Online-only retailers become number one fashion purchasing channel in ecommerce goldrush

Online-only retailers become number one fashion purchasing channel in ecommerce goldrush
Posted by Attraqt | 23 March 2021

Research shows almost half (45%) of all fashion shoppers now purchase via digital pureplays, such as ASOS and Boohoo.

London, UK – Tuesday March 23rd, 2021: With physical stores still hampered by social distancing measures and lockdown closures, new research reveals that the digital-only stalwarts continue to reap the rewards of having a well-established digital infrastructure. Online-only retailers such as ASOS and Boohoo have become the number-one purchasing channel for fashion shoppers in the UK ahead of high-street retailers’ online sites, department stores, brand stores and Amazon.

Wunderman Thompson Commerce, commercetools and Attraqt’s ‘Fighting for the Future of Fashion’ report – which surveyed 2,000 UK consumers who regularly shop for fashion items – found that a staggering two-thirds (69%) of fashion spending now takes place online. As non-essential shops reopen their doors in April, it’s clear that an online offering will still be vital to converting long-awaited footfall into much-needed sales.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, six-in-ten (63%) fashion shoppers are more likely to buy fashion online now than they were before the pandemic. Considering the British high street has undergone a wide-reaching digital transformation to meet the newly evolved consumer demand, fashion retailers can rest easy that even more fashion shopping will transition online in the coming months.

However, there’s still life in fashion’s bricks-and-mortar, with a quarter (26%) of fashion shoppers wanting to touch and feel a product before making a purchase.

While it’s not yet the major player for purchasing fashion, Amazon’s role in the fashion market is also growing. It is the most visited fashion site amongst UK consumers – with six-in-ten (60%) fashionistas visiting Amazon to shop for clothes and accessories.

And a quarter (27%) of fashion shoppers agree that Amazon would need to improve its overall look and feel for them to shop on the site more regularly.

What’s more, consumers expect fashion ranges to change on average 17 times a year – This could present challenges to fashion brands and retailers that aren’t agile, don’t adapt quickly, and haven’t invested in the right technological and systems architecture.

Hugh Fletcher, Global Head of Consultancy and Innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said: “The world of fashion has likely been changed irreparably by COVID-19. Commercial premises have, at least for the time being, become a financial strain, and some fashion retailers have been forced to digitally transform their operations overnight in order to cash in on the migration to digital channels.

“Now is the time for fashion stores to invest in their omnichannel offering. Exclusive deals, alongside a continued refresh of product ranges and delivery incentives, are likely to differentiate the strong fashion retailers and brands from the weak. Those that can find a successful balanced strategy will see the scales tip in their favour come the year end.”

Martin Lloyd, Marketing Manager UK & Northern Europe at commercetools, said: “Consumers are no longer content with the simple purchase transaction; they want to have an experience attached to it which today is driven by the digital technologies they are exposed to. They want to interact, belong, influence and be the personal version of the brands from which they buy.  This means fashion brands have no option but to become digitally savvy brands and embrace digital transformation.”

David Newberry, Chief Marketing Officer at Attraqt, said: “Brand websites and apps are still the dominant place where shoppers search for new products. When you combine this with the fact that, on average, fashion shoppers will have visited a site 3.33 times before making their purchase, it is clear that online retailers must deliver exceptional product discovery experiences if they are to win the hearts and minds of their shoppers.”

And the most significant period of fashion spending is yet to come for retailers. In fact, half (47%) of fashion shoppers buy items for their summer holidays – making it the number one yearly event for fashion spend. Not only that, but nearly six-in-ten (57%) fashion shoppers buy products on Black Friday, giving fashion retailers time yet to get their online house in order.

But, after a year of financial turmoil, as lockdown measures relax, it’s important to remember that consumers are deal hungry and price sensitive. Two-fifths (40%) of fashion shoppers agree that exclusive deals would encourage them to purchase items more quickly, while a third (32%) said that retailers should offer better discounts and promotions.

Download “Fighting for the Future of Fashion” report here.


The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,052 consumers who have bought fashion online at least once in the last month in the UK between 03.02.21 – 09.02.21.

Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.


About Wunderman Thompson Commerce

Wunderman Thompson Commerce is a global eCommerce consultancy of 1500+ commerce experts across more than 20 offices, united in helping clients win through eCommerce.

We define and deliver digital growth for ambitious brands, retailers and manufacturers.  The cornerstone is inspiration – and we seek and promote it in all that we do.

Our global eCommerce consultancy offers strategic clarity, technology enablement and creative insight and delivers winning commerce capabilities across all major channels:  marketplaces (including Amazon), online retailers, D2C and social commerce.

We help brands increase results at scale on Amazon, deliver eCommerce strategy and optimise multichannel journeys. We inspire customer engagement and transactions at every touchpoint, while deploying and integrating world class technology from key strategic partners including Adobe, SAP, Salesforce, HCL, Shopify, BigCommerce & commercetools.

Clients include AkzoNobel, DFS, Halfords, Jumbo, RXBAR, Sainsbury’s, Selfridges, Specialized, Tempur and Tiffany & Co.

We are part of Wunderman Thompson, a WPP agency which is part creative agency, part consultancy and part technology company, and whose experts provide end-to-end capabilities at a global scale, to deliver inspiration across the entire brand and customer experience.

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About commercetools

commercetools is the world’s leading platform for next-generation B2C and B2B commerce. To break the market out of being restrained by legacy suites, commercetools invented a headless, API-first, multi-tenant SaaS commerce platform that is cloud native and uses flexible microservices. This enables customers to deliver the best commerce experiences across all touchpoints.

Founded in Germany in 2006, commercetools has worldwide offices spanning the US, Europe and Asia Pacific, with a customer base of Fortune Global 500 companies across industries.

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About Attraqt

Attraqt powers exceptional shopping experiences for over 300 of the world’s leading brands, manufacturers and retailers. Attraqt provides a set of API-enabled, algorithm-driven, intelligent SaaS services covering personalisation, search, navigation, merchandising, recommendations and internationalisation.

The Attraqt platform orchestrates AI models in real-time while allowing clients to integrate their own algorithms. This helps build true personalisation strategies and creates differentiated experiences at scale, so our customers can exceed the expectations of today’s shopper, while reaching commercial goals.

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