With a mobile, Gen Z shopper, the checkout page has to be fast, says Jacob Hawkins, chief marketing officer, digital at apparel retail chain Forever 21.
“We have a Gen Z customer and she wants it, and she wants it now,” Hawkins says. “She is very tech savvy. She wants to check out quickly, and Bolt just lines up with that.”
Bolt refers to Forever 21’s checkout page provider Bolt Financial Inc. The merchant launched the technology in 2019 but has had a turbulent relationship with it. Authentic Brands Group, which owns Forever 21, sued Bolt in March 2022, alleging that Bolt failed to provide its promised technology. In July 2022, the case was settled, and Authentic Brands Group was awarded an undisclosed stake in Bolt.
In a February 2023 phone interview with both Forever 21 and Bolt, Hawkins says, “We have a good partnership right now. And that’s all in the past.” The Bolt spokesperson says, “They are only looking forward.”
In fact, the companies are now touting Forever 21’s positive results from using Bolt: A shopper who checks out with Bolt can complete checkout in 100 seconds, which is 43 seconds faster than the guest checkout on Forever21.com. And that’s “an eternity,” Hawkins says.
“No one wants to go a store and stand in line to check out. And on a website, no one wants to wait a long time,” Hawkins says.
And shoppers leave if it takes too long:
- The cart abandonment rate is 37% for shoppers who used Bolt to check out in 2022, compared with 60% for shoppers who use the guest checkout.
- Put another way: 63% of shoppers who start the checkout process using Bolt finish and make the purchase, compared with just 40% of shoppers who make it to completion using guest checkout.
“The longer time it takes, the fewer people make it through,” Hawkins says.
Digital Commerce 360 data also finds younger shoppers are more likely to abandon their carts compared with other online shoppers. 13% of shoppers ages 18-29 say they’ve abandoned their shopping cart specifically because the process was too long compared with 9% of all online shoppers in the survey, according to a Digital Commerce 360/Bizrate Insights survey of 1,060 online shoppers in January 2023.
Bolt is faster because there are fewer fields to fill out. When a shopper goes to check out on Forever21.com, she enters her email and phone number into the checkout page fields. If she is a previous Bolt shopper, the site recognizes her and sends her a one time pass code via SMS. The shopper enters this code on Forever21.com, her billing and shipping information is populated and she can hit purchase.
For all other shoppers, there are about five steps, including entering billing and shipping information and hitting confirm.
Bolt has “hundreds of online retail” clients that use its checkout service, and so if any shopper has previously checked out on one of those websites, she can check out with Bolt on Forever21.com. The payments vendor says more than 18 million unique shoppers have used its service, but it would not disclose how many active shoppers it has. Many of those accounts were created from shoppers checking out on a site that uses Bolt, and clicking a box to have their payment details saved for future purchases.
Forever 21’s mobile shoppers
This fast checkout page is especially nice for mobile shoppers, Hawkins says. Mobile sales are the “vast majority” of its online sales, he says without sharing more. Hawkins declined to share what percent of Forever 21’s sales are online, only that it’s a “healthy percent,” growing, and that it is poised to grow more within the next one to two years.
Digital Commerce 360 estimates that roughly 27% of Forever 21’s sales are online, and 75% of its web sales are mobile, according to Top500Guide.com. This mobile penetration is much higher than the median for all retailers ranked in Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000, among which 58.0% of web sales are from mobile devices.
What’s more, Digital Commerce 360 estimates 41.9% of Forever 21’s online shoppers are ages 18-24, a higher share than the Top 1000, with a 15.5% median of shoppers ages 18-24, according to Top500Guide.com.
Other benefits to using Bolt are that it handles fraud prevention, and the technology has helped it acquire new customers, Hawkins says without sharing specifics.
Forever 21 in the metaverse
Besides a fast checkout, another way Forever 21 has catered to its Gen Z shoppers is by putting its brand in the metaverse.
Forever 21 has launched apparel collections within online gaming platform Roblox, where consumers can purchase Forever 21 apparel for their avatar.
For example, in June 2022, Forever 21 launched a collection with Mattel Inc.’s Barbie brand. Shoppers could buy Barbie-branded apparel for themselves online and in store, and buy 3D versions of that apparel for their avatars in the metaverse in the “Forever 21 Shop City” on Roblox.
It’s important for Forever 21 to market and engage its Gen Z audience in the areas where they spend they spend time, wherever that may be, Hawkins says.
“One of the areas they are spending their time is in the metaverse, and we want to be there and be connecting them, and having those authentic connections that are meaningful,” he says. “It’s a nice area of opportunity.”
Because of good traction on its metaverse products, Forever 21 designed a black beanie that said “Forever 21” on it specifically for the metaverse. The product “exploded” and it sold more than 1 million units digitally, Hawkins says. Because of its success, Forever 21 started selling the beanie physically in store and online in December 2022 and was happy with the results, he says.
“We’re really excited about what we are doing in the metaverse,” Hawkins says. The merchant is laying out a plan for 2023 of other metaverse initiatives, he says.
Forever 21 is No. 121 in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000.
Stay on top of the latest developments in the ecommerce industry. Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 Retail News.
Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Be the first to know when Digital Commerce 360 publishes news content.