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E-sales rise for fashion globally, but country variations seen

Published
Jun 9, 2020
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The pandemic has led to a 38% uptick in online order volumes internationally for fashion e-stores, but only a 34% rise in order values. Consumers appear to be opting for value, although the proliferation of online clearance sales could also be a factor.


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That's according to a new report from AI-powered commerce experience platform Nosto, which looked at e-shopping activity in Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand (ANZ).

Despite the 38% rise in orders, overall traffic to webstores has risen only 13% year-on-year, but those consumers who do go online seem to be more committed to making a purchase with conversion rates having risen 16%.

Nosto tracked the performance of 271 fashion, apparel and accessories e-tailers between March 1 and May 26. With the European contingent including the UK, Germany, France and Sweden.

There seems to have been a similar pattern in most markets but a few quirks as well. 

Overall, webstores saw “dramatic drops with sales down 32% and traffic down 24% at their lowest on March 20”. But the numbers rebounded during April and while recovery continued in May, they’ve appeared “to be levelling off to a ‘new normal’ after some fluctuation”.

But digging deeper is where the quirks show up strongly. Despite variations across the period, taking the 87 days as a whole, web sales have risen 50% in the US, 44% in the UK and 42% in Germany. But they were up only 21% in France and 30% in ANZ. None of these figures reflect the severity of the coronavirus outbreak as seen by the similarity between the UK and German figures, despite those two countries’ very different Covid-19 experiences. 

And France suffered more than ANZ, even though the latter turned online more enthusiastically.

Only Sweden is down overall, although this could be linked to its less strict anti-coronavirus measures that stopped short of a full lockdown.

Given the varying sizes of the online sales increases, it’s also interesting to look at the percentages for the number of web visits and these seem to diverge noticeably from the sales figures. For instance, the highest sales rise is in the US, but site visits are only up 19%. But the UK, which saw a lower sales rise than the US, saw a 26% increase in visits. Webstore visits in Germany rose 15% and in ANZ 2%. But while they fell 3% in Sweden (no surprise given the overall sales fall there), they also fell (by 1%) in France.

Signs that consumers are bargain-conscious can be seen from declines in average order value (AOV) ranging from 5% to 9%, although ANZ, where the impact of the virus was less devastating, saw AOVs up 6%. And Nosto expects AOVs to stay down overall as countries emerge from lockdown.

There seem to be wide variations in the conversion rate, as it fell 20% in ANZ but rose in all the other markets. It rose just 7% in Sweden and 8% in the UK, but as much as 18% in France, 24% in Germany and 40% in the US.

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