Oct 5, 2022
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Cash-strapped shoppers target price over sustainability, but want retailers to offer both

Oct 5, 2022

Looking for cost savings or saving the planet. In normal times that might not be a difficult choice. But in today’s harsh economic climate it increasingly becomes something of a dilemma, especially when it comes to buying fashion, according to a new survey.

Photo: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

According to findings from the survey (by commerce experience platform Nosto) of over 2,000 UK and US consumers, 61% in the both countries currently prioritise price over sustainability when shopping for fashion. But 57% also want fashion to be more sustainable -- and they say they’re willing to change their online shopping behaviour to go green in ways that won’t hit their pockets.

Even though times are hard, 39% of respondents say they would consider paying more for sustainably-made versions of the same clothes. However, a lack of transparency surrounding sustainable fashion and mistrust about what brands say about it remain major stumbling blocks.

Some 55% say working out what fashion items are sustainably made is confusing, while 57% of women and 50% of men say when they shop online, they don’t know how to identify if an item of clothing is sustainable or not. 

Also, 54% don’t completely trust the claims some brands make about their commitment to sustainability anyway. 

Unsurprisingly, 64% of consumers polled said one way that retailers can make online fashion shopping more sustainable is simply to provide clearer information so it’s easier to find products that are made in sustainable/environmentally friendly ways. Some 57% agreed it would help if retailers could allow shoppers to personalise their online shopping experiences so that they are only shown sustainable/environmentally friendly fashion.

Nosto said its findings led the company to suggest three ways online fashion retailers can help consumers go green in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis.

Firstly, retailers must offer slower, greener deliveries. Some 54% of consumers in the survey say they’re now happy to have slower deliveries for fashion purchases if it allows companies to cut the number of truck/van journeys, thus reducing carbon emissions, while also cutting retailers’ delivery costs. 

Secondly, retailers must provide repair services. Some 42% of consumers admit they’ve thrown away fashion items they would have liked to keep because they could not get them repaired. And 60% now agree that fashion e-commerce brands could be more sustainable by offering repair services (retailers such as Uniqlo and Selfridges  are already stepping up fashion repair services, it notes).

Third, make it easier to reduce e-commerce product returns. Rather than charging for returning products, consumers in the survey believe e-commerce companies could help reduce returns by making it easy for shoppers to ask questions and query items online, such as through live chats (64%); user-generated content (UGC) images and videos of other customers wearing their purchases to show what they look like on real people (61%); and virtual try-on tools to help shoppers visualise how they would look in outfits (59%)

Guy Little, Head of Brand Marketing at Nosto, said: “Encouraging slower deliveries and reducing product returns are both opportunities to be more environmentally-friendly without requiring customers to spend more. One of the key challenges for retailers, especially as we head into the peak shopping period, is the impact of returns — both financially and environmentally. 

“What we can see from this data is that there are tactics available, such as using post-purchase user-generated images, that retailers can embrace to help reduce return rates and alleviate that pressure. Elsewhere, more than half of shoppers struggle to even identify sustainable products -- personalisation can help retailers ensure that environmentally-conscious shoppers are seeing the most sustainable items every time they shop online.”

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