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What Women Really Want When Shopping for Clothes

shopping habits of women

Alert Tech recently hired a retail technologist to perform an informal survey of two dozen women between 19 and 33. The goal of this study was to get inside the female buyer’s mind and understand how women shop.

The results were quite telling. After learning about shopping habits and retail preferences, the findings gave retailers a lot of significant data to use in their store.

Here are some of the most compelling findings from the survey.

Premeditated Shopping 

75% of women said they go online and choose their purchases before going to the store.  Most of the purchases women make are pre-meditated. Fewer are spur of the moment splurges.

Even so, all of the women agreed that shopping with a product in mind does not mean they won’t leave the store without other items. Most of the time, these other items are accessories or complementary goods to the original piece they hand in mind.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

Buy Online, Pick Up In Store 

You might analyze the premeditated shopping behavior and think having the option to buy online and pick up in the store would make your customers happier. That’s not always the case.

As a rule, the respondents said they loved having the option to buy online and pick up in the store. However, as soon as they’d reach the store, they’d head to the fitting room and try on their new purchase there. If they fit, they’d keep the items! If not, they’d exchange them.

Seems pretty straightforward, but when a woman had to wait in line for the fitting room, she usually changed her mind and left the store. If she didn’t like the items once she tried them on at home, she’d return her items the next day. Instead of exchanging the item for another size or shopping around for something different, she simply returned them – something that’s all too common in the retail business.

To keep people in your store when you offer the buy online, pick up in store option, it is imperative that you have a short fitting room queue.

Offering the fitting room to the buy online customer gives a better chance of a sale, instead of the sale and return that is all too common. 

Finding the Right Clothes 

While in the store, women browse with the intention of stumbling on their pre-meditated purchase. The way you present your merchandise plays a significant role in the experience women have in your store.

For example, coordinating the store by color actually makes women angry. All of this leads to aimless wandering and a lost opportunity for sales or conversion.

women's shopping frustrations

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The shopping frustrations go on. The three biggest issues women had about their shopping experiences were:

  1. Not being able to find the product and going to a competitors store to find alternatives.
  2. Finding the product in the wrong size and going to another store.
  3. Finding the product in the right size but they don’t like it.

Each of these issues points to poor merchandising. Only a third of women said they’d continue browsing, but their disappointment would lower their interest in buying. The remaining two-thirds said they’d go to another store and start again instead. 

Willing to Wait? 

When women were asked about their willingness to wait in line for a fitting room, every single woman said they would refuse to queue up at the register unless the purchase was for a particular event. The same response held true for queuing at the fitting room.

Women are busy. Asking a woman to wait in a line to buy a piece of clothing is unacceptable in her eyes so, she’ll decline to purchase altogether losing you the sale. 

The Perfect Fit 

Seeing an item online drives a woman into her car and to the store. Nixing the aimless wandering once at the store was a driving factor in choosing one store over a competitor. If there were complementary sales for the product they were purchasing also available to try at the same time, there was a 90% chance they’d make multiple purchases.

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Case in point: Victoria’s Secret

All of the women surveyed had visited Victoria’s Secret at one time or another. Only 8 of the youngest members had used the fitting room. Each of them remembered using the buttons in the fitting room to call an attendant. Each of them loved the experience!

Instead of having to get dressed and go look for a different size, Victoria’s Secret made the fitting experience a delight. All women agreed: the personal service dramatically increased the chance of a sale. 

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Women’s Shopping Habits Takeaway

Understanding your buyer’s behavior gives you the chance to enhance your buyer’s experience from start to finish. Your buyers will love the experience, and your store will earn more sales.

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