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Four sales-drivers for online fashion retailers

E-commerce is booming in Australia, with online retail sales increasing by 12 per cent in the last year and total revenue topping $20 billion, according to the latest NAB online retail index. One sector gaining significant online traction is fashion, with sales accounting for almost 16 per cent of all online spending.

To succeed in this industry, you can’t stand still. With consumers increasingly moving their shopping habits online, fashion retailers need to craft an online offer that not only turns heads, but turns browsers into buyers as well. Here are four top tips on how to style yourself an e-commerce presence which keeps customers coming back for more.

1. Cut the effort to find that perfect outfit

In store, the fashion-conscious will hunt through rails of clothing to find that perfect outfit. But online, attention spans can be much shorter. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, most website visitors stick around for less than 59 seconds, so if you don’t capture their attention in less than a minute, you’ve lost them.

As more visitors are entering fashion sites through product pages (versus the homepage) from organic search or paid ads, the best way to keep them on your site is by showing them additional items related to their original search with a dynamic product banner. Rich autocomplete technology can also ensure relevant product images are displayed in a drop-down under the search bar as users enter search terms. This functionality helps visitors quickly identify the products or brands they are looking for, and has been proven to dramatically increase conversions as much as 10 times.

2. Pair up those pants

What the world’s largest fast food chains do so well is up-sell. The phrase, ‘Would you like fries with that?’ has almost become synonymous with the food industry, and is an example of one of the most effective ways of increasing sales. But who says this strategy can’t be mimicked within other sectors?

According to research published by SLI Systems, approximately 25 per cent of site visitors will click on a search suggestion. By using learning technology that continually improves relevancy based on actual shopper activity, retailers can show visitors the items that are most likely to be paired or purchased in their situation.

What’s more, customers trust other customers’ experiences. Collect and display ratings and reviews and provide relevant recommendations, such as “customers who bought this item also bought” to encourage shoppers to explore products they may have otherwise missed.

3. Stay on trend

As fashion trends rapidly change, brands need to learn how to adapt – and fast. By implementing site search and navigation technologies which continuously learn and naturally move the most relevant items to the top of the search results, your customers can quickly find what is most popular and on-trend. The quicker you can show products that match your customers’ needs, the sooner they’ll move toward a purchase.

However, as too many options may overwhelm customers, consider offering refinements by size, style or even price to help users sort and narrow down products by their personal preferences.

4. Support fashion on the go

Technology is continually evolving, and retailers who fail to stay up-to-date risk falling behind.

Today, shopping is either performed on-the-go or while multitasking. Consider your site truly catwalk-worthy if a shopper can find what they’re looking for using only their thumbs. Enhance the quality of smaller screens. Improve speed. And don’t forget the holy grail of mobile shopping: the fewer clicks, the better.

Joe Thymian is the regional vice president of APAC for SLI Systems.

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