The other day I bought two pairs of Levi’s jeans, an otherwise non-event in clothes buying. But this journey opened my eyes to the changing face of clothing e-commerce retail.
On its face, Amazon might find huge challenges selling its clothing lines online. After all, they have invested heavily in carrying their own exclusive brands. But their efforts may be signaling the possibilities for other retailers.
Luxury fashion houses, too, which to some may have been an untouchable market, are also among those looking toward e-commerce for its future. What this means, is the untying of one of the remaining connections to brick and mortar stores. E-commerce clothing buying means a greater need for service designers to create worthwhile experiences.
My own clothes buying experience may be unique but also illustrative of this growing trend. I am the type of clothes buyer who buys on need. And when I go into a store, I strike out to find what I’m looking for, and if it fits, I buy it. If after a couple of try-ons, nothing satisfies, I’m out the door. No regrets. It works for me.
My latest ‘need’ was a pair of white and a pair of black Levi’s jeans. The whole experience is, I believe, worth sharing because the exercise is, first of all, a service, and second, will impact most of us sooner or later.
Buying Levi’s jeans required figuring out style, size, and color, then where to buy–based loosely on price, although there’s not much difference among retailers. While you might have gathered I’m not a picky shopper, I should note there were far fewer jean choices growing up. For instance, there weren’t ‘pre-washed’ jeans, nor colored jeans; and ripped jeans were only available in ‘used’ jean stores that charged twice the price. In some European stores, previously worn jeans might have a tag saying something like ‘certified to have been previously worn by an American.’ Nowadays ripped jeans are exclusively women’s. I, for one, lament all the confusion.
The pursuit for my jeans involved what’s called an omni-channel experience, involving a number of channels, beginning with a call to customer service where an efficient representative picked up right away and answered my detailed questions. I still needed to check the look and feel of the fabrics, so off to a store. There I discovered one of the popular selling styles was stretch fabrics instead of original denim. That choice would lead someone to decide on buttons versus zippers and the placement of the brand copper rivets. I kid you not, some newer styles don’t have the iconic rivets.
At the store, they ordered my choices, something I could have done online. Within two days, three fewer than they said, the jeans arrived on my door, and as I looked out, I could see a Levi’s car. A day later, I saw another Levi’s car on an adjacent street delivering to my neighbor.
I can see the pieces coming together for a complete e-commerce experience, even though it’s not quite there for me in line with my shopping behavior.
The larger point is most if not all larger retailers, including Walmart, Home Depot, and the fashion houses among them, see a future and their fortunes through online experiences. At a recent staff meeting, The CEO of British-based luxury fashion house Burberry’s recently told a group of staff that the emphasis has to change from compelling shoppers to come into their stores, to securing shoppers’ invites into their homes.
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