Fashion Industry: The Must-Haves for a Successful Online Operation

VTEX October 5, 2018
Fashion Industry: The Must-Haves for a Successful Online Operation

If you are the head of sales for a Brand or a commerce operation in the Fashion Industry here is a list of Must-Haves that you need to make sure your online store features just to meet the most basic expectations that customers most certainly will have when they visit it and, thus, facilitate their path to conversion.

1. Make it Easy to Shop (UX)

Defining the categories tree, as well as, all products attributes is a crucial step that should be planned with extreme care. Splitting the catalog according to products main attributes, such as type, gender, age, size, color, price range, etc., allows clusterization by similarity and promotes a more targeted navigation.

Additional clusterings such as New Releases, Best Offers, Best Evaluations, Best Sellers, Collections, Themes, Season, Occasion, Patterns, Materials, Technology, among many others, promote alternative ways of segmentation even more targeted.

Well planned and segmented menus, allied to an advanced internal search engine that allows the refinement of the searched term through facets and filters, improves the assertiveness in finding the desired product, reducing the time and the navigation’s stages, which usually translates into an increase in the conversion rate.

The departmentalization of the Home Page also contributes to this favorable scenario. Besides the obvious benefit of improving usability and the consequent increase in conversion, it also promotes a broader vision on the catalog’s extension, especially for stores with very large catalogs.

An interesting example that makes good use of the techniques of products segmentation and Home Page’s departmentalization as listed above is the online store of C&A in Brazil.

2. Deliver a Flawless Product Page (Content)

A well-over product page built following the best SEO practices, fast-loading with an easy and fluid navigation, with high-quality detailed photographs, clear and accurate information about price, availability, discounts and logistics, with a floating and always visible call-to-action, with well written and well formatted descriptions and technical information, highlighting the main characteristics of the product, is just a requisite.

And when it comes to fashion, images are worth more than a thousand words, indeed! Videos and photographs from different angles of the product, close-ups on details, patterns, the warp and weft of the fabric, with a combination of styles between still and composed pictures featuring models, set with aspiring approaches, can significantly reduce the lack of the tangible product or even the face-to-face assistance of a shop clerk.

A good example of a well-built product page can be seen at The North Face US online shop. It features assorted images with very good definition especially when the full-screen zooming is triggered. It also displays clear information about products’ differentials and benefits, as well as detailed technical descriptions highlighting products’ main characteristics, among others.

When working with hi-def quality pictures it is essential to use a CDN to avoid longer product pages’ loading times.

3. Explore the Cross and the Up-Selling (R&B)

When it comes to online sales, there are two main roads that lead a store to increased sales and revenues. The long winding road that will require more time, attention, effort and probably more investment is that of increasing the conversion rate given the endless variables present along the way. The other, shorter and less tortuous road is that of increasing the average ticket, which can usually be obtained through sales techniques such as cross-selling and up-selling.

Selling a complete look, an accessory product, suggesting a higher value-added product, as well as “buy more for less” deals, progressive discounts, and so on, are already widely used ways to boost the growth of an online store average ticket. At Amazon, about 35% of the company’s revenue comes from product recommendation features such as “often bought together” and “customers who bought this item also bought”.

4. Make a Wish (Product Lists)

Wishlists and “let me know when it’s available” feature are undoubtedly Must-Haves in an online fashion store. Imagine that product that you’ve been looking for a long time and you finally came across, but unfortunately, your number is currently out of stock with no estimated date for restocking. Let’s say that, for this exercise’s purpose, it’s a product sold exclusively by this retailer.

Having the possibility to save the product in a list in order to be able to buy it in the future, or even save it for future reference, not only it’s a convenience for the consumer, but also, it’s a very simple trick to make this customer return to your store, most likely with a higher probability of buying this or any other product.

Match to this functionality an automated email or SMS message triggering tool informing the customer that the product he/she was interested in is available again, or yet informing the customer that the product is with a new discount. Bingo!

Event lists can also be a good choice. Birthday lists, for example, can generate that buzz in the social media and become a great ally in generating new leads.

5. Promote the Social Selling (Social Media)

Being actively present in social media is simply mandatory, both for the dissemination and sale of products and services as well as for branding. Social media are also notoriously important channels for customer service and for direct communication with consumers.

But the main point here we reckon interesting to stress is that of bringing into the store and to the products pages, feeds with photographs, testimonials, and reviews from customers who bought that specific product.

This interaction, obviously when done with attention and dedication, can generate countless benefits in the medium-long term, either by increasing the store’s credibility, or directly boosting products sales, either by promoting brand awareness

The Nike online store created a session called “How Others Are Wearing It”, where it encourages its consumers to post photos on Instagram by mentioning Nike so they can get a chance to have their looks included in the brand’s products pages.

This “exchange currency”, which can be as simple as the display of the customer’s publication on a product page, as in this Nike example, or any other kind of rewards, such as points in the brand’s loyalty program, discount coupons, gifts, etc., are quite popular methods for encouraging customers and followers to engage with the brand.

6. Maximize Assertiveness (Add to Cart)

In a non-face-to-face sale, especially of clothes, footwear and accessories, where the consumer does not have the possibility to try on the product, evaluate its finishings, details, and materials, the online store must provide tools that help the customer during the purchase process, increasing the assertiveness, especially considering the sizing selection, and consequently reducing the number of exchanges and returns.

Tools such as “find your fit” or “save your measures” are highly recommended to suggest a size more suited to the biotype of a particular consumer, especially for those having a first contact with the brand through its online store, not knowing beforehand the “fitting” standard of its products.

A creative, and interesting idea, with absolute application in the fashion segment, would be thru creating a process of sizes and biotypes classification using celebrities as references.

Recommended complementary reading: How Fashion e-Commerce Companies are Changing the Definition of Size Online

7. Frictionless Checkout Process (Checkout)

The checkout process should be as simple as possible. Once the customer has initiated this process, all he wants (and obviously the merchant too) is to complete the order with no complications.

Avoid polluting the checkout with irrelevant information, institutional links and last-minute product suggestions can reduce the likelihood of abandonment by eliminating possible points of escape in the order completion process.

To opt for nimble solutions, preferably ones that do not require passwords or have a fast and simple authentication process, capable of memorizing delivery and payment information to ensure a simple purchase process and an even faster and uncomplicated repurchasing, with excellent usability, especially on mobile devices, is the only way to go.

Nonetheless, unfinished orders will, unfortunately, continue to happen. So, make sure you have tools that automate the process of recovering abandoned carts and unfinished orders!

8. Think Global, Act Local (R&B and Logistics)

Working with logistics and promotions options based on Geolocation is already a reality. A practical example is having an express delivery method using motorcycles, bicycles, Segways, or any other agile mean of transportation to the primary zone covered by a particular store or distribution center using polygons generated via the Google Maps API, for example.

These polygons allow a multitude of quick settings to meet the demands of logistics, including delivery to another store, to pick-up points, to lockers, or even use it to find a brick & mortar store near a specific ZIP code or the user’s current location, etc. Polygons can also be used to generate free shipping promotions, cashback coupons, and many others benefits.

Above, an animated gif to illustrate the creation of a polygon that will be used by the e-commerce platform to determine a VIP area in Rome that will benefit from a same-day express delivery option.

9. Hassle-Free Cancellation & Returns (Customer Service)

Having a clear and simple cancellation, exchanges and returns policy is mandatory. Providing the possibility of self-service thru the customer area at the front-end, for the correction or changing the delivery address, for modifying any other registration data, for requesting the cancellation of an order not yet invoiced, or yet requesting the exchange or the return of an item without having the need of going through a time consuming process that requires an interaction with a customer service center assistant, is not only more convenient to shoppers, but it also generates a reduction in the customer service operational costs. In addition, satisfied customers tend to come back, increasing the odds of generating a growth in the organic repurchase rate.

10. Promote Long-Term Relationships (Loyalty & Organic Recurrence)

This article started back there in item #1 talking about facilitating the buying process. Now we’ve come to item #10 that closes the cycle talking about the process of bringing the customer back to the store and exploring ways to make him/her more engaged with the brand so that he/she will continue to buy its products for a long time.

Obviously, there are several factors that influence the overall consumer satisfaction during his/her journey, beginning with the steps of the purchasing process itself, passing thru having his/her expectations met from a logistics point of view, including deliveries on time and affordable shipping costs, and finally closing with an easy process for the resolution of eventual setbacks, such as exchanges, returns, and cancellations.

In addition, it is important having a communication channel with the client always active to keep the relationship’s flame alive in the long run and to attract him/her to keep coming back to the store and thus continue consuming its products and/or services.

Using only the traditional retail’s commemorative dates is not enough. The contact with the customer must become closer and he/she needs to feel important to your brand.

Knowing his/her characteristics and preferences more deeply becomes a key point in this process and then, all that needs to be done is segmenting the base according to each consumer’s purchases profile and using the creativity to keep him/her always engaged.

VIP access to exclusive campaigns and promotions, extra points in loyalty/rewards programs on specific dates and occasions, invitations to events promoted by the brand, sending cashback coupons, free gifts or products samples are just a few of the numerous possibilities to keep the flame always burning.