There are two primary online retailing models for men: the Amazon, Asos, Gilt Groupe model, where the brand lets the reseller sell for them and the direct-to-consumer model, which is self-explanatory. However, the explosion of each type of model, especially for men, results in sheer pandemonium for shoppers.
So what’s wrong with this experience today?
Let’s start with one of the target consumers: men. To start with, men often lack detailed knowledge of clothing, prefer ease in shopping and can easily be overwhelmed by plethora of choice. This psychology contradicts the dynamics of today’s marketplace where men are faced with the proliferation of choice both online and offline — for example, a Google search of “online men’s shopping sites” now yields a whopping 182 million results.
Additionally, if a male shopper searches for men’s gingham shirts, they see a mish-mash of shirts that are on sale and “how fast” it can be shipped. This search usually shows nothing about the craftsmanship such as the yarn count or where the fabric comes from. In a nutshell, the shopper not only knows nothing about the quality, but also doesn’t understand what differentiates one gingham shirt from another.
The challenge for men’s retailers is therefore to deliver increased value through education, create clear, compelling experiences and build genuine relationships. Considering the significant challenges facing both types of retailers, below are three ways every retailer — especially those tailored to men — can deliver a high-value and personalized experience:
Bring Brand Soul Back To The Shop
Shopping online can be a completely soulless experience. When a male customer buys a shirt off of Google Shopping, he can lose everything the brand set out to be sold for. Unless he enjoys the Kirkland special at Costco, he really isn’t getting much from that shopping experience — nothing in terms of technicality, fit or form and nothing romantic, like brand.
Bring soul back through education and conversation about the brand, both online and in store. If you’re an online reseller, offer insight behind the brand in the online description and train your sales people in the art of the brands you’re selling if you have a physical location. For example, Barneys in store sales people do a great job of understanding the soul of each of the brands they sell, so customers take away the brand’s individual value along with passion behind the garment they are purchasing.
Mimic The Offline Experience In Direct-To-Consumer
Direct-to-consumer is one of the best ways to be able to offer an authentic brand experience. Brands like Warby Parker have found a way to balance the shopping experience and overall brand knowledge by using the entire website to tell a story that in the past could only be conveyed in-store or in physical collateral. Their story continues from the front of the site all the way through end of purchase, ultimately surrounding the customer with their story.
Online retailers need to mimic the offline experience through brand and voice. For example, consider how your company ships packages to the consumer and ensure these assets convey the emotion, vision and sincerity that is cohesive with what is on the website. Effective storytelling can help build that genuine relationship and create a differentiated and meaningful customer experience.
Be Transparent On Quality
Some male retailers offer their unique value by offering made to order items or personalized delivery services. However, considering the competitive and crowded online male retail market, retailers need to emphasize their tailoring experience, depth of high-fashion knowledge and engage in educational dialogue on quality and the source of their materials. When an item is made from superior resources, that product will consistently outshine competitors, draw more customers and help strengthen brand loyalty. By showing how quality clothing fits in the context of customers’ lives, retailers can help men easily navigate the increasingly complex retail space and consistently pick your brand over the competition.