How Are Specialty Retailers Combating Brand Forays Into Commerce?

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How Are Specialty Retailers Combating Brand Forays Into Commerce?

By Apparel Editors - 10/11/2017
Evolving consumer habits are driving more wallet share into the pockets of brands, forcing specialty retailers to invest heavily in unique digital and in-store experiences to maintain their edge.

The battle of the brand vs. the specialty retailer is on.

Evolving consumer habits are driving more wallet share into the pockets of brands, forcing specialty retailers to invest heavily in unique digital and in-store experiences to maintain their edge.

Astound Commerce’s latest report, Specialty Stores Invest to Survive, explores how specialty retailers and brands are adapting to these new conditions by evaluating the desktop, mobile and in-store experiences of 50 specialty retailers and 50 global brands. 

Merchandising

When it comes to merchandising, apparel retailers (42 percent) and department stores (50 percent) emphasize lookbooks as a way to engage shoppers. What's more, all department stores surveyed and 67 percent of apparel merchants cite channel or merchant exclusives as a margin builder.

Access to product details

Customers increasingly look for comprehensive information before committing to purchase a product and apparel retailers are working to meet this demand. Eighty-three apparel retailers surveyed enable shoppers to zoom in on products, all offer alternate product views and 92 percent offer real-time inventory info on the product page. However, just 8 percent offer a 3D view of the product (or the garment/model spinning) and another 8 percent apiece include product videos and how-to guides.

Checkout

Overall, specialty retailers are improving the checkout experience; it's down to 4.8 from 5.23 when Astound its data from holiday 2016, and the continuing traffic shift from desktop to mobile is playing a significant role. Ninety-two percent of apparel retailers surveyed offer one-click checkout, and clicks to check out are lower than the average at 4.58.  

Advanced technologies

The report found that specialty retailers in general are providing more advanced technologies at every touchpoint to survive the increasingly brand-centric landscape, including:

  • Robust delivery options: Just 9 percent of brands offer ship to store options, as opposed to more than a quarter of specialty retailers (26 percent). More than half of specialty retailers offer in-store pickup (52 percent), compared to just 17  percent of brands.
  • In-store tech: While 40 percent of brands provided digital kiosks in store, 88 percent of specialty retailers use this technology in their locations.
  • Mobile apps: Three in 4 specialty retailers have a mobile app. Less than a quarter of brands can say the same (24 percent).