Men have been the "ignored" demographic of the online shopping boom but research indicating blokes are embracing e-commerce more vigorously than women has seen an explosion in Australian men's shopping sites.
Details By Sven curates a revolving top 100 of Australian designed gifts and accessories for men. InStitchu and Vinspi offer tailored suits and shirts for a fraction you'd pay off-the-rack. Minor Detail specialises in men's fashion and lifestyle accessories, while Svbscription sends themed parcels of "curated products and experiences to your door".
Between 2007 and 2011 the average male increased his online spend from $180 a month to $242. In the same period women's online spending dropped from $179 a month to $165.
"I do feel men have been somewhat ignored in e-commerce in the past," said Details By Sven founder Luke Ryan, who was inspired by US sites like manpacks.com and owenandfred.com.
"We feel that with the growth of e-commerce and mobile commerce, and the fact that blokes generally dislike the concept [of] in-store shopping, that we can solve a problem."
Australian men spend a third more each month on online purchases than women, according to a study released in September last year by Swinburne University of Technology's ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation.
The research, conducted by Swinburne research fellow Scott Ewing, shows that between 2007 and 2011 the average male increased his online spend from $180 a month to $242. In the same period women's online spending dropped from $179 a month to $165.
Ewing said in a phone interview that men were more comfortable buying more expensive items like gadgets online and they were more price sensitive. But he said there had also been a "flight to quality" online as men had become more concerned about fashion.
"Men are more and more buying that kind of clothing whereas women of course they've always done that," said Ewing.
"We did our first survey in 2007 and then another one in 2009 and another one in 2011 and what we found that was kind of weird or interesting is at the start men and women's shopping patterns looked much the same and men actually grew more than women over the period. "
By 2009 men were spending 17 per cent more than women on internet purchases and this grew to 46 per cent in 2011.
He said that without wanting to get bogged down in gender stereotypes women tended to value the "social experience of shopping that will probably never go away" and women may prefer to feel the product before buying. Men on a Saturday afternoon "are more likely to say 'let's go to the football'.'"
Research released by digital marketing firm iProspect claims 70 per cent of "affluent" men prefer to research and buy online.
Sydney-based InStitchu founders James Wakefield and Robin McGowan, who went to school together and pursued finance careers before joining the start-up fray, said the huge savings one could make by flying to Asia and ordering a tailored suit created an obvious opportunity for an online store.
InStitchu sells fully customisable suits for between $299 and $599 and shirts for $59. The customer enters their measurements online and the clothes are produced in Shanghai before arriving at the customer's door about 3 weeks later. Wakefield and McGowan claim some pricey well-known "made in Italy" brands are actually made in the same factory as their gear.
"When we were trying to find the supplier we had a wardrobe full of about 30 suits from suppliers in Thailand, Vietnam, India, Philippines, China - we started working with one based out of Thailand but the consistency wasn't there," said Wakefield.
If you know your current measurements buying a suit online is easy but not so much if you don't. InStitchu is moving around this by opening "pop up" stores in cafes after operating hours, doing group bookings in offices, inviting customers to its own office in Sydney's CBD and placing video instructions on its site showing people how to measure themselves.
"Three years ago the chance of a guy willing to go on to a website, design his own shirt and enter his measurements and order online - I think that would've been a paretty hard sells, but now guys are more accustomed," said Wakefield.
McGowan adds: "We're targeting guys who hate going to the shops, who hate dealing with sales clerks; they can literally just do it in the office and it takes them 10 minutes or 15 minutes and they know exactly what they're going to get, plus it's convenience as the package gets delivered to your office."
They've sold about 1300 suits so far but are looking to raise capital now in order to do more marketing, tap new markets like the wedding market and also open up small stores where customers can get measured. They also want to expand beyond suits into other clothing and accessories.
"My prediction is that a lot of the big online players will take over the retail space - Amazon have started doing it in the States, not as a shop but as a showroom of their products," said McGowan. "I think that's probably where it will go."
This is already starting to happen in Australia, with online custom shoes store for women Shoes of Prey revealing plans recently to open two retail premises.