The international digital agency Forward 3D handles 9.5 million digital interactions in 42 markets and 30 languages every day. It’s clear that chief executive officer Martin McNulty has a handle on how the world is shopping online at this moment for fashion and other merchandise.

In a preview of the annual report that Forward 3D prepares on the state of digital in the fashion industry every year, McNulty discussed the click patterns of online consumers using data gleaned from Google for the U.S. and U.K.

This story first appeared in the July 17, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“It’s interesting,” he said. “You come to these [conferences] and people can’t stop talking about social media. If you are interested in selling clothes, search still represents a majority of what is going to drive that, and still represents the vast majority of marketing traction that you are ever going to get.”

He called click paths “a really interesting proxy to figure out if people are interested, and noted that it takes men an average of six clicks to make a purchase, while women will buy after an average of nine clicks.

He also talked about the advantages of paid searches. “With paid search, you cut the rate [of clicks before buying] from nonpaid search by about 30 percent [on average]. Just being able to control that message in a search engine seems to have a really powerful effect long term on your consumers.”

He pointed out that while paid-for search reduces the number of clicks before purchase overall, that rule doesn’t always apply to all markets. “In the U.K., [paid] search is a really important channel, but it’s not going to speed anything up — it’s pretty much neutral. In the U.S. it will halve your journey time if you are running paid search effectively.”

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