Choosing a fashion ecommerce platform: What must it offer?
Fashion was one of the first industries to embrace ecommerce, which means that the newcomers to this space have to go head-to-head with some of the better-established online shops in any industry.
It also means that some of the online retailers from the old guard started building their presence in a different time from now, and might benefit from exploring the market and seeing what new providers have to offer.
If you’re worried about your competition, or even just about being the best you can be for your clients, here are some capabilities and functionalities that your ecommerce platform should fully support.
A robust foundation
For fashion and apparel brands, a robust foundation doesn’t only depend on uptime, but also on the capability of a platform to have stock control, several payment methods and easy integrations of optional services in order to improve a client’s buying journey.
“Fashion is about investing in the best software, from great photos for the product pages to SEO that helps customers find what they’re looking for. It’s important that the platform you use is planned in order to get the most transactions possible and make life easier for the buyer.”Ricardo Rodríguez, VP of Enterprise Sales at VTEX Mexico
Another important element for platforms are anti-fraud capabilities. VTEX, for example, has integrated capabilities to detect and prevent fraud, the level of which is high for the fashion industry. These tools also prevent the purchase of mispriced items and pre-qualify orders.
“Many companies still have employees whose responsibility is to qualify orders and decide if something is fraudulent. This process is not scalable in ecommerce, and you need an automatic solution that takes 2 hours to validate, not 6 to 24 hours. This also improves your customers’ experience.”Ricardo Rodríguez, VP of Enterprise Sales at VTEX Mexico
Fashion changes constantly, and the real-time ecommerce operations that surround it should follow suit. In other words, fashion ecommerce websites should modify or update their layout with the same cadence in which brick-and-mortar stores do. In order to do this, the platform upon which the website is based needs to be as flexible as possible.
“In physical stores there are complex relationships between display of garments and rules of relevance in order to boost certain products. Online, there should be different criteria that you should be able to configure to decide what items are a priority for any given week or even day. This is a capability that not every ecommerce provider can offer.”Ricardo Rodríguez, VP of Enterprise Sales at VTEX Mexico
These rules can help ecommerce sites give more visibility to seasonal products, new releases, promotion campaigns, relevant IP properties and any other category that could drive up the number of sales or the value of the average ticket.
Also, not every platform can give you access to capabilities such as dropshipping or ship-from-store, which could hinder the experience of customers and even be a deciding factor in a purchase.
Actionable data intelligence
Brick-and-mortar fashion stores have traditionally thrived in studying the behavior of customers. The garment that drives buyers in is rarely the bestseller, so stores have to be careful about what they put on display in the window and what they reserve for the inside of the store. Ecommerce works in a similar fashion (pun intended).
In fashion, every product has several characteristics relevant to the client, such as color, size, cut and type of fabric. Because of that, the amount of data an online store can acquire is big, and the conclusions it can take from it are many.
“In fashion, data intelligence is exceptionally important. In ecommerce you can still understand why a customer approached the store, what their journey was and what they ended up buying. The company can then understand what it’s selling, how it’s attracting customers and how it can improve.”Ricardo Rodríguez, VP of Enterprise Sales at VTEX Mexico
This information can then be implemented, through prioritization, in such a way that it makes a customer’s journey easier, or even attracts new customers based on the way the target audience usually interacts with the website. Then there’s also an additional layer based on device behavior — perhaps product pages appeal better to online shoppers on mobile devices, so your fashion ecommerce business can focus on improving PWAs.
An omnichannel framework
The fashion industry faces a great deal of challenges in the digital world, and the growing presence of marketplaces inside the minds of fashion-savvy customers means that buyers have more alternatives than ever to purchase that statement piece they’ve been eyeing.
This fierce competition should be an eye-opener for retailers, who can no longer settle for a platform that offers “just enough” of what they need in an ecommerce operation. Today, a buyer looks for stores that are closer to “the very best” than to “the bare minimum”, and that should be the retailers’ mindset too. Nowadays, that means being present on numerous sales channels whilst offering an omnichannel experience — and for that, you need a fully-integrated OMS.
Of course, this is not a definitive list of the characteristics that different ecommerce platforms can offer to online fashion retailers. We’ve already talked about what’s in store for the near future, and we are certain that the fashion industry will keep pushing ecommerce forward, for the benefit of all its consumers.