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Online sales increasingly important to clothing industry, survey finds

Nov 25. 2016
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By THE NATION

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COTTON USA has released its “2016 Global Lifestyle Monitor” report based on a consumer research study conducted in 10 countries, including Thailand.

According to the report, online apparel and footwear sales are projected to grow 68 per cent by 2020. The uptrend is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to embrace the omni-channel approach to broaden customers’ accessibility to their products and detailed information.

Kraipob Pangsapa, Cotton USA Asean representative, said: “Global Lifestyle Monitor is a biennial consumer research study sponsored by Cotton Inc and Cotton USA in the UK, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Mexico, Colombia, India, China, Japan and Thailand to study consumers’ apparel shopping behaviour.

“The results of the study provide insightful analyses to industry entrepreneurs on various topics, including consumer shopping habits, purchase drivers, key trends, and sustainability and social concerns. With these insights, business operators can plan on their product development, marketing and distribution channels to meet consumers’ needs and lifestyle preferences more effectively.”

He said the sample group in Thailand consisted of 1,000 respondents in Bangkok and other cities. The key findings of the study were the following.

Sustainability remains important, with 75 per cent of Thai consumers saying they seek it in their apparel purchases. Nearly all (98 per cent) of Thai consumers say that cotton fibre is safe for the environment, 81 per cent prefer cotton-rich clothing and about 67 per cent are willing to pay more for it. 

In comparison with manmade fibres, cotton is regarded as the most authentic by 82 per cent of the consumers, the most reliable by 81 per cent, the most sustainable by 80 per cent, and the softest and most comfortable by 73 per cent. 

Some 84 per cent of Thai consumers begin their online shopping journey on social media, an increase from 69 per cent in 2014, followed by 32 per cent who begin on search engines and 20 per cent on e-commerce websites.

As connectivity grows, the online world has become increasingly influ

 ential with the shopping patterns and decisions of Thai consumers. One-fifth of Thai consumers shop for clothing online. About 21 per cent shop online and use the Internet to seek information for their decision-making. 

The study revealed that 67 per cent use the Internet to browse fashion trends and clothing styles, 55 per cent to research apparel, and 46 per cent to read customer reviews. 

Their top concerns when shopping for clothes online were quality, as outlined by 91 per cent, shipping time by 79 per cent, clothing availability by 78 per cent, return policies by 77 per cent and information privacy by 77 per cent.

When asked about the retail channels to shop for clothing, 59 per cent of Thai consumers say they shop for most of their apparel at street markets, followed by 16 per cent at hypermarkets, 11 per cent at department stores, and 10 per cent at independent stores. 

“By 2030, Thai consumers’ spending on apparel is projected to grow 62 per cent above the Bt300 million in 2015,” Kraipob said. 

“Online apparel and footwear sales are expected to grow 68 per cent from Bt3 billion in 2015 to Bt5 billion by 2020. The figures suggest that Thai consumers tend to do more apparel shopping on online channels and increase social-media utilisation for their buying decisions. 

“The top factors that could influence these decisions are accurate product descriptions and detailed size information. As a result, entrepreneurs need to provide all the detailed product information sought by the consumers. 

“They should also prioritise development of their own online platforms and channels alongside offline sales channels and touchpoints, such as retail stores, in order to elevate consumers’ shopping experience across all channels,” he concluded.

 

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