Gone are the days when people travel into the town centre every time they want to buy some new clothes, shoes or accessories. The lure of shopping from your sofa and next-day delivery has caused online shopping to boom.
With this growth in e-commerce, the way that brands need to display their products has changed. In this blog, we will take a dive into the role of mannequins in online shopping, the pros and cons of them and whether e-commerce brands should use mannequins, models, or a mixture of both.
The changing landscape of retail
As with most areas of life, the digital takeover is continuing to change the retail landscape and the experience of shoppers. Studies have found that, so far in 2023, there are 2.64 billion online shoppers worldwide, making up 33.3% of the population. This shift to digital has meant that fashion retailers don’t just need to create beautiful in-store displays, but their visual merchandising needs to expand to an e-commerce store. Of course, photography has been vital in this shift, but companies have had to rethink their visual merchandising strategy. How do they display the pieces? Do certain products work better with mannequins than models? Is there a case to use both?
Mannequins vs models: which one wins?
When deciding how to showcase their products online, many companies have two options: a mannequin, or a model. Both have their pros and cons, so which one is right for you?
The pros of using mannequins in e-commerce
There are a number of reasons why you might want to use mannequins in e-commerce. These could include:
- Customers are able to imagine how a piece of clothing or accessory will look on the body and can help when comparing products against each other.
- When using models, you have to have a minimum of 40 products per photoshoot as they are paid to work per day. However, with mannequins, there are no minimum amount of products, you can have as little as one.
- Mannequins provide better conditions for taking a large amount of photos. They don’t require any makeup, they’re quick to style and light
- There’s no threat of models being unavailable or not matching the style of the shoot.
- With certain products, it may be important to put a focus on the characteristics of the products, without the distraction of the model or other pieces of clothing.
The cons of using mannequins in e-commerce
Just as there are benefits of using mannequins, there are also downfalls, such as:
- Mannequins sometimes don’t show the full product potential, whereas a model can show each angle and every side of a product, and can even showcase how the product moves with videos.
- Historically, mannequins only came in one shape and size, and lacked diversity. While this has improved over the best few years, a mannequin will never show as much diversity or personality as a real person.
The pros of using a model in e-commerce
For some brands or particular pieces, a model is better to showcase the products in an e-commerce setting. The pros of using models include:
- The ability to showcase products in their absolute best light and catch the eye of consumers, thanks to a variety of poses.
- The capability of models to provide a tangible view of how clothes drape and look on the human form, which allows customers to imagine the clothing in real-life context.
- The level of professionalism you’re showing when you have high-quality images of models, which adds a touch of luxury to a brand.
- Models help to cross-sell complementary items.
- Models can effortlessly sync with your brand’s unique DNA, serving as visual ambassadors that resonate with your brand’s character and values.
- They capture more attention and gain increased likes and better engagement on social media platforms.
- The type and look of the models can help associate a brand with a specific lifestyle or style
The cons of using a model in e-commerce
We’ve discussed the pros of using models, but what about the cons, such as:
- The team effort that is required when working with models, involving stylists, makeup artists, and set directors, which all add to the intricacy and cost of the process.
- The substantial number of products required to be captured to make model photoshoots cost-effective, due to the significant investment associated with photoshoots.
- Models can sometimes shift the focus away from the product itself. The wrong choice of model might inadvertently convey the wrong message and discourage potential buyers.
The magic of balance
Can’t decide between models or mannequins? Use both! Blending these two types of visuals can achieve great results and present your customers with a diverse range of options. Experimenting with both approaches will also help you discover which one resonates best with your audience.
Using ghost mannequins in e-commerce
We’ve discussed the pros and cons of using mannequins in your online store, but what about the different types of mannequins? Of course, you can utilise traditional mannequins, but another form that has taken the e-commerce world by storm is the ghost mannequin!
Ghost mannequins give the garments a 3D shape, but cannot actually be seen under the clothing. This allows customers to see the fit and cut of the clothing, without the distraction of the visible mannequin. Because of this, the focus shifts entirely to the clothing’s fabric and details.
At Proportion London, we create bespoke paper mache busts and cut them in a way so that once the clothes are on the mannequin, it is completely hidden. These are particularly popular with our online retail clients, as they allow the fabric to be the main showpiece.
Another mannequin solution that seems to be bursting its way onto the e-commerce scene is the virtual mannequin. Virtual mannequins are digital representations or simulations of mannequins that are used to display clothing, accessories, and other products on e-commerce websites. They offer a dynamic and interactive way to showcase products, enhancing the online shopping experience for customers.
Virtual mannequins can take different forms, including 3D models, augmented reality (AR) overlays, or even animated representations. They are dressed in the products being sold, and placed in various poses to showcase the items from different angles and perspectives. This allows online shoppers to see how the clothing fits and drapes on a body, giving them a better sense of the product’s appearance and fit.
Brands can customise virtual mannequins to align with their target audience’s preferences, body types and styles, enabling a more inclusive and personalised shopping experience. These simulations can be placed in different scenarios or settings so that consumers can see how the products can be worn in real-life situations.
How Proportion London can help
At Proportion London, we have a wide selection of different mannequins available to purchase or hire. These range from full mannequins, to mannequin parts (hands, arms, etc.) to ghost mannequins, and everything in between.
We are also widely experienced in the realm of visual merchandising, so if you require some help with the styling of your mannequins, we have the expertise to improve your digital displays.
Browse our different collections or get in contact with us today to discuss your specific requirements.