The past few years have completely transformed the way people shop. Between technological advances, changing consumer habits, and a pandemic that had almost all of the world in lockdown for a good few months, businesses worldwide have had to adapt. And that applied to the fashion industry as well.
While many industries saw spikes in e-commerce sales so far in 2020, with grocery e-commerce and health and streaming services seeing the biggest growth, others faced serious setbacks. Luxury goods and fashion retailers saw as much as a 20% drop in sales. Furthermore, many major businesses have had to close down their physical locations.
For small and mid-sized clothing retailers, this can look like bad news. But fortunately, things don't have to be that way. By creating a compelling website, many brands can shift (or expand) their focus online, thus ensuring that their business has the absolute best chance to get through any future challenge.
So, if you're thinking of creating a clothing retail website, these are the top tips to adhere to for maximum chances of success.
1) Design & UX
The design of your website is going to be the first thing potential customers notice once they land on a page.
Knowing that you have under seven seconds to make the first impression, you need to work hard to grab their attention and make a start towards gaining their trust. In fact, website design and user experience are so important that 94% of customers will judge a brand's reliability based on website design.
What does this mean for clothing retailers?
Well, first and foremost, you want to pick a design (whether custom-developed or a purchased theme) that's stunning. You can choose any of the popular trends, but keep in mind that your web pages need to do the following:
• They should always be in line with your branding.
• Design elements have to allow your products to stand out.
• Users should have an easy time navigating pages and categories.
• There should be a seamless checkout process.
If you manage to nail these four elements, you'll be off to a great start.
2) Customer Shopping Experience
What's the one thing that keeps your customers coming back for more, regardless of whether you run an online or brick-and-mortar store? It's the shopping experience you offer. Think about this: statistical data shows that brands with outstanding customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their underperforming competitors.
So what does shopping experience relate to, exactly?
Simply put, shopping experience pertains to all the front-store and backstage operations that ensure customer satisfaction. It includes everything from price points to shipping speeds, to product quality and customer service. In short, outstanding customer experience means not just piquing a buyer's interest, but firstly managing, and then even exceeding their expectations.
How can you do this with a clothing retail website? Well, it turns out, there's a bunch of things you can do to keep your audience coming back. Here's what to prioritise:
Predict and Meet Customers' Needs As a retailer, you've probably done an extensive amount of research on your target audience. Furthermore, as the fashion industry covers many product categories, you've probably decided on catering to a specific niche. With the data regarding your target audience and offered products in mind, you can ask a few key questions:
• What type of product or service is the industry lacking?
• How can I cater to my consumers' needs better than my competitors?
• What are the most common problems my customers have encountered when shopping with me?
Once you've collected these questions, you can go about finding the right answers. Perhaps what your specific buyers want is the ability to return any items that don't fit? Or maybe they're looking for more unique designs? Perhaps they'd wish your packaging were more eco-friendly, or they may prefer to contact your customer service team via phone.
Provide Information As we've already touched on meeting consumer expectations, it's safe to say that equipping buyers with relevant information is a crucial aspect of creating an outstanding customer experience. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to do. Aim to provide potential customers with in-depth size guides, such as this one by ASOS. Create FAQ pages that cover all shipping and payment information. You can even create a blog section on your website, as done here by Good On You, where you go into more detail about the fabrics and processes used in the production of your products.
Make Communication Seamless 68% of consumers say that their positive experience with a brand happens because of a helpful representative. With this information in mind, you need to ensure that your website allows your customer service team to shine.
In addition to easy-to-find contact information, consider also adding an on-page chat service (or even chatbot) to your webpage. Not only will web visitors have the opportunity to ask for help, but your representatives will also have insights into the pages visitors are viewing. So, by asking just a couple of questions, they'll be able to steer them in the right direction.
With this approach, you're sure to see a spike in conversion rates. Furthermore, you can extend the philosophy of seamless communication to your social media accounts, making it easier for potential and returning clients to get in touch and get swift replies.
3) Product Pages
What is it that makes online shopping so attractive to consumers? Well, for one, it's a stress-free way to shop. Not only convenient but fast as well, e-commerce allows consumers to make purchases on their own terms. But, perhaps more than convenience, the biggest advantage of buying online comes from the ability to make informed choices.
So, when creating a clothing retail website, you have the unique opportunity to provide your buyers with all the information they'd be missing at a physical store.
• You can put together illuminating, in-depth product descriptions. When broken up into bullets, they'll allow users to skim and focus on the details, which are of the greatest importance to them.
• Moreover, you can include comprehensive care instructions for each item in your offer. This way, your customers will know how to care for their items, helping them keep them for longer, and giving them higher value for their investment.
• Then, you can create compelling product photos. Go the standard route and show real-life models sporting your designs or follow some of the biggest names in the fashion industry and display your creations on dress forms or mannequins from a site like Mannequin Mall.
• Be sure to include social proof to all product pages. Customer reviews can help cement your brand's trustworthiness, as well as increase your conversion rates by as much as 44 percent. You'll see even better results if you find a way to show off user-generated content on your product pages, as it boosts engagement while keeping your marketing budget in check.
4) Test and Analyse
The final step for creating a compelling clothing retail website is going to be a critical approach to testing and analyzing.
As an e-commerce store, you have at your disposal a vast number of tools that will allow you to monitor your website's performance. From the standard Google Analytics insights to the more advanced analytics software (such as the CrazyEgg heatmap), you can measure KPIs and make any necessary changes based on user behavior.
One of the key things to remember when running an e-commerce store is that the work never stops.
In addition to the basic steps towards positive customer experience, you'll have to invest in SEO, creating content, maintaining an engaged social media presence, etc. As time passes, you might want to upgrade your website to include gamification or a loyalty program and thus boost customer retention. Or, you might find that experimenting with new technologies (such as creating virtual shopping experiences/) will give you the needed advantage over your competition.
Creating a compelling clothing retail website is no small feat. Nonetheless, considering the reality of 2020, investing in an e-commerce store means investing in the future of your business.
As you can see from the four tips above, an outstanding online shopping experience doesn't differ too much from what you'd want to offer in-store. In addition to creating an environment that reflects your brand's identity, you want to ensure that your buyers feel safe shopping with you, as well as that they're well-supported. So, remember: as long as you model your actions on their needs and their convenience, you're bound to see excellent results.