Over a third (34%) of clothing sold in the UK will be bought online by 2026, new analysis suggests. That’s up from 20% in 2015, according to figures from retail data analyst CACI.
At the same time, 34% of leisure goods will be sold via ecommerce – up from 24% in 2015, and 23% of furniture and larger electricals (13% today).
Paul Langston, consulting partner at CACI, says the leisure sector sells goods such as music, books, computer games and video that have moved online because they were easily downloaded – and do not require as much browsing or comparison with alternatives.
“Cothing and footwear has come to the party later – and cynics, including me, never thought it would take off to the level that it has,” said Langston. “But those who thought everyone would always want to touch, feel and try on clothes forgot how successful clothing catalogues used to be. The combination of the three elements of consumer benefits, technological advances and improved services – none of which were good enough in the early days of internet shopping – are now aligning well for clothing and footwear.”
A smaller but growing proportion of personal goods, from cosmetics and small electricals, will be sold online – 18% from 8% today.
As they prepare for this future, says Langston, retailers must ensure their customers enjoy a seamless service between all their channels. “There is no point having a great website, great stores and great delivery if you still can’t easily return unwanted product,” he said. “Retailers need to use the new found data they have on customers in a smart way to make the most of every contact they have with them. This means presenting and promoting the most appropriate products online, in communications and in stores.”
Click and collect, he says, remains a vital part of the seamless retail experience for those who have store networks. “CACI’s experience is that the additional in-store spend of click and collect customers matches the spend of a customer who hasn’t clicked and collected. So, if you can get customers to come into store, you can be sure of additional sales, as well as the chance to excite them through engaging with your brand.”
Langston, who will present these figures at CACI’s annual Retail Briefing on Thursday May 19, says stores will continue to matter – most sales will still take place in shops, and the store remains the best place to showcase a brand and its products – but he warns they must stay relevant.
“Among the customers who visit stores, there is a great variety in behaviour based on the shopping mission they are on – for instance between friends or family having a big day out, individuals going in for a single item, and someone on a local neighbourhood shopping trip. Retailers need to locate their store networks so they benefit from the widest array of these missions. Retailers can be sure that if they only rely on one mission, they will either cease to be relevant to their customers, or they are likely to be ruined by a staggering rent bill.”
Image caption: Sales of clothing from Next, pictured, are moving steadily online.