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Apparel Digital Maturity Report

As the apparel industry sought to regain its footing from a disastrous 2020, retailers with investments in digital technologies prior to or early in the pandemic fared far better financially, according to Incisiv’s 2021 Apparel, Footwear & Accessories Digital Maturity Index, produced in partnership with Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES).

According to the report, the buying journey has been forever changed, and digital is now the starting point for over 90% of shoppers. Proving that the path to purchase decision is no longer linear, 70% of traffic to apparel retailers’ websites is from mobile devices. Nearly 70% of market sales now come from a digital platform.

Additional key takeaways from the report include:

• In research & discovery, personalization and product recommendations saw the highest growth in maturity. Retailers that added sections for cross-selling on product page saw the most growth at 60%.

• In online ordering, the “buy-now, pay-later” trend led the way with close to 60% of retailers now offering the option. However, one of the most critical components of retail, inventory visibility, saw almost no advancement in maturity.

• In fulfillment, contactless pick-up and self-service capabilities saw the most growth while other pick-up options such as pick-up in-store and expedited pick-up continue to lag more mature segments in this area, such as grocery.

• In customer service, communication channels such as subscribing for text alerts and virtual assistants saw the most growth (although still low at less than 35% adoption) and shopper engagement capabilities saw the least growth year-on-year.

“The apparel industry has had to endure unparalleled disruption to their business models in the last 24 months. The segment should be commended for the speed by which they have adapted,” said Amarjot Mokha, Chief Operating Officer, Incisiv. “However, shopper behavior is a moving target, and the industry must still evolve to meet their expectations. We conduct this work to help retailers understand how they compare to their peers and to help identify high-impact improvement opportunities based on the complete digital shopper journey.”

The Incisiv Digital Maturity Index examines the biggest gaps and opportunities to improve the digital experience for these omnichannel shoppers, and shares which retailers currently deliver the best omnichannel experience. Incisiv recognizes 21 retailers and brands as Leaders, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Belk, DSW, Macy’s, Pacsun, Ralph Lauren and Target. The complete list of Leaders is available to download here.

“As revealed in the Incisiv report, digital is now the front door to the retail store and essential to profitability,” said Jeff Bradbury, senior marketing director, Hughes. “It’s not just about ecommerce but digital must be part of the entire customer journey – especially in the store, where the brand experience comes to life.”

Click here to download the complete findings from Incisiv’s 2021 Apparel Digital Maturity Benchmark Report.

Survey Methodology

Incisiv’s 2021 Apparel Digital Maturity Benchmark Report is based on insights from its proprietary digital maturity benchmarking methodology. The insights span 104 retailers, 180 digital capabilities and five industry segments of apparel retail. The report assessed on measurable attributes in the areas of research & discovery, online ordering, fulfillment, and customer engagement & experience. Attributes are categorized as table-stakes or differentiating based on their impact on key digital performance metrics such as average order value (AOV) and conversion.