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An In-depth Guide: The Dos and Don’ts of Fashion eCommerce

05 March 2014 by Steve Lewis


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If there’s one industry that’s been revolutionised by the internet, it’s fashion.

The World Wide Web has greatly affected the amount of people buying clothes from bricks and mortar stores and has near enough decimated the humble mail order catalogue.

So how can an up-and-coming fashion house make a splash online? Here are the PHP Genie dos and don’ts – your essential guide to fashion eCommerce strategy.

DO – Remember that images are everything

If you’re selling apparel online your product photography is everything. When buying online, customers don’t have the benefit of trying clothes on for size, so your photography has to do the job instead. Imagery is your salesman – and you need to be sure that yours are saying the right thing.

If you’re looking to make a splash with your product photography, ensure you convey a range of different perspectives:

  •     Close-up shots
  •     Being worn by models
  •     Sitting flat
  •     Lifestyle shots

Many brands also use videos of models wearing their apparel in lifestyle videos or on fashion shoots, which presents another perspective.

Get your ‘blogtography’ right too

It makes sense that any onsite content for your fashion brand needs to be heavy on images, and the right design, to make an impression with your target audience.

See how Topshop’s Hitlist blog feature uses imagery to sell what its brand is all about and align its products with the lifestyle of its customers.

Find out more about how blogging can really help you to grow your eCommerce brand.

Could a personal touch work?

You don’t always have to spend thousands on rigging up the most expensive photography equipment.

Nowadays, many of the images that people find most compelling are shot on smartphone – mirroring the images that they take and share on Facebook and Instagram – so consider whether a more ‘personal’ approach to photography could work for you.

Studies have found time and time again that user-generated content, pictures and reviews are highly effective at conveying trust, so as well as encouraging customer reviews consider integrating Instagram feeds into your category pages or product pages.

DO – Cherish your regular customers

Did you know that it costs five times as much to find and attract new customers than it does to keep a current one? Repeat customers are the lifeblood of any eCommerce store – particularly smaller fashion houses.

To entice old customers back online you need to ensure you excel in your communications through PR and social media (more on that in a bit), have ever-evolving styles and designs and, of course, treat your customers properly when they do buy from you.

Read more about how you can maximise the amount of customers you have returning to a site.

DON’T – Neglect your social channels

While it’s true that social still doesn’t directly drive sales – statistics from IBM suggested that just 1% of sales on Cyber Monday came after clicking on links from social platforms – making the most of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other communities is a huge part of keeping your brand fresh and relevant online.

Social is a great way to learn more about your demographics, expose yourself to new, relevant customers and strengthen the relationship with those people who already love your brand.

Who does social best?

The fashion industry is already teeming with enviable brands who are doing the business on their social media channels – so you’ve plenty of different avenues to get inspiration.

Check out how Converse uses its Instagram feed not just to show how great its shoes are, but to show the lifestyle that its customers (and you too, by extension) enjoy.

 

Want to start communicating better online? Check out our guide to Instagram.

DON’T – Look bad

In the fashion world, how your site looks and how your products are laid out will say a huge amount about your brand. Without decent design, you’ll really struggle to turn visitors into conversions.

Does your site function smoothly? Is the design interesting and engaging? Are you using a font that looks good and that’s easy to read? How does your 404 error page look? Do bounce rates suggest that customers are turned off or confused by the aesthetics?


DO – Give all the information you can in your product descriptions

The goal of every eCommerce website should be to make it as easy as possible for customers to find, and buy, exactly what they’re looking for. Therefore, you need your product descriptions to give as much relevant information as possible.

Before committing to a purchase, customers will need to know a product’s:

  •     Dimensions
  •     Materials
  •     Stylings
  •     Washing instructions
  •     Fit
  •     Colour
  •     Delivery information

Note how ASOS even lets you know the size of the model to let you know exactly how it’ll look on you. That’s the level of detail you need if you’re to maximise conversions.

Lay low on the sales copy

As we’ve said before, the product images will be your best salesmen and only a line or two of persuasive copy is necessary. Just let your customers know what they can expect from your product – how it will look, how it will feel and how it will suit the lifestyle.

Check out our guide and learn more about how you can make your product descriptions work for you.

DON’T – Forget mobile and tablet

In the UK, 51% of people use a smartphone – 76% of whom use it to browse the internet.

What’s more, according to Our Mobile Planet, 39% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using a smartphone.

It’s not just mobile either. According to Brandwatch, tablet ownership has risen by 282% in the last two years and the Internet Advertising Bureau found that tablet owners spent 4 ½ hours every week browsing and shopping.

Therefore, you need to be sure that your fashion website works well, and looks good on tablets and portable devices, or you could be alienating huge swaths of your audience online.

Our Mobile Planet’s Barriers for Mobile Purchase graph shows that in 2013, some of the biggest user issues are centred around security, loading times and thin product information.

Want to convert mobile customers online? Ensure your site is fast, looks trustworthy and has easily-presentable information to mobile devices.

DO – Ensure you’re tracking users across different devices

Although mobile and tablet browsing is hugely important, a significant percentage still buy on desktop, laptops and over the phone.

Mobile devices are being used significantly as ‘showroom’ devices – something that they’d do research on and communicate with their friends with before buying products on a desktop.

To highlight this fact, a report by  eConsultancy found that during Cyber Monday in December 2013 mobile and tablet visits grew by 146% and 113% respectively, while desktop increased by just 1.8%. Yet, mobile and tablet only experienced a rise in conversion rate of just 0.1% while desktop’s conversions rose by 0.6% to 4.9%.

What’s more, Our Mobile Planet says that 11% of smartphone users have used their phone to research and buy a fashion product online, while 16% researched on their smartphone before buying on a desktop device.

It’s clear that mobile devices are informing and boosting desktop sales, so you need to make sure you’re tracking users online through different devices.


DO – Talk to developers you can trust

Wondering how you could create an innovative, stylish website that complements your fashion brand? At TheGenieLab we’ve a passion for ultra-responsive, exciting web design and have worked with a number of top brands. Talk to us today

– call 01633 415 364 or enter your details today.


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Tom from TheGenieLab May 13, 2015

Thanks Nick – sorry for the delayed response. A very interesting question! I am not aware of specific research on this, though I am sure there is some out there even if it is not directly related to fashion Ecommerce. My own opinion is that in many cases it would a good thing so long as your model’s face suits your product as much as the rest of them does. There is also a half way house as shown in the link below, where there is enough to suggest the kind of face, but is cropped about half way. Thanks for getting in touch!! http://www.pixelz.com/blog/7-easy-steps-create-professional-apparel-product-photos-with-live-models/


Nick May 07, 2015

What is your opinion, or do you have any research, into showing model’s faces for category images?


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