Just think how much more likely that visit is to lead to a conversion if the site that it links to is a mobile version of the site.
Perhaps the most obvious reason that fashion mobile websites have seen such an increase, is because it gives the consumer an online experience tailored to their device. This makes everything easier and more convenient for the consumer, from browsing to purchasing. It is also important to remember that many technologies which are common place on fashion retail websites, such as flash, might not be recognised by browsers on mobile devices. This means that if retailers don’t have a mobile version of the site, consumers may not be able to use the site on their mobile at all.
The fact that so many retail related searches take place from mobile devices tells us that consumers are already looking at fashion retailer sites on their mobiles, so by making a mobile version of the site retailers can create competitive advantage and increase the likelihood of conversions on a mobile device.