The fashion ecommerce sector is currently undergoing a major transformation. Revenues are growing globally, while business models are evolving as new direct to consumer entrants lead the trend of providing more personalised experiences to online shoppers. To find out what this means for retailers and their online strategies, Nosto analysed consumer behaviour across 1.2 billion visits to fashion websites during 2018. By looking at key metrics such as revenue per visit, conversion rates, time on site and the device used, the aim is to provide insight to help fashion ecommerce players successfully compete.

Covering the UK, US, Nordics, France and Germany/Austria/Switzerland (DACH), the research shows a market that is growing rapidly. Between Q1 and Q4 of 2018, average revenue per visit (RPV) increased globally by 33% on desktop and 38% on mobile. However, digging into the analysis in more detail highlights four key trends for those involved in online fashion ecommerce:

1. We’ve reached the mobile tipping point in fashion ecommerce

It has been promised for a while, but fashion retailers are now seeing more sales coming from smartphones than desktops. 46% of spend is coming from mobile, with 44% from desktop and 10% tablets. Not only are smartphones driving more sales, but they are also overwhelmingly the biggest source of traffic – 58% of visits are on mobile, nearly twice as many as on desktop (31%). However, there is still a gap between global average order value on mobile ($103) compared to desktop ($120). What all of this means for fashion retailers is that they need to adjust their strategies, not just ensuring that their sites are mobile-optimised for browsing, but also for buying.

2. Mobile shoppers are impatient

The good news on the rise of mobile shopping also brings challenges. Consumers spend considerably less time on site when using smartphones compared to the desktop – in the UK visits last an average of 161 seconds (mobile) and 235 seconds (desktop). That’s under 2 and a half minutes for retailers to turn browsers into buyers, by offering them a personalised experience with the products they’ll be most interested in. At the same time they need to deliver this on a much smaller screen in a seamless, intuitive way that will appeal to buyers. Otherwise they’ll join the 80% of visitors that the research found abandon mobile shopping carts without checking out.

3. UK leads the world in converting online traffic to sales

Looking into the local picture, fashion retailers in the UK are the most successful globally at persuading online visitors to buy, both on mobile and desktop. They generate conversion rates of 1.6% on mobile and 2.9% on desktop (considerably higher than corresponding global rates of 1.3% and 2.4% respectively). In comparison, conversion rates in North America are just 1.0% (mobile) and 2.2% (desktop).

However, while UK shoppers are more likely to convert, and tend to have more items in their basket, they spend around 27% to 32% less on each order than the global average. Essentially, they seem to be shopping little and often. Retailers need to find ways to increase order sizes, building on these high conversion rates. Tactics could include delivering personalised recommendations for alternative, higher value items. This potentially boosts order value and consequently leads to greater revenues.

4. Online fashion behaviour varies considerably between regions

Across the world, there are enormous differences in shopper behaviour, covering everything from time spent on site to average order value, demonstrating that a one size fits all strategy won’t appeal to everyone. For example, French shoppers seem to love using their phones for digital window shopping. They have the longest visit times on mobile (186 seconds), more than 20 seconds longer than the global average of 164s. But all of this time doesn’t translate into sales – while 47% of traffic is from mobile, the conversion rate is just 0.9%. This means that at $0.53, average revenue per visit from mobile is only 34% that of desktop.

In the DACH countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), consumers appear to be highly “committed shoppers”. Essentially, if they add something to their online cart, they are more likely than any of the other countries analysed to go through with making a purchase. The DACH region has the lowest cart abandonment rates on both mobile and desktop: 73% and 66% (compared with corresponding global averages of 80% and 74%). This is linked to the ease of returning unwanted products in Germany, which is also shown by larger basket sizes. On average DACH shoppers checkout with 4.4 items in their basket on desktop, and 3.5 on mobile. In the UK the figures are just 2.3 and 2.8 respectively.

All of this proves the importance of creating a tailored strategy. Every country is looking for a different type of fashion ecommerce experience, and you need to reflect that, tuning your website so that it best appeals to their individual needs.

As the Nosto analysis shows, opportunities are growing for fashion ecommerce retailers, as traffic, order values, and revenues all increase. However, it highlights that they also face a growing challenge to attract and convert time-poor, impatient mobile shoppers. They need to deliver a personalised experience if they want to succeed, wherever they are operating across the world.

James White

James White


Head of UK and Ireland, Nosto