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This week's top 5 business insights and e-commerce trends: 13 December 2019

Business · 4 mins

AOB: 13 December 2019

The countdown to Christmas is on, but we’re turning sights away from Santa and onto sustainability, flexible shopping solutions and how accessibility unlocks a massive audience. Find out more in this week’s AOB.

Fashionable Flower Power

Featherdown jackets might be a thing of the past with Pangaia’s luxury FLWRDWN1 – ‘flowerdown’ – puffer jacket. Ethically minded shoppers are increasing their scrutiny of their garments supply chains, and Lyst2 reports that sustainable fashion searches have risen 66% since 2018.

The FLWRDWN coat offers one solution to an ethical dilemma often faced by conscious consumers. It’s made from biodegradable, regenerating wildflowers, which are coated in bonding polymers and infused with a gel. Considering that nine in ten Gen Zers3 believe companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues, brands like Pangaia, who are paving the way for a featherless future in their product lines, will likely earn the loyalty of the growing number of eco-shoppers.

Flexible solutions this festive season

Shoppers are collectively expected to spend more during the 2019 holiday season than the holiday period from last year – with spend predictions of $1T in the US market alone4 – but many are still paying down credit card bills from 2018’s spending sprees.With retailers needing to cut through a deluge of deals, ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ options are gaining traction. This flexible retail solution is especially useful in unlocking the purchasing power of Gen Z and Millennial shoppers. While they might be credit shy, they are willing to explore and embrace new ways to pay. So, it will benefit your business to set up your shop to cater for the changing landscape of commerce this Christmas.  

Time to embrace digital equality

We touched upon the need for digital quality in last week’s AOB, with UK charity Scope leading a campaign to make websites more accessible to those with disabilities. This week we turn the focus to the US.

61 million Americans6 are living with some sort of disability and are likely to use e-commerce and engage in digital channels. According to the American Institutes for Research7, the disposable income of working-age adults with disabilities is nearly $500 million. However, this spending power is all null and void if they cannot access your site. So, to unlock this lucrative demographic, brands are getting on board to remove the barriers, with the likes of Tommy Hilfiger creating Tommy Adaptive8 - a clothing range catering to those with disabilities, or AirBnb adding ‘wheelchair access’ into their search terms. But accessibility is more than that; companies need to be bolder, think wider and open their minds to how we are all navigating the ever changing digital world - as that will open up your business to a truly global audience.

Making use of user generated content

Customer reviews might be the new way to uncovering valuable insights for product development rather than research groups. Research and focus groups are costly and a lengthy process, which can lead to a long lead time in new product development9. Artem Timoshenko, an assistant professor of marketing at Kellogg, has said “being on the market with a new razor half a year before your competitor gives you the edge." So, alongside his colleague John Hauser of MIT Sloan, they’ve looked at utilising user generated content like Amazon reviews or social media data to speed product development up.

Through use of AI and algorithms, they can efficiently sift through product reviews, identifying key words and phrases that identify the customer’s needs from the product. For instance, a customer who leaves a bad review for a toothbrush due to it not having a timer, is suggesting the underlying desire to know how long to spend on various parts of their dental routine. Are you making the most of your customer's feedback to develop new product lines?

E-tailored suits

Buying a suit can be tricky. With different fabrics, fits and fashions to follow, it’s always been usual to try before you buy. However, online e-tailers Hockerty and Sumissura have found a way to reassure customers on the perfect fit without a changing room.

The 11-year-old company reaches 250,000 global customers, and credits its success in part due to the three founders' engineering background, which has enabled them to use technology to optimize their offering10. Co-founder Alberto Gil says, “What's important for us is when a customer is designing a suit, he or she needs to see how it is going to fit.” Which they achieve digitally through incorporating 3D models into their bespoke suit design tool so that every step of the way, the customer can see how it will look. This precision not only improves cart retention but reduces returns.

Steve Whittingham
Steve Whittingham Discover content team

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