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Paid membership is most in-demand feature for US apparel shoppers

In our 2022 US Apparel Retail Features Benchmark report, we break down the online and in-store features apparel shoppers value the most, and how 10 leading retailers compare on those fronts.

Paid membership took the number one spot, in part because of high customer demand for free shipping and returns. Overall, four of the top 10 most in-demand features fell under the paid membership category.

Free return shipping, free shipping, free expedited shipping, and rewards/loyalty points were the four most valued features in the study. The other features in this category—member-only access to product releases, sales, and events—were not as important to most apparel buyers.

Our survey presented these features as part of paid membership programs. But we assigned points to retailers that offered these features outside of paid memberships as well, either through free loyalty programs (as Nike did) or to the general public (as with Nordstrom). Features linked to usage of retailer credit cards were excluded.

Key Findings:

  • Free shipping with no minimum (and two-day or faster shipping, if possible) should be the centerpiece of any paid membership strategy and is necessary to stay competitive.
  • Free return shipping is equally important for apparel consumers. Fit and sizing are top concerns among online apparel shoppers, who will hesitate to make purchases they can’t send back for free.
  • Rewards/loyalty points were the most valued feature in this category that was not related to shipping or returns. Retailers can drive repeat purchases from apparel consumers by including rewards as part of a paid or free program.

Read the full report.