Apparel buyers are the gold standard of online shopping and a reliable source of multiple purchases and high conversion rates throughout the universe of e-commerce, according to a study by HookLogic.
In the study conducted by the New York-based commerce search advertising firm, browsers who were converted to purchasers were found to buy two to three items per online visit, but that number jumped to four for the five subcategories within the apparel classification: Clothing, accessories, wallets and handbags, jewelry and shoes.
Analyzing about 11 million transactions that generated more than $1.2 billion in online sales in the U.S. between Dec. 13 and Jan. 26, HookLogic found the highest units per basket, 4.5, in the accessories area, just ahead of the 4.1 value for clothing. Average unit price was highest in jewelry, at $62.41, ahead of the $38.31 average for shoes.
Average basket value overall went to jewelry, at $116.13, followed by wallets and handbags at $91.92 and clothing at $86.21.
But clothing dominates the online landscape for apparel, generating 70 percent of sales, 84.2 percent of units and just under three-quarters of traffic, at 74.4 percent. Shoes are responsible for 19.6 percent of sales, jewelry 4.9 percent and accessories 3 percent.
Elizabeth Jackson, executive vice president of corporate strategy and chief marketing officer of HookLogic, noted that the disparities among the metrics reveal much about the online marketplace. Jewelry, wallets and handbags have a higher share of traffic — 7.3 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively — than they do of sales, where the values are 4.9 percent and 2.5 percent.
Shoes generate 10.9 percent of apparel traffic, but a far greater percentage of sales —19.6 percent. Shoes have the highest conversion rate in the apparel domain — 166 versus 110 for accessories and 97 for clothing versus the average within apparel of 100.
“Consumers looking for shoes are more likely to buy with fewer product page views, and handbags  and jewelry  are lowest, about half of what you see for clothing,” Jackson told WWD. “Consumers looking for shoes are more likely to buy with fewer product page views and consumers do a fair amount of searching before purchasing jewelry and handbags.
“There used to be this belief that people had to try on clothes before they’d buy them, but that hasn’t held out,” she added. “With shipping and return privileges, people are learning they don’t have to go into a store to buy their clothes.”
HookLogic cited eMarketer projections for online apparel sales in the U.S. to nearly double to about $86 billion in the five years leading to 2018 with U.K. online sales, according to Mintel, hitting about 19 billion pounds, or more than $30 billion at current exchange, by 2019. It also noted that the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics reported that nearly two-thirds — 64 percent — of adults bought clothing or accessories online over the course of the past year, the highest penetration rate for any category.
As part of its research, HookLogic commissioned Market Tree to survey 500 consumers for their thoughts on clothing and accessories purchases and found them to be more likely to make multiple sales than the “average” shoppers. About five in nine — 55.3 percent — of clothing and accessories purchasers said they “tend to purchase the product or products I was originally looking for, plus additional products that catch my attention,” more than 9 points higher than in the overall sample.
Market Tree also found those polled spent $206 a month on online apparel, above the $168 average but below the $229 doled out for electronics or the $285 spent on baby care.
When multiple purchases are made online, clothing is the most likely add-on in the other categories of accessories, wallets and handbags, jewelry and shoes. HookLogic found that while jewelry is a popular supplemental purchase when people buy accessories online, jewelry is rarely purchased along with wallets and handbags.
Clothing purchases are most often backed up by purchases of shoes, followed by accessories and then wallets and handbags.
Jackson noted that shoppers need to be given a chance to easily complete their outfits online, functionality that’s available in stores but often not available on mass merchandisers’ sites.
“It’s all about expandable consumption,” she observed.