Want to be a fashion e-Tailer?
Seams easy, get a turnkey site from the likes of Shopify and turn your spare room into a warehouse, or act as an intermediary for a few labels, or your own. But if it was that easy, we would all become stay at home shopkeepers.
The reality is, while online has grown substantially, there is a lot to consider and it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out.
So what will make customers flock to your site and return time and time again? This is an introductory piece of branding alone is a science that takes time to shape. Therefore, take themes and points to build your strategy.
Here’s the thing, there is a big difference between buying something you need versus something on a whim. Buying a £20 work shirt is very different to a £300 party dress. There are different motivations and expectations for a customer, male and female. There is a reason why we will always have physical retail for fashion. Going in-store lowers the risk of disappointment.
So apart from the convenience of online to avoid crowded shops, price plays a big part online. If you paid £10 pounds for an item, you are happy to take a chance. If it’s not as expected, you’ll chalk it up to experience. An expensive dress or suit, that is going to be a very different consumer journey and decision-making process.
A final point about fashion buying online. There is no physical good in your hand at the time of purchase. You have not formed any real attachment. You have no guarantee that it will look likes its picture and be the right fit.
There is a delayed gratification to the process, so the longer a person waits and the higher the price, the harder it will be to keep them happy. It’s a bit like opening a Christmas present. You asked for something, but because you have waited a few weeks, you get a buzz from the anticipation of opening it.
Remember this when selling clothing on-line, you are selling, in effect a present……
Where to start?
The first thing you have to consider is why? Are you already making clothing and accessories and therefore need an outlet? Or are you looking to set up an online store because you think there is a gap in the market?
While there are differences in approach, which will be covered below, the unifying theme you need to consider first, is your branding and name. Ask yourself:
You now have a seed germinating about your site, but depending if you are making your own clothes or curating a site for items you want to stock, there is some difference to be aware of.
An online presence gives you an affordable option to complement your other sales channels, so consider:
Make sure you have spotted a gap in the market first.
Physical retailers emerge because of a local need. A high-street would be over-saturated with 5 butchers. But no bakery, now..... there’s an opportunity! Think about this principle when creating an online shop, don’t just sell what everyone else is selling, you will only just end up competing on price and spending a small fortune on advertising. So:
Irrespective of being a maker or a pure retailer, content really is king.
1. Blogging – As you build the story of your brand and online showroom, factor in how you are going to communicate with customers. You are building trust. When in a physical store you can strike up a conversation far easier. So your blog is how you can convey your personality and your passion for what you sell in a virtual world.
2. Product listings, there are some basic facts that if omitted, can stop a conversion:
3. Terms of business – often forgotten but make sure you are clear on your delivery and returns policy. Can your delivery partner offer tracking?
4. About you – make sure you say who you are, registered address, and company number (if applicable) - why should they buy from you?
5. Mailing lists- invite customers and potential customers to join your mailing list. Make sure there is something in it for them, i.e. free gift on first purchase, discounts, invites to special offers etc. Do not bombard them with too many emails.
Always put yourself in your customer shoes. Pop-ups and cumbersome keystrokes to find an item are not great. Especially if you are a new site.
Becoming an online retailer is no easy task. There is a huge amount to do in terms of logistics and infrastructure. There will be trial and error with product selection. You will be bombarded with SEO search 'experts' and 'conversation specialists'. But - no amount of marketing spend will make up for poor - branding, product selection, content and customer service. Just as with physical retail, consider the journey for the customer from browsing to delivery.
So, make sure you take your time to research the market and make sure you are filling a gap. Build up social presents before you go-live and build trust with potential customers and share your taste and opinions to attract the customers you are targeting. Customers want an authentic experience online, therefore DO NOT BUY FOLLOWERS.
Talk to your customers and do not be afraid to take criticism. It is how you deal with complaints, that will set you apart.
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