The apparel and accessories category is the largest single product category in the eCommerce industry. In 2018, sales topped $103 billion and by 2022, that figure is projected to top $170 billion. Competition within this eCommerce category is fierce. To capture their share of sales, leading fashion brands and retailers are building sites that delight shoppers and turn them into loyal customers. To keep up with them (and hopefully surpass them), you too must dress your site for success.
So, we’ve done some research and compiled a list of some of the best tried and tested tactics the world’s biggest fashion brands are using to give their customers the best shopping experience possible:
Intuitive search functionality
Today’s shoppers have high expectations when it comes to search functionality. They’re used to finding exactly what they’re looking for via Google and believe search on your eCommerce site should be no different. In fact, there’s no better way to frustrate and disappoint customer than serving up irrelevant results or even 0 results for a relatively straightforward query. Especially when you consider that most eCommerce customers go directly to a site’s search tool to find products.
Successful fashion brands understand that shoppers must be able to find what they want quickly and easily, especially now that more and more consumers are using mobile devices to search and shop. Which is why many fashion brands have opted to use third party site search tools that use machine learning and artificial intelligence to sync customer search queries with product titles, variants, descriptions, images, videos, SKUs, and reordering codes.
Fashion Nova, PrettyLittleThing, and Irish fashion retailers, iClothing and O’Neills, all use predictive autocomplete to showcase products they feel are relevant to the shopper’s search. This not only saves customers time, it also front loads popular products, and gets visual straight away.
Clothing is highly visual and tactile. Online shopping removes the latter part of the equation, which means that images are exceptionally important when it comes to attracting customers and keeping them on your site long enough to complete a purchase. But not just any images will do.
To feel comfortable purchasing a garment, shoppers need to be able to visualise how it will fit on them. Today’s most successful clothing brands and retailers understand that beautiful product images increase sales and the more you can show the consumer, the better – at the very least, a front, side and back view of the product, along with a detail shot. They also recognise the need to communicate shape and fit to customers. Which is why the likes of ASOS and PrettyLittleThing always display their clothing on a live model. Doing so allows the customer to see the shape and natural draping of each product and gives them a realistic idea of how the garment will fit on them.
Video has also become an increasingly popular way to showcase clothing items and one which consumers have come to rely on. Warehouse, ASOS, and Missguided all provide a video of a model wearing and moving around in almost every item housed on their site alongside static images, so shoppers can get a feel for how the item sits and moves on the body in real time.
Item styling has also become incredibly important. In this Instagram age, shoppers are constantly on the lookout for their next #OOTD. Which is why Australian apparel brand, Bohemian Traders, go one step further when it comes to displaying their items. Not only do they provide shoppers with a video of each item on a live model and several static shots of the garment from several angles, they also show the model wearing the specific clothing item as part of several different outfits to showcase different ways the item can be worn or styled.
Relevant and informative product descriptions
Almost as important as the images used to display an item are the words used to describe it. Shoppers want to know how they will feel in an item and how others will perceive them when they wear it. Which is why brands like PrettyLittleThing and Net-a-Porter make it clear what’s in it for the shopper if they buy, by creating descriptions that speak directly and appeal to them. Note the difference between the language and tone used by PLT versus that of Net-a-Porter:
PLT are speaking to younger, fashion-conscious, celebrity and social media-loving shoppers looking for a great Saturday night outfit to impress their friends.
While Net-a-Porter are speaking to an older, more discerning, yet still fashion-conscious shopper looking for an elegant forever piece to add to their wardrobe collection.
As well as providing key technical details regarding the sizing, material, care guidelines, and delivery information in bullet point form, these brands tell shoppers why the item is a must have and, crucially, make suggestions for how shoppers can style it. As a fashion retailer, customers assume these brands know a lot about trends and style, so they offer advice about how their customers can best wear their clothes – much like they would do if they entered a physical store.
Smart sizing guides
One of the biggest problems faced by shoppers when buying online is getting the sizing right. After all, the majority of returns for eCommerce apparel items are due to the customer not being satisfied with the fit. Which is why brands like Uniqlo, Zara and ASOS, have spent time developing fit finder technology to help shoppers be more confident about sizing when perusing their eCommerce stores and reduce returns.
Back in 2017, Zara introduced a revolutionary new feature called “What’s My Size?”. The tool asks shoppers to enter their height, weight, and fit preferences (tight, loose, or perfect), then suggests a size for them to buy based on which size other customers (who fall into similar size and weight bracket) have bought previously.
The feature appears on every product page, and after entering your information once, the website saves it and automatically applies it to any other items the shopper chooses to view. This is a really great example of how eCommerce user data like size and fit preference can be used to benefit shoppers by improving their shopping experience.
Since then other brands like Uniqlo and ASOS have introduced their own form of smart fitting technology to their sites, that asks shoppers to enter key measurements and specifications before predicting which size is right for them.
While brands like Acne Studios, Hobbs, and Balenciaga use Virtusize to help their customers find the perfect fit by helping them measure clothes they already own or compare their current sizing in other brands to the brand in question.
Customer reviews and user-generated content
70% of customers consult reviews or ratings before making a final purchase. And 88% of them trust those reviews as much as personal recommendations. Customer reviews are now something that many shoppers depend on and as such, are powerful pieces of social proof that persuade people to buy.
Lingerie brand, Bravissimo, understand this and choose to place both the product’s star rating and a link to customer reviews directly beneath the title of the product and the price, so it is one of the first details noticed by potential buyers. When the consumer clicks in to view the reviews, reviewers’ bra size is stated alongside their review so new customers can see what other woman with similar bust sizes to them have said about the product.
It might be one of the most profitable eCommerce categories, but to be a success in the apparel and accessories category is hard work. Dressing your site so that it allows shoppers to search efficiently, view products easily, find the correct size first time, and take advantage of social proof is key to attracting customers and winning sales.
Do you want to learn more about increasing your eCommerce sales? Fancy increasing your sales conversions by 20%, average basket size by 30%, and your repeat sales by 20-fold? Book a demo with our team today.