Last year, multiple lockdowns and store closures forced fashion retailers to go online. This digital transformation is the key to navigating today’s rocky runway. We have seen new shops, small shops and global fashion brands create or add a stronger online presence to adapt to the changes the pandemic created.
Another residual challenge that arose due to circumstances, was a new consumer mindset. While consumers have the option to refresh their wardrobes online, conditions like increased unemployment and lower incomes shifted consumers from impulse buying to planned purchases. Shoppers began reprioritizing what was essential and what was not compared to 2019. Last year was a blessing in disguise — and the necessary wake-up call for retailers to make an online transition.
Online is Now a ‘Need to Have’
The numbers don’t lie. According to Digital Commerce 360, “consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. retailers in 2020, up 44.0% from $598.02 billion in 2019.”
Considering this, the online fashion shopping experience needs to be close to if not better than its offline counterpart. Walking through a shop, feeling the clothes, trying them on and having that personal service is hard to replace. However, the reality is that being online is a key opportunity to seek out new and loyal customers; to connect and form relationships with them quickly.
Tips to Optimize Your Online Shop’s Presence
Being online is more than setting up a website. It means understanding how and where to advertise. There are a lot of opportunities for web shop owners to be visible where their customers are online and align interests through a quick and easy buying experience. Here are a few tips to implement today to increase your web shop traffic, expand your customer base and break through the competitive noise.
1. Make your website your display window
- Your homepage opens the door: Fashion is all about aesthetics! Your homepage needs to be visually appealing, easy to search and convenient for shoppers to find what they want and buy quickly. Categorizing items and showcasing them in the most appealing manner works. For example, item images. Providing multiple views of each product, with or without a person wearing them, close-ups of the fabric, and even short (runway) videos of models wearing items from different angles are ideal. Make it easier for shoppers to picture themselves wearing your items!
- Enable shopping 24/7 with website responsiveness from any device: Your website needs to be responsive as consumers jump from their smartphones to tablets to desktops and back again. Doing so ensures a consistent look and feel across devices. Responsiveness and branding are key to increasing a customer’s time on your website. This is important as it improves your rankings on search engines. In 2020, TechJury saw that the mobile market share worldwide was 52.1%, and 40% of people using the internet were searching from a smartphone. This is reason enough for fashion retailers to create a mobile-optimized shopping experience!
- Remember, your customers are your ambassadors: Put the spotlight on your customers with user-generated content. Connecting your website to your social media platforms is an effective tactic. Customers can tag your brand on social media, or post pictures wearing your items in real-life situations. You can also showcase customer reviews, unboxing videos and more.
2. Create cost-effective advertising campaigns with Google Ads
Google recently published a study stating that automation helped create more relevant ads for users. Google estimates that the purchase intent increases 15% due to tailored ad content, compared with the ads with basic personalization.
3. Add marketplaces to diversify your online marketing efforts
After optimizing your website, it’s time to spread the word and generate traffic. Listing your brand on fashion marketplaces is a great way to leverage their large customer base. This type of omnichannel marketing allows customers to connect with your brand through different avenues. With that, you can remain relevant and competitive in today’s crowded market. Additionally, you have lots of options to choose from to develop your strategy — retargeting campaigns, affiliate marketing, social ads or advertising products on price comparison websites such as Google Shopping.
Marketplaces are a huge opportunity for the fashion industry. Initially, they were associated with cheaper and lower-quality items, but that is no longer the case. Amazon launched Luxury Stores in September 2020, to accommodate sellers of luxury fashion brands. Another example of the wide range of options marketplaces offer is Amazon’s made for you, which allows customers to buy customized clothing.
Being online is no longer a “want to have”; it is critical to helping your fashion retail business thrive. You can reach customers worldwide and take customer service to the next level. Customers can shop at any time from any device in any location in a matter of seconds. If you truly want to always be there for your customers, being online is the most efficient and effective retail touch point for you and now is the time to level-up your experience.
Rob Van Nuenen is CEO of Channable, a leading global e-commerce platform provider for digital marketers, brands, and online retailers.