Why shop in a store when you can shop online? More and more people are finding themselves asking this very question. In August of last year, it was estimated that there were approximately 201 million online consumers in the United States. E-commerce sales in the U.S. are steadily growing at a rate of 10 percent a year. By 2015, it is estimated that they will total $279 billion. Globally, E-commerce sales are growing by more than 19 percent a year and will reach almost $1.4 trillion by 2015. In other words, online shopping isn’t going anywhere.
How it all started
When it came time for my final project, I knew I wanted to create an app that had something to do with E-commerce. Given the fact that mobile E-commerce growth has steadily been increasing since 2009, the idea I had of creating a mobile app related to this industry seemed to be worthwhile. However, nothing could be done without first doing some research.
I first asked myself, why do consumers shop online? I know for me, it’s about convenience. Anything that makes my life easier is OK in my book. According to an infographic created by Invesp, 73 percent of consumers prefer shopping online because it saves them time. Sixty-seven percent of respondents say that online shopping gives them more variety.
But not everyone shops online. And why is that? Well, a lack of technology could serve as a limitation. As we’ve already learned in this course, just because we are fortunate enough to have access to a computer doesn’t mean the rest of the world also has this luxury. Aside from a lack of technology, what other factors might contribute to someone’s decision to not shop online? Personally, I enjoy shopping online. The ability to scroll through an endless amount of products, select what you want and then have it shipped right to your door is so convenient. That being said, there are certain items I tend not to buy online, such as clothes and shoes, because I don’t know how they will fit. It turns out, I’m not alone. According to a survey conducted by HuffPost Style and YouGov last October, 32 percent of the 1,000 respondents said that they never shop online. According to The Huffington Post’s results, while “promises of expedience, free shipping and professional gift-wrapping, at a minimal price, might be tempting at first, it seems that people are becoming increasingly frustrated with the impersonal user experience and the mistakes that occur as a result of this.” Some women, specifically, also say that they actually enjoy the experience of going to a mall and shopping for clothing in person.
Based on what I had researched about the E-commerce industry, I had an idea for an app called Fit To Wear that would serve as a virtual clothes trying app. The app would allow you to see how different items of clothing would look/fit on you and then allow you to purchase them directly from the app so that there would be no need to go to the mall. The app would utilize a picture of your face as well as your dimensions and then would allow you to try on the items of clothing of your choosing. My goal would be to get as many of the big name department stores and smaller-scale stores such as Express, Banana Republic, The Limited and, of course, Brooks Brothers, to participate. I’d also want to make it as easy as possible for customers to receive support from these stores while they’re navigating their way through the app, since many people have said that they feel “frustrated by the impersonal user experience” of shopping online. Additionally, making shipping free or, at least, low cost would also likely entice more customers to use this app.
As we’ve already learned, before implementing an idea, it’s always good to do your research, so I utilized the qualitative research method of surveys to find out whether my social media friends would consider using Fit to Wear, how much they value the various features I’m proposing and if they have any suggestions for additional ones. I used Qualtrics to create my 10-question survey. Below, I’ve included my results.
1. What is your gender?
Fifty-two people took my electronic survey. Of these 52 respondents, 33 were female and 19 were male.
2. Do you shop for clothes online?
Thirty-four of my respondents currently shop for clothes online, which is good considering that my app has to do with E-commerce. However, 18 of them, which is still a considerable amount, do not currently shop online.
3. How often do you purchase clothes online?
The majority of my survey respondents, 30, to be exact, said that they purchase clothes online once a month or less, followed by 17 of them, who said they never purchases clothes online. In my opinion, buying clothes online once a month or less is probably average, but perhaps there’s a way to make this a more frequent occurrence.
4. What prevents you from purchasing clothes online? Please select all that apply.
For this question, I wanted to try to gauge why certain people opt not to shop online. As I suspected, the majority of my respondents said that the reason they don’t shop online is because they’re not sure how the clothes will fit/look on them. And I can’t blame them. The next highest group said that the cost of shipping can often be too high. Immediately following this group was the group that said that they liked the experience of shopping at a mall. It would be hard to satisfy the needs of this group because I wouldn’t really be able to replicate the feel of a mall on my app, but what I could do is try to make it as similar of an experience to shopping at a mall as I possibly could. For example, I’d allow people to do some virtual window shopping and let them easily swap out various items of clothing to see how they would look. Rather than only allow people to try on outfits, I would allow them to try on individual pieces of clothing as they would be able to in a mall. That being said, four of my respondents are still weary of using a credit card for online shopping. While this is only a small percentage of my respondents, I’m sure there are others out there who have the same concerns. What I could do to ease their worries is make it possible for people to use gift cards to make their online purchases. Three of respondents said they don’t always like the company’s online return policy, so I would work with these stores to try to get them to agree to free returns on items purchased from the app. And finally, five of my respondents already shop for clothes online, so these people wouldn’t need much convincing to use Fit to Wear.
5. How likely would you be to download and use an app that would let you try on clothes virtually to see how they would fit/look on you?
Based on my survey results for this question, it seems that not everyone is convinced of my idea for the Fit to Wear app. The good thing is that 21 of my respondents said they would be likely to download Fit to Wear. Still, 15 of them actually said they would be unlikely to download it. Maybe they’d like other features incorporated in it or perhaps, they’d like early adopters to try it first to make sure it really worked before they jumped on the bandwagon. Either way, going into this, I knew not everyone would be so easily swayed. At least the number of respondents who said they would be very likely to download it, 10, was greater than the number of respondents who said they would be unlikely to download it, six.
6. Besides being able to to try on clothes, would you want to be able to purchase them and checkout directly from the app?
An overwhelming majority said that they would like it if Fit to Wear allowed you to not only try on clothes to see how they would fit, but also to purchase these items directly from the app.
7. Would you like to see other items included in the app, such as shoes and accessories?
Most of my survey respondents said they would prefer it if there were other items in the app besides just clothing, so I could make sure I also added shoes and accessories to Fit to Wear to entice more people to use the app.
8. What features would be most important to you in an app like this? Please rank them in order of importance. (1=most important, 7=least important)
I included this question because I wanted to gauge from my respondents what features they would most like to see in an app such as mine. From the looks of it, it seems that the majority would like it if there were free shipping. Coming in at No. 2 is discounts/coupons with free shipping closely following. My respondents ranked easy returns as No. 3. For No. 4, it was a tie between ability to purchase items directly from app and free shipping. For No. 5, it was again a tie, but this time it was between selection of stores featured and selection of items featured. For No. 6, most people chose selection of stores featured. A large majority of my respondents said that the GPS feature would be their least important feature. Overall, what I can gather from these results is that free shipping is king!
9. Would you be willing to pay a nominal fee of 99 cents to use this app?
It seems that people are pretty split on this question. I, personally, don’t typically pay for apps, so I can relate to those 20 respondents. However, if I found out about an app like Fit to Wear that would save me the time and hassle of going to the mall on a crowded Saturday afternoon, I would likely be inclined to pay the one-time fee of 99 cents. Given the fact that my respondents are pretty unsure on this one, I would probably first make it a paid app to see how many people would actually download it. If I wasn’t seeing many downloads, I’d likely remove the 99-cent fee.
10. What other features would you like to see implemented in this app? We’d love to hear your feedback.
I’ve included a few of my favorite suggested features below.
- A virtual that would allow you to see how the clothing looks on different body types and ethnicities and a rewards program, i.e. you get points for shopping leading to discounted or free clothing
- It would be nice to have a place where you can read product reviews and are encouraged to write them in.
- To be able to try on more than one item at a time to see how they go together.
- Link to PayPal for payment options
- A prepaid return label for not only easy, but free returns would make me feel better about ordering clothes I haven’t tried on (even if I’ve digitally tried them on). Perhaps rather than including one with every single shipment, you could do it on a request basis, and email or generate the label within the app when requested so that the returner could simply box up the item, print out the label, tape it on and drop it off at a Fed-Ex or UPS store.
It would have be nice to have been able to get more people to take my survey, but I would say given the fact that I did not provide people with an incentive other than, “Please help me out with my final project,” 52 is a pretty nice turnout. In general, women prefer shopping for clothes more than men do, so my results may have been less biased had the number of female and male responses been more even. Also, after I made the survey, I realized that I didn’t make answering all of my survey questions a requirement, so some people actually skipped what they considered to be the more lengthy/ difficult questions. If I were to do it all over again, I would change this feature.
After analyzing my results, I think I may do well testing out the app before actually fully launching it. It seems that Fit to Wear is a good idea, but I really need to figure out what my target age group and income level would be because that would give me a better idea of what kind of stores to feature and how to market my app. For example, if my target age group ends up being those who are 35-44, I would likely use Facebook to promote my app; however, if my target age group ends up being those 18-34, I would likely use Instagram or Twitter to promote it. The same goes for income levels. If I find that people of a higher income level prefer my app, I would make sure to tailor the store options to better suit their preferences. For instance, I likely wouldn’t have TJ Maxx as one of my store options if this were the case.
Although, I, personally, don’t know how to design an app, I’m hoping that one day I’ll be able to partner with someone who knows how to do so because I think Fit to Wear would be a great addition to the app world!