Apparel Strongest Fashion Category Online: NPD

Browsing, purchasing frequency tops footwear, accessories.

Apparel enjoys a comfortable margin over footwear and accessories as the fashion category most often sought and purchased online.

An online survey conducted by The NPD Group Inc. revealed that 73 percent of those who shopped for apparel online in 2011 wound up purchasing it, as compared to 62 percent for footwear and 56 percent for fashion accessories.

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Finishing in a tie with consumer electronics at 46 percent of respondents, apparel was the second most heavily shopped online category, trailing books, stationery and office supplies, selected by 48 percent. Footwear elicited a 34 percent affirmative response and fashion accessories 25 percent.

“Apparel has come a long way in getting consumers to engage online,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “Footwear took the early lead, and we see that consumers are pretty comfortable purchasing apparel online these days. There seems to be a real opportunity for fashion accessories to get in the online game.”

More than half of the apparel shoppers — 54 percent — had looked for clothes online in the month before they were surveyed, higher than the 33 percent who’d been shopping for footwear or the 28 percent on the hunt for accessories.

Exactly one quarter of the online shoppers said they follow a retailer or a brand on a social media site, and a higher percentage — 27 percent — said they’d shopped for a product online as a result of something they’d seen on a social media site. Females were “significantly more likely” than males to incorporate social media into their online buying behavior.

“Getting the consumer to go from browsing to purchasing takes new information beyond just product photos and price,” said Cohen. “It takes convincing the consumer to push the purchase button.”

NPD’s survey, summarized in an E-Commerce Hot Topic report, was conducted between Nov. 28 and Dec. 12 and included responses from more than 10,000 respondents evenly split between males and females.