Ecommerce and Technology: Changing The Way Men Shop
How the menswear industry is being innovated thanks to ecommerce.
Despite the challenges that online apparel shopping poses, clothing and accessories make up today’s fastest-growing ecommerce segment. As reported in a recent article by Thomas Rankin, the founder of the mobile menswear app Dash Hudson, this is led by innovative fashion technology solutions that allow brands and e-tailers to tailor both product and content to each shoppers’ specific needs. Not only does this engage consumers and allow them to shop more conveniently than ever before, but it has also revolutionised shopping for a commonly overlooked, yet highly important and loyal customer segment: men.
Mens’ shopping needs have often come second to womens’ in the world of offline retail. The growth of online apparel sales has enabled a multitude of e-tailers and online brands to step up and address this issue by creating sites specifically tailored to men’s needs. And, consequently, “the Internet has changed an experience men hate” as a recent Business Insider article accurately put it, and reduced “the barrier between men and style.” It therefore comes as no surprise that a recent Rakuten Linkshare study found that the vast majority of men (83%) prefer online to brick-and-mortar shopping. Some e-tailers that target both men and women, such as Gilt, have even found that men are ‘outshopping’ women.
A plethora of online shopping possibilities exist besides the usual online stores of existing offline brands and retailers. These cater to more specific needs in innovative ways:
Pure e-tailers who offer latest fashion trends at different price ranges (eg Bonobos, Jack Threads and Mr. Porter).
Curated subscription services such as The Chapar, handpick items and send them to customers on a prescription basis, and then only charge for items that the customers decide not to return (more about this here). Other examples of this include Frank & Oak, Bombfell and Trunk Club.
Social commerce brands who allow men to curate and draw inspiration from others (eg Fab and Svpply), though this type of shopping has been found to be more popular amongst women than men.
Virtual fit tools are also making online sizing choices easier, with custom ecommerce tailoring becoming highly competitive amongst menswear startups (more about this in our FTDaily-featured article here). And the blogosphere has also given birth to men’s fashion blogs such as The Dandy Project, The Simplistic Man, The Hobbyists and This Fellow.
Ultimately, it is a question of offering a service that is tailored appropriately to a certain customer need. Erik Lautier, EVP and Chief Digital Officer at bebe summarises this well in Rankin’s article: “the question you have to ask yourself as a brand is ‘am I creating content people will be passionate enough about to share with others?’ That question is no different from what it was 20 or 50 or 100 years ago – it’s just that now, sharing is easier and faster.”
Curation and greater niche specificity in men’s brands, many of whom are online-only, have made it easier for men to find exactly what they’re looking for, either because it is being served up to them or because the discovery process has been streamlined.
– Erik Lautier, EVP & Chief Digital Officer at bebe in Rankin’s article.
Note: I wrote for Decoded Fashion.