Too much choice can be a bad thing, according to young clothing shoppers. A consumer survey by GlobalData shows that while 47.3% of clothing shoppers find the level of choice available at retailers to be overwhelming, it is younger shoppers who the feel the most overwhelmed.

While physical limitations curb instore choice, the survey findings bring into question just how necessary an extensive online offer is. Indeed, the results are surprising given the fact that younger consumers are considered the most willing to and adept at trawling the internet for clothing purchases.

Online pureplay ASOS heralds its offer of c.87,000 products, with between 4,000 and 5,000 new styles available each week. However, such variety – for example there are 9,900 dress styles currently available on its UK site – is likely to prove a turn-off for many, especially those in its core customer demographic. While cutting back on newness would be ill advised, as regular product drops encourage repeat visits and wants-driven purchases, a streamlined product range is paramount to avoiding product repetition and shopper browsing fatigue.

Retailers need to help shoppers find what they are looking for, ensuring that ongoing investment in search functionality is vital. The inclusion of topical words or phrases such as ‘dresses with pockets’ or ‘athleisure’ as well as celebrity names, and even social media handles would aid the browsing process. Filtering is equally as important, slimming down the SKU count to a more manageable level, with retailers needing to enable visitors to shop by occasion, or by trend, alongside more traditional filters such as colour, size and price.

Younger shoppers’ uneasiness over broad choice emphasises the potential of social media shopping, especially via Instagram, among this demographic. The site plays into shopper demand for more curated content and shields them from the extensive browsing process via retailers’ websites. It also enables retailers to drip feed newness to shoppers in a way that avoids overwhelming them, and retains a sense of discovery.

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