Whether you are launching a new clothing brand or have been running one for some time now, thinking about gaining brand exposure and market share should always be paramount. However, as more and more clothing brands are launched, the competition is heating up.
There are more choices for consumers from independent labels. Realizing that their grip on the market is slackening, large fashion houses are investing vast amounts of money to ensuring their power and dominance does not diminish.
So how is a small independent label to face this competition and survive? Better yet, how to become successful and gain market share?
“Innovation and disruption are the keys to this predicament.”
Disrupting the clothing industry through innovation is not only possible but also necessary if you want your apparel company to thrive and become successful. Here are some ideas on how to be innovative and in turn possibly disrupt the clothing industry.
Tip #1: Solve Personal Shopping Experience
Most people love to shop at the mall or the high street. They like to browse the products – especially clothing and accessories – try them on for size and then complete the purchase. When it comes to online, this experience is not present and most of the clothing brands’ websites are so bad it is a surprise any of them are getting any sales at all.
Personalization through understanding the buyer personas and then utilizing technology to customize the shopping experience will truly set your brand apart and disrupt the plethora of clunky websites in your market segment. Personalization can be in the form of look books and matching recommendations tailored specifically to each person who comes to your online store.
These recommendations can be served up to the visitors by analyzing their social media profiles, what they are browsing and searching for and what they may or may not like. There is big data available for purchase on buyer habits. Leverage this data and construct a recommendation system that will amaze your customers.
Tip #2: Solve Sizing Problems
The biggest challenge small fashion brands face is the apprehension that consumers have when browsing online to buy a piece of clothing or accessory, of not knowing wether the item would fit them and wether they would like it. Ordering an item from a website, paying for the shipping, waiting for the item to arrive and then realizing it is not the right size or that it just does not look good, prevents many from buying from unknown brands.
One way of solving this could be through personalization via technology. Body scanning has become come of age and it would be wise to invest in integrating that technology into your sales process. There are a few new players in the body scanning market that are trying to provide a practical and affordable solutions to buyers to scan their body measurements and upload them to a cloud database that can then used by clothing brands to offer sizing options that would fit the consumer like a glove. A great example is Bodi.Me, who offer free full body scanning at one of their popup booths.
Once sizing issues have been tackled and the consumer believes they can safely order a piece of clothing with out worrying about the size and fit, brands will see a huge surge in sales and also solve another nagging issue that is plaguing the clothing industry – returns and shipping costs.
Tip #3: Solve Return Problems
While this may not sound like a disruptive idea, it is nevertheless a problem that most online clothing brands face. Brands shell out millions of dollars for return and shipping. This stems from the above problem – wrong sizing and wrong orders. If you can ensure that you nail the sizing problem and personalize the experience through innovative technology then this problem would be minimized.
Offering an innovative return and shipping method could a long way in terms of increasing your market share of the fashion arena. If your returns policy is solid and your return shipping uses technology to make it silly easy for people to return their items then you have a win win scenario.
Zappos disrupted the online shoe market by offering to send shoes of different sizes to the customer who can then try them on, keep the one that fits and return the rest free of charge. Now that is innovative thinking!
Tip #4: Solve Customer Service Issues
Another big issues that most consumers dread is dealing with online clothing store customer service. They come to realize that picking up the phone may not always give them the immediate result they are seeking. Most often this puts off online purchases from unknown brands and people gravitate towards bigger brand websites ever it means paying more.
To solve this problem on your ecommerce clothing store, you could leverage social media as a customer service tool. Encourage your customers or site browsers to ask you questions via Twitter or Facebook. So instead of spending time on the phone or answering emails, you support team can easily answer most questions on Twitter in a few seconds.
Tip #5: Solve Trust Problems
Most often than not people stop short of completing a purchase on an online clothing store because of their fear of entering their credit card details on the site. This mistrust usually stems from a few visual indicators on the website itself and not so much related to the brand.
A poorly built website, the lack of an SSL (secure certificate) or the lack of a dedicated payment processor could be the major culprits.
To solve these problem invest adequately in creating the most professional looking online store you possibly can. Look for a web designer who has experience in creating high converting online stores. Reduce the launch party budget and put that into the website. Sign up with one of the reputable payment processors and ensure that your customer does not leave the site to make the payment on a 3rd party website. This erodes trust very quickly. Invest in a robust SSL certificate and a web host that can handle security.
Although this is not an exhaustive list of tips on increasing sales on your online clothing store, this is a good start and touches upon the major problem plaguing this industry.
In the upcoming articles I will be writing more about marketing your clothing company and touch upon the topics in depth.