5 Things Online Apparel Retailers Need to Overtake Competitors
E-commerce has quickly become one of the most popular ways for consumers to shop, as it provides a level of convenience that brick-and-mortar stores simply can’t offer. Now with virtual fitting rooms and tools that can assemble new outfits online, among other refinements, it's easier than ever before to buy clothes online. Finding the right piece of clothing is approaching a truly frictionless transaction in which there are no impediments between desiring and acquiring apparel that fits perfectly and matches the consumer’s expectations.
Of course, with the continuing rise in the popularity of e-commerce comes a corresponding rise in competition, which is why it's critical that retailers implement practices that set them up for success and maximize customers’ shopping experiences. Here are five things online apparel retailers and platforms should have to take their company to the top:
1. Visible brand: Consumers should be able to look at a retailer’s website and get an instant understanding and feel for what the brand is all about. Retailers should use e-commerce platforms that are armed with solutions, including web design and custom programming, that allow them to easily communicate its brand from both a content and stylistic perspective. Furthermore, retailers should partner with an e-commerce platform provider that understands their brand’s vision and can build the solutions needed to help achieve its goals.
2. Integrated system: When a site is managed from just one backend, everything is streamlined, from return processes to product management. With such an integrated system, retailers can prevent duplicating efforts and making mistakes, which can lose customers.
3. Promotion strategy: Retailers need to know their customers and understand what promotional tactics are most attractive to them. From promotional banners to social media, retailers should have a strategy that strengthens customer engagement. For example, if a retailer identifies that a target consumer uses Pinterest more than other social media platforms, then the company should incorporate Pinterest "Rich Pins” into its promotional strategy, which can provide extra information on products users find in their Pinterest feeds, including where they can purchase them and how much they cost.
4. Search engine optimization: It’s important that retailers choose e-commerce platforms that are built with SEO and marketing needs in mind so that products can be found easily and quickly. By using a platform that has built-in SEO-friendly features, from product URLs to dynamic title tags, retailers are able to spread the word about their website and products successfully.
5. Merchandising: The apparel and fashion industry is constantly changing. To stay on trend and keep consumers engaged, businesses should take advantage of merchandising tools that enable consumers to go beyond the typical online shopping experience — e.g., mix-and-match features that allow customers to build custom outfits. Additional merchandising management features such as product reviews that allow customers to provide feedback and assign a point or star rating are also effective ways to build customer engagement.
As the e-commerce industry continues to grow, competition among online retailers will remain high, especially as the market expands with new brands and storefronts. By keeping up with the rapid pace of the retail and fashion industry, and partnering with an e-commerce platform provider that can maximize a customer’s experience, retailers have a stronger chance of garnering the loyal customers they need to beat the competition.
Neal Kaiser is the CEO of Upshot Commerce, a convergent commerce solutions provider located in Boston.