When it comes to assortment and content merchandising on sites, department stores have long held key advantages over both vendor brands and Amazon to help customers find the right products. However, as Amazon increases its line of exclusive apparel, works with influencers on its The Drop collections and builds vendor brand stores for premium brands like Calvin Klein, department stores should further invest in content and tools to retain primacy in their categories, as well as remain differentiated from mass-market retailers.
Most department stores offer the basics, with 94% showing products on models and 52% now offering details on the model’s dimensions so customers can better understand how products might fit according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Department Stores. At the same time, department stores have pulled back on interactive sizing guides — which declined in adoption from 46% to 30%. While sizing and fit information is crucial, department stores are wary of customer blowback when these tools fail to accurately size customers. Instead, department stores should provide sizing information and give customers the confidence to easily replace products that don’t fit with free in-store or online returns — information promoted by 52% of brick-and-mortar retailers on the product page.
Helping users discover the best products for them aids conversion more than proving to users that they have the correct information.2 Department stores thus integrate personalization and personalized offerings to help customers find and buy entire wardrobes. Nordstrom’s Looks tool quickly guides customers to other items they might like, based on what they’ve added to their carts. To grant customers the ability to get a clear idea of how a new item could fit in their wardrobe, Nordstrom’s services also let customers sort through ensembles organized by designer and activity. Since launching Looks and the Nordy Club, Nordstrom’s app has seen an uptick of 100,000 monthly.
Pure plays are also looking to double down on their technical knowhow, with YOOX taking one step further in its assortment, selling a suite of private label lines derived from customer behavior and developed by AI. Farfetch recently announced further investments in its Farfetch Communities program, which allows users to add product tiles to wishlist from proprietary content and looks. Turning user clicks into relevant data can convert customers across the purchase funnel, and brick-and-mortar retailers must quickly catch up to pure play fashion retailers and stay ahead of Amazon.