The Devil is in the Detail for Online Apparel Retailers

Michelle Beeson

Reviewing online functionality for a selection of key European online only retailers, I am struck by a shift. With the basics of purchasing and navigation nailed down, the devil is now in the detail of implementing online functionality for apparel retailers – particularly those that are online only. Now we are seeing both subtle and overt efforts to improve merchandising and remote clienteling online proactive live chat, 2D size guides, personal shopping style guides and ‘compete the outfit’ suggestions on product pages.

To get to the next level of best practice and differentiation online apparel retailers need to keep refining their website functionality in order to succeed in a competitive and increasingly crowded category. Empowered customers are using multiple devices to shop online helping to drive forecasted online retail sales growth of 12% in Europe (2013 to 2018). To secure their chunk of this growth, online apparel retailers need to constantly evaluate, test and implement new and improved functionality to support merchandising and drive consumers through the path to purchase.

To assess whether European online-only apparel retailers have the features and functionality to compete, Forrester conducted a Website Functionality Benchmark to evaluate selected sites:,,,,, and

Key takeaways from the report include:

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Black Friday Plagues the 2014 UK Holiday Sales Season

Michelle Beeson

Black Friday has been a constant feature in the postmortem of the 2014 UK holiday sales season. It has gradually extended its influence across the Atlantic over the years; despite having no cultural significance outside of the US (Black Friday is a sales day that traditionally follows the US Thanksgiving holiday). Retailers in France, Germany and Spain tested the waters with Black Friday promotions in 2014. But it was in the UK where Black Friday sales surged to new heights.

UK retailers who embraced Black Friday reported massive sales uplift on the day. Department store House of Fraser recorded a 125% increase in year on year sales while saw orders jump 134% compared to Black Friday 2013.Yet, for most, this uplift did not translate to an overall sales increase or the holiday season.

Our new report "Black Friday: The Sales That Stole Christmas", written with my colleague Martin Gill, evaluates the impact of Black Friday sales in the UK holiday season 2014, foretelling what is on the horizon for the rest of Europe as:

Black Friday Has Changes The Cadence Of Holiday Sales. Black Friday has arrived in the UK with a bang, but for most eBusiness executives it hasn’t driven a massive sales uplift. Instead, it’s pulled customer purchasing forward in the holiday season, leaving like-for-like sales reasonably static.

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European eCommerce Pure Player Award Winner 2014 Announced!

Michelle Beeson

For the past few days, I have been soaking up the sun in Barcelona at the Global eCommerce Summit 2014.  In amongst attending some great presentations from the likes of Alibaba GroupTesco,Adolfo Dominguez and Philips, I was also part of the jury to select the Pure Player Award winner for 2014.

A long list of European pure player retailers were put through a rigorous Shop Experience Audit by GfK to identify a short list of five players that six jury members evaluated. The short list of candidates included Net-a-Porter, ASOS, Amazon, Zalando and Yoox.

It's been a tough choice because all candidates are very strong players. But, we the jury persevered and evaluated the candidates based on innovation, customer engagement and consistent multitouchpoint presence.  Here are the winners:

  • Winner Gold: ASOS. Jury Assessment: ASOS goes beyond purely generating sales. They work to be present at their customers’ moment of need at every stage in the customer life-cycle, including engaging customers so they come back again. Their content and communication is consistent, as is their presence across devices. They have strong growth from international sales and a multi country presence. They've also launched innovative features like the 'fashion finder' function and a pilot program for changing rooms at pick up points.
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