Trends Show Shopping for Apparel is Quickly Becoming a Mobile Activity

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Trends Show Shopping for Apparel is Quickly Becoming a Mobile Activity

By David Sikora - 01/27/2011

Some women will always enjoy shopping as a leisure activity, but in today’s fast-paced world, many aren’t able to devote the time it takes to go from store to store to find that perfect outfit or pair of shoes.  And most men would do anything to avoid a shopping trip even if they did have the extra couple of hours.  In a world where everything’s due date seems to be yesterday, mobile is quickly emerging as the solution.

mCommerce takes shopping from time-consuming to convenient at any hour from any location. Mobile commerce saves consumers time by empowering them with the ability to search, browse and buy in 60 seconds or less, and provides shoppers with a wealth of knowledge about a product through ratings and reviews.

Mobile as a new channel makes shopping for apparel more fun, elegant and simple, so it is no wonder that retailers are quickly moving mobile commerce to the top of their to-do lists as “must-haves” to stay relevant to their increasingly mobile and time-pressed customers. With more than 65 million smartphones expected to ship in the U.S. alone this yeari and with ABI Research predicting that mobile commerce will be a $119 billion global industry in 2015, retailers can no longer delay adding the mobile channel to their portfolio. 

According to Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker, the mobile channel will be bigger than the Internet alone in five yearsii. Consumers are quickly adapting to the ease and convenience that the ever-emerging technology around them provides. Being able to purchase sportswear, dresses, outerwear, accessories, etc. from anywhere at any time through a mobile-optimized experience is quickly shifting from a luxury to the expected.

With mobile commerce growing at an exponential rate, retailers are quickly realizing the importance of creating a robust and personal mobile shopping experience for their customers.  According to a Forrester Research study produced in conjunction with, 74 percent of online retailers have initiated a mobile strategy.  Retailers developing their mobile strategy or looking at it for the first time should consider the following elements to ensure their mobile channel is a long-term success:

Retailers can reach the majority of their mobile customers through a mobile-optimized web site. 

Retailers that optimize a mobile web site to look sleek and elegant across all popular smartphone platforms while also increasing speed and ease-of-use create a mobile shopping experience for a broad range of customers.  A truly optimized mobile web site by today’s standards will include:

  • Easy navigation through breadcrumbs, dynamic categories and product search;
  • Brand and product promotion through featured items, best sellers, new arrivals, clearance and a zip/geo code store locator; 
  • A social experience with options to share via Facebook, Twitter and email;
  • Rich and vibrant mobile-optimized product images and product videos; and
  • Great customer support features, including shopping cart view, check order status, one touch to call a customer service representative, view the full e-commerce site, read the FAQs and retrieve a forgotten password.

Retailers’ most loyal customers download the iPhone, BlackBerry or Android App. Rich apps for iPhone/iPod touch, BlackBerry and Android devices empower retailers to build a closer, more personal relationship with their most loyal customers. Rich apps create entirely new and powerful ways for shoppers to interact with their favorite brands and drive incremental revenue.  Additionally, rich apps create a “brand in the hand” opportunity by having the retailer’s logo and app directly on the mobile device, leading to higher average dollar order transactions, more frequent customer interaction and higher conversion rates.

2011 will be the year of mobile commerce with an emphasis on the in-store mobile experience. This is the power of the retailer’s rich app as retailers want these mobile experiences to be under their own brand (offering bar-code product look-up, store check-in, etc).  The rich app will become the retailer’s loyalty card by allowing customers to check-in while in store to receive notifications, loyalty points and discount offers.

Consumers now expect their favorite retailers to make shopping experiences more convenient by enabling mobile. According to a 2010 IDC survey, 62 percent of consumers use their smartphones to search for a store location or directions; 40 percent search for price and product information; 38 percent check the status of an order; and while in store, 32 percent browse product reviews.

Consumers’ expectations are currently outpacing the market.  According to a Brand Anywhere and Luth Research study, 47 percent of mobile phone users say they are more likely to buy clothing and shoes from a mobile commerce site if the retailer has one enabled, but only 1.61 percent of clothing and shoe retailers have implemented a mobile strategy. Consumers are starting to buy fast and furiously from their mobile phones.  A recent Adobe mobile study found that 62 percent of consumers have made purchases of consumer products within a shopping category.

Mobile apparel sales are a growing part of the eCommerce revenue pie.  A recent study by Forrester Research and found that in the online apparel, accessory and footwear market, 1.9 percent of traffic and 1.8 percent of revenue came from the mobile channel. This is significant considering U.S. online sales of apparel, accessories and footwear was $27 billion in 2009 and is predicted to grow 17 percent in 2010, meaning that sales would reach $31 billion this year.  The apparel category is expected to grow faster than all other online retail sales over the next several years, according to a recent report by Forrester Research. 

The emerging prevalence of mobile-optimized web sites and rich apps provides customers with an elegant and simple shopping experience from the palms of their hands. Many well-known U.S. retail apparel brands, such as Arden B., Avenue, Brooks Brothers, Lilly Pulitzer, Tory Burch, Under Armour and Wet Seal already offer their customers a more enjoyable, user-friendly shopping experience through unique mobile commerce sites.

Now is the time to go mobile.


David Sikora is founder and CEO of Digby. Digby mobilizes retailers, helping them take a strategic approach to mobile commerce by delivering a unique branded experience for the mobile web and rich apps for today’s consumers anytime and anywhere. The Digby Mobile Commerce Software Platform is a fully-managed suite of applications designed for iPhone/iPod touch, BlackBerry and Android devices that empowers retailers to optimize their mobile strategy and unify their web, in-store and catalog channels. Solely focused on the retail channel since 2006 and with more than 45 top retailers already enabled including Toys“R”Us, Costco, The Home Depot, Lilly Pulitzer, Wet Seal, Godiva, 1-800-Flowers, Golfsmith, Orvis and many more, Digby is the leading provider of mobile commerce for retailers. Learn more about us at


iiiCanalys, “North American smart phone shipments to exceed 65 million units in 2010,” 2010

iiiMorgan Stanley, “Internet Trends,”, April 12, 2010.

iiiForrester Research, “US Online Retail Forecast, 2009 To 2014,” 2010.