US online sales booming amid COVID-19

Figure: Teijin's Synesthesia Wear gives users touch feedback in virtual reality without awkward wires. Courtesy: Teijin

Global businesses are moving in the direction of online due to many reasons and the COVID-19 pandemic certainly played a big role in it.

A recent report by Statista showed that retail platforms have experienced a 6% global traffic increase between January and March 2020. Overall, retail websites generated 14.34 billion visits in March 2020, up from 12.81 billion global visits in January 2020.

Figure 1: The upsurge of sales in online platforms shows a certain future getting more customers to online platforms.

Naturally, this seemingly overnight online transform is giving a boom to online platforms. The upsurge of sales in online platforms shows a certain future getting more customers to online platforms not only in the B2C level but also in the B2B level. increasing the sales of such online platforms in manifold over the last few months.

Ecommerce’s share of apparel sales has increased nearly 10 percentage points in the past 3 years, as online apparel sales accounted for 34.0% of total U.S. apparel sales in 2018 and 29.9% in 2017, according to Digital Commerce 360 estimates. And e-commerce captured an even greater share of apparel sales throughout 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For example, the USA based fashion tasc Performance is witnessing a boom in its online sales. Amid COVID-19 peak in the US, casual wear, health-conscious and outdoor goers’ consumer segments are increasing there to stay healthy.

Figure 2: A Statista data showed that retail platforms have experienced a 6% global traffic increase between January and March 2020.

And tasc Performance – which sells its products to wholesalers including Zappos, REI and PGA Golf Tour, launched its own e-commerce site in 2016 – is focusing on athleisure clothing segment to give a unique experience to its consumers. Which is paying off for the brand as online sales tripled. Plus, flaunting its unique naturally made activewear fabric, tasc is remarkable in providing a unique experience for its consumers.

Online sales through e-commerce site have grown significantly for the last couple of years — about 36% year over year to reach a few million in annual sales at the end of 2019.

As the coronavirus pandemic grappled the U.S., sales really started to take off in mid-March: Online sales from the start of 2020 through mid-June were up 113% compared with the same period in 2019.

Categories like activewear is growing at a faster pace than others – posted a 153% increase in sales from the start of 2020 through mid-June compared with the same period in 2019.

The retailer is targeting to double its e-commerce sales in 2020. In the US alone online apparel sales accounted for 38.6% of total apparel sales in 2019 and 100% of the growth in retail clothing sales.

“A casual lifestyle, a focus on health and an appreciation for the outdoors are three U.S. consumer trends that are helping apparel merchant tasc Performance thrive during the coronavirus pandemic,” says Blake Lopez, Vice President-Marketing, tasc Performance.

A primary reason tasc’s apparel products sale is booming due to the brand’s focusing on trends that are resonating with consumers right now, says Lopez.

That focus has aided to avoid the sales declines and bankruptcies many other apparel brands are currently facing, added Lopez.

Transforming the synthetic-based activewear concept

Performance garments are traditionally made from 100% synthetic materials (petrochemicals) and treated with multiple finishes: 1 to wick moisture, 1 for sun protection, and still another to guard against odor. The world is now conditioned to wear plastics in order to be active.

tasc Performance believes that is a compromise that consumers should not have to make. tasc was looking for a better-feeling fabric that was natural and could perform without chemical finishes (a crazy concept, since none existed).

Intrigued by the luxurious feel and encouraged by the performance characteristics existing in the bamboo plant, they set out to find a solution.

tasc’s apparel is mostly made from bamboo, which means its shirts are soft and moisture-wicking. This type of athleisure clothing is popular today with many consumers working from home and seeking more casual clothing that they can wear outside and for exercising. About 50% of its apparel is activewear, and the rest is casual lifestyle clothing.

Relentless fabric innovation

Over the past 12 years, tasc has created 15+ unique fabrics that are original to tasc Performance in varying weights, blends, and textures. In an industry where shopping around for outsourced fabrics is standard, the brand has taken the long-term approach to create more intuitive fabrics, firsthand.

With the introduction of each new fabric, comfort is their top priority, and enhances both the wearing experience and the production process. Each of these fabrics represents years of collaboration, diligent innovation, new technology and most importantly, a sustainable and high-performing alternative to the standard.

“We want people to feel good about their purchase and feel like they are doing good,” Lopez says.

Marketing and growth strategies

Tasc Performance stresses greatly in marketing its sustainable apparel while technical and functional for an active lifestyle. Email, paid social media ads and organic search flock the most traffic to tasc’s site, with traffic from email increasing 158% as of mid-June compared with last year, paid social media up 3,573% year over year, and organic search up 70.8%.  

Besides, tasc also grew its customer base 120% from mid-March through mid-June.

Tasc operates two stores, one near its headquarters in New Orleans, and the other in Houston, Texas. It will open a few more stores in 2021. It views physical stores as key to getting new customers—once shoppers feel the brand’s fabric, “they’re hooked,” Lopez says.

“Retail is getting that hands-on experience and that first-hand account. Bricks-and-mortar is important, as it is really an extension of experiential marketing,” Lopez says.