It's no news online shopping is a popular sport for both men and women. However, men have been surpassing women when making purchases on the Web (surprise surprise)! In fact, according to a CNBC report, men tend to outspend the ladies by 20 to 30 percent per transaction, and it’s not music or gadgets that are leading the online shopping trend for men; rather, it’s menswear and accessories that dominate the male online consumer market.
So instead of focusing only gender-based stereotypes, fashion shopping sites need to be tailored for the gents through understanding their typical course of action when they seek for and buy apparel online.
If you'd like your fashion business to reach the male demographic more effectively, here are four important male shopping traits you need to know:
1. Men as shoppers do their (rigorous) research
Men are highly determined especially when getting things done - and this is what makes them practical fashion shoppers. A significant finding from a June 2011 survey conducted by Men's Health and GfK Roper is that men are more highly engaged than women when it comes to online product research, ranging from reading reviews to online social shopping. An overwhelming 84 percent of male consumers prefer to research and buy online for two to three times a month.
This suggests that even before visiting your website, men would already have an idea as to what kinds of clothes, shoes or garment they want to purchase. By the time they start looking at your product catalog, it would simply be a matter of leading them to where their goal is - the product that matches the one they're planning to buy.
2. Men may be more accustomed to online shopping-related activities
Performics's 2011 Social Shopping Study revealed that men are more likely than women to conduct five of six social shopping activities - such as reading product information and reviews, comparing retailers, finding product availability and getting store information via social media - as opposed to women who were more inclined to search for deals, coupons and discounts on e-commerce sites.
Because of accessible digital tools, men have become active online consumers who purchase items regularly. Even when they go to offline stores, they use their smartphones and tablets as tools to make shopping decisions. iProspect, a global digital performance agency, states that affluent male consumers expect a seamless online shopping experience across different devices. This means that gaudy site interfaces and complicated shopping options may derail your male shoppers from purchasing your products.
The less fathomable your e-commerce site interface is, the less likely they'll return (let alone buy something from your online shop). Thus elements on your site should look neatly placed together, highlighting your product images efficiently. A little change from your website wouldn't hurt every now and then, especially if it's for the benefit of site searchability. However, try to refrain from frequently changing visual elements such as colors, layout and position of your navigation buttons, as you'll lose your site's 'signature look', thus preventing your male shoppers from becoming familiar and more engaged with your site.
3. Men are more likely to return to transparent shopping sites
Men can be loyal to your brand if you have met their expectations and earned their trust. You can achieve this ideal company-customer relationship by providing a transparent shopping experience.
Being transparent means giving concise and accurate details on your product pages. This includes actual product pictures, availability status, dimensions, price, delivery costs, shipping options, and other information relevant to the fashion products featured on each page.
In addition, before uploading images of your fashion products, make sure that these images are optimized for quality viewing. Some retail sites even have a 360-degree viewing feature, providing a more realistic look at their apparel. Furthermore, payment options must also be accessible across all individual product pages for a more convenient transaction. You also need to have a returns policy indicated on the product page, shopping page and checkout.
4. Research-to-purchase journey should be completed with “the fewest clicks possible”
A study on gender-specific e-commerce habits affirms that males are more willing to purchase online because they value time-saving and convenient shopping. Just like any sensible shopper, men don't like to waste time dealing with shopping errors and want their buying journey to be quick and straightforward.
When asked in a survey how luxury marketers can improve their retail strategies, men responded with "simplicity" and "ease". They want their buying journey on online sites to be as seamless as possible without encountering errors or technical issues on the site while looking for clothes or shoes.
This means that even the smallest usability barriers that test the patience of your male shoppers could actually cost you sales! Based on these observed shopping habits, find time to implement the following digital strategies that can improve your onsite functions:
Filters for frictionless shopping
Instead of offering an overview of all the products available by scrolling up and down, a good idea would be to allow your shoppers to narrow down their choices using filters to find the product that matches their immediate need.
Providing filters will let them control what they see, making it easier to find the item they’ll purchase in your shop. If you manage multiple fashion brands on your website, you can provide filtered navigation by creating a section in your site (e.g. sidebar) that allows your shoppers to browse based on different attributes such as brand, price, size, etc.
Search is men's (online) shopping best friend
Aside from filters, onsite search has become men’s trusted shopping tool, especially when jumping from one website to another. 96 percent of affluent males use search to learn more about fashion brands and products they want to purchase. Making your fashion site more suitable for men with user-friendly search function is highly recommendable, but can you really make something visual like fashion work with mere keywords?
In the highly visual world of the web, men encounter items that they want through image exposure. 74 percent of consumers even say that text-based keyword queries don’t help them find the right item at all! Fashion items are more recognizable through images rather than text descriptions. Men are also more likely to recall clothes they want to buy based on physical attributes. Instead of using generic-sounding keywords (e.g. “brown leather shoes”) to make your items shoppable, why not harness the power of innovative alternatives like visual search technology?
Visual search simplifies the shopping experience for both men and women. Your male shoppers can use digital media assets (photos, screenshots, images) as search queries as they sift through the items in your product catalog. It can lead them directly to the product in your inventory that matches the look of their desired items, making shopping faster for men and generating higher sales for your online shop.
Furthermore, men who shop online also want to be able to find relevant items efficiently without going through a complicated process of entering several keywords.
What men want: The smooth road to shopping
We’ve learned that shopping is a purposive activity rather than a leisurely hobby for most men. They start by having clear shopping goals in mind, and every step of the buyer's journey is a proactive action on their part to get nearer to that "check out" button. Thus you need to focus on making your content and platform more interactive and shoppable to men by making it more transparent or integrating helpful tools such as visual search technology.
By adapting to men’s shopping strategies via site improvements that efficiently address their needs, you can expect valuable rewards: according to Megan Grant, senior vice president of Marketing for Kiehl's, men are more likely than women to buy in bulk and come back for another purchase.