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It's when you can start rolling out the t-word (trillion) that you know you're dealing with a truly vast potential market. And by racking up some $1.7 trillion (USD) in trade last year, the global apparel market can call upon all manner of super-sized superlatives.

But it's a market of dizzying complexity too, with digital trends driving an ever more frenetic evolution.

To get a proper handle on such an immense sector, you need to cast your net both wide and deep – and then process the data into usable insights. The 2017 Fashion Shopping Focus Report successfully manages that tricky proposition, thanks to its ability to call upon data from 2 billion shopping visits, 40 million shopping transactions and 450 apparel retailers.

Not only does this latest Fashion Shopping report pick up on emerging global trends – like the arrival of social and the growing impact of subscription models – it's full of practical advice on how to best exploit them. Even better, it has tailored benchmarks of real relevance to the apparel scene.

But first to the global findings...

 

1. Fashion bloggers' influence on your website is growing

The Product Detail Page (PDP) is where ever more shoppers are first arriving at your digital store, driven there by social media influencers. We found that 30% of site visits now begin at the PDP, 5% more than H2 of 2016. This is a factor unique to the apparel sector: only 4% of traffic comes from social in other sectors, compared to 7% in global apparel.

That makes the PDP ripe for a make-over. Think colour swatches, user-generated content (UGC) and an angle towards reviews. These all help to drive up those add-to-cart rates. In particular, sites with UGC have page visit durations that are three times longer, while conversion rates shoot up by nearly 10%.  Our report has plenty more ideas for how to fine-tune your PDP page for conversion.

 

2. Subscription models could fast-track fast fashion

Fast fashion continues to re-model the apparel sector, challenging established players and grabbing market share. We found two-thirds of digital shoppers say they're more likely to visit sites with new products. That's been met by an up-tempo offering from retailers, with burgeoning product catalogues pushing up the tally of unique products purchased.

In fact, mobile has seen a near 50% increase in unique products over the last two years. Subscriber models offer a fresh platform for assuaging that consumer desire for continuous style innovation. Our report details the real benefits – in terms of deeper, more loyal relationships, lower costs and more responsive personalisation – that a subscriber approach can deliver. 

For instance, with a truly global presence in the retail industry, Orchestra’s goal of building community and providing its customers with the best in childcare, maternity, and children’s fashion has been at the heart of the business throughout its 22-year history. Orchestra operates 700 stores across 40 countries on 5 continents, and digital storefronts in France, Belgium, Spain, and Greece. The business is bolstered by its Club Orchestra membership program, which counts more than three million members and requires customers to pay a membership fee to get a 50% discount.

  

3. Pure mobile fashion retailers are becoming a reality

Not only is mobile taking an increasing slice of the digital apparel sector (accounting for 36% of orders and 56% of all traffic to apparel sites), it’s become the guiding star for some of the sector's most innovative players. In our report, we showcase a stellar success story of the dawning mobile era: Ivyrevel. 

This online-only retail brand has leveraged social media and mobile channels to keep a laser-like focus on its audience. Mobile makes up 50% of its sales and more than 70% of its visits, but the aim is higher. 

"It’s our ambition to be a pure mobile player. Young customers don’t even know what a laptop is anymore,” Ivyrevel's Commerce Manager tells us.

 

And here in the UK? 

Pulling our focus back to the UK, you'll find our report has plenty of benchmarks to measure yourself against. It breaks down a wealth of metrics by apparel sector, as well as five key regions that include the UK. The highlights?

Shoppers here make the greatest use of site search of any of the five countries analysed. Thirteen percent of traffic and 24% of revenue comes from the site search page.

The UK also leads the pack when it comes to social media on-the-go, with 7% of traffic coming via social channels on mobile. That's a strongly growing delivery channel, too. Taken together, traffic and orders from social have seen 43% YoY growth.

There's more detail to intrigue and insight to dazzle in the full report. Download the 2017 Fashion Shopping Focus Report and you'll get a front-row view on this trillion-dollar show.