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The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of digital in the fashion and apparel industry. More and more people are shopping online, enabling clothing brands to optimize the digital experience to connect with consumers, maintain performance, and scale up.
The key to successful digital transformation is understanding changes in fashion shoppers’ behaviors and building trust with them. As Anne Pitcher, managing director at Selfridges Group, said in McKinsey’s State of Fashion 2021 report, “Buyers and wholesalers are having a really tough time right now. This is where a level of trust is emerging as critical to the relationship and will make us [fashion industry] stronger in the longer term.”
The question is, at this time of intense uncertainty, how can fashion brands gain trust in shoppers and strengthen that trust?
To help brands find the answers, Salsify conducted a 2021 Consumer Research study, surveying more than 1,800 U.S. shoppers about what it means to trust a brand on the digital shelf. Here’s what we found.
According to Digital Commerce 360, “Consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, up an incredible 44.0% year over year.” We saw 40% of U.S. consumers relied on online shopping during the pandemic, and among these, 43% will continue to shop more online instead of returning to their pre-pandemic behavior.
With the rise of ecommerce and technology, fashion brands invested in the digital shelf to offer a seamless shopping experience. Our data shows that the digital shelf gives shoppers an endless aisle of bargain buying. Almost 50% of shoppers compared prices online across retailers before buying in the last three months, and 42% checked for digital coupons over the same period.
But what fascinates us is that 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for something when it comes from a trusted brand. Furthermore, when asked, “Why have you paid more when choosing between similar products online?,” most shoppers chose brand trust (22%), better reviews (40%), and detailed product information (16%) as their top reasons.
Our findings also correlated with Edelman’s Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic special report, which shows trust is a key factor in consumers’ purchase choices — 55% of consumers reported turning to brands they trust during the lockdown.
How fashion brands maintain customer trust can become a point of differentiation and even a source of competitive advantage. Since shoppers are limited in ways to get a look and feel of a clothing item, they expect brands to offer them as much as product information to make an informed purchase.
The product information should include:
Here is a good example from Ironwear:
Keep all the data reliable, updated in real-time, and consistent across devices and channels. To do that, brands can use the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) to automatically sync data like price, description, and images with SKU counts. With GDSN, brands can reduce data management time and costs, eliminate manual processes, reduce errors, and enable brand transparency.
According to Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index 2020, several major brands are taking steps to use more sustainable materials such as better and organic cotton, recycled polyester and wool, traceable down, and chrome-free leather. Unfortunately, less than 10% of brands publish information like processing facilities and suppliers of raw materials on their product detail page, causing shoppers to doubt their product quality.
Meanwhile, in our research, when asked what makes shoppers trust a brand, the top response is product quality. Clothing shoppers look at what a product is made of and how it’s made to determine whether to trust the brand itself. They expect to see these details on every product page.
Product detail pages (PDP) are among the most critical elements of a fashion brand’s ecommerce presence and yield significant influence over shopper purchase decisions.
According to Kantar’s The State of Ecommerce 2021 report, nearly half of online purchasers indicated that they visited a PDP at the time of purchase, and 41% of those that ranked any touchpoint as number one said PDPs had the biggest influence on their purchase.
Our research found that shoppers rely on multiple elements on a product page to decide whether to buy. About 51% of shoppers are “very likely to buy” when there are personally relevant images, videos, text, and reviews on a product page. More than 30% said they won’t buy a product online if they can’t find the information they need.
Interestingly, enhanced product content (also called rich media) like high-quality images, videos, 360 spins, or comparison charts impact how shoppers trust a brand. About 45% of shoppers said “high-quality images and detailed product descriptions” was one of the top three reasons they trust a product online.
Vera Bradley does a great job of using enhanced content to optimize their PDPs to enhance customer experience. The brand uses a customized 360 spin to help shoppers view the product from different angles and facilitate their product discovery. It’s a great way to boost shopper engagement, improve customer satisfaction, and ultimately drive conversions.
To successfully build trust in shoppers, fashion and apparel brands need to be visible and deliver content that assists the buyer’s process. This means optimizing PDPs with reviews, detailed product information, and enhanced product content, making it easy for shoppers to evaluate product quality and decide whether a product suits their needs.
Download our 2021 fashion market research report to find all the data points and analysis on building shopper trust by mastering product detail pages.
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