Sex Differences Watch: Online Shopping Habits

July 25, 2013 | Karin

Can you imagine your guy friends shopping online for clothes daily?  One women’s clothing shop has been analyzing male online shopping habits as they launch another brand and realized that men shop differently.

The male clothes shopper, long an enigma, is increasingly being spotted online, and the folks at ShopBop are ready for the chase.

The women’s-clothing site, owned by Amazon, has been observing the way guys shop online. As a result, its new men’s site, East Dane, which is to debut in September, will look and function very differently from ShopBop. For instance, it will show models mostly from the neck down, present bigger product photos, and include in every order a strip of packing tape to ease a potential return.

What are some of the differences?

But even fashion-savvy men, it turns out, are very different from their female counterparts. One-third of ShopBop’s female customers browse on the site daily. “Daily!” says Jeff Yurcisin, ShopBop’s president. “The average male just isn’t wired that way.” As a result, East Dane will change its home-page photos weekly, as opposed to ShopBop’s daily change.

East Dane will share its sister site’s DNA, carrying fashionable labels at premium—though not luxury—prices. But executives have worked hard to set up a masculine tone and look. The name is a riff on Dane County, where the Madison, Wis., company is based (it maintains a co-headquarters in New York City) and its East Washington Avenue address. “We loved the regal, masculine quality” of the name, says Darcy Penick, the company’s chief merchandising officer.

Style guidance is integral to success for men’s sites. While women enjoy the thrill of the hunt, they don’t mind coming home empty-handed after browsing, whereas “for a man to walk into a retail environment and walk out with nothing—that would be viewed as a failure,” says David Bell, a Wharton School marketing professor who researches consumer behavior.

East Dane will offer advice on how to assemble an office-ready look. It will also have a place where men can store information on brands they want to return to in the future. Men, Mr. Yurcisin says, are more likely to rely on the advice of an expert, rather than a friend, and tend to buy brands they’ve bought in the past.

This is a good example of sex differences.  We should appreciate those differences, rather than try to get men to shop the way we do.

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