Reviewing online functionality for a selection of key European online only retailers, I am struck by a shift. With the basics of purchasing and navigation nailed down, the devil is now in the detail of implementing online functionality for apparel retailers – particularly those that are online only. Now we are seeing both subtle and overt efforts to improve merchandising and remote clienteling online proactive live chat, 2D size guides, personal shopping style guides and ‘compete the outfit’ suggestions on product pages.

To get to the next level of best practice and differentiation online apparel retailers need to keep refining their website functionality in order to succeed in a competitive and increasingly crowded category. Empowered customers are using multiple devices to shop online helping to drive forecasted online retail sales growth of 12% in Europe (2013 to 2018). To secure their chunk of this growth, online apparel retailers need to constantly evaluate, test and implement new and improved functionality to support merchandising and drive consumers through the path to purchase.

To assess whether European online-only apparel retailers have the features and functionality to compete, Forrester conducted a Website Functionality Benchmark to evaluate selected sites:,,,,, and

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • No European Online Apparel Retailers Passed, Despite Strength In Core Categories. None of the reviewed sites reached a total passing score of 58 or better. However, all the sites scored well on core purchasing and navigation functionality — the latter including passing scores from and
  • Innovative Features Support Consumer Decision-Making. Innovative features, such as curated shopping and style guides, help erode category-specific barriers to purchasing apparel online. Yet all sites had weaker scores when it came to community, customer support, and merchandising sections. eBusiness execs should focus on more detailed merchandising capabilities to compete in an already crowded market.

 See “Website Functionality Benchmark 2014: European Online Apparel Retailers” report for an overview of these websites' strengths and areas for improvement across 58 criteria as well as recommends how European online apparel retailers can go further to differentiate.