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E-commerce is changing: What can fashion do to keep up?

By Weixin Zha

30 Jul 2018

Retail |ADVICE

The business of selling fashion online is becoming more complex as social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook introduce independent shopping functions of their own. Fashion brands and retailers must create well-thought-out strategies to incorporate changes in e-commerce from the start or risk losing money, says Coen Frederiks, owner of Amsterdam-based digital agency Coqtail. He shared some advice for fashion businesses that want to break into e-commerce at Amsterdam trade fair Modefabriek.

E-Commerce is changing rapidly. The time people spend online has increased in the past years, especially on smartphones, according to Frederiks. At the same time, the numbers of channels that people visit online have also risen; from blogs to Pinterest, and Facebook to recommendation sites. Some of these channels, like Instagram are even introducing shopping tools within the app or webpage. Today, a brand or retailer possesses more channels to advertise its products, however, e-commerce has become more complex as a result.

The role of a web shop is changing

Following the rise in the number of channels, customers are using online shops less for browsing for products to buy because many have already decided what they want beforehand. “The role the of a webshop is more and more conversion-based rather than inspiration-based,” said Frederiks.

Nowadays, the decision for a purchase is taking place on social media, newsletters, all kind of other channels. The change in behavior means that web shops need to simplify the buying process to allow a quick checkout, he said. Before changing features, it’s important to study data on how the website is being used by customers. When Frederiks and his team re-designed the web shop for Dutch sneaker brand Nubikk, he found that the majority of customers would only shop one pair of shoes for their gender. He designed the menu to reflect the observed behaviour, simplifying the process of choosing gender, model, size and color. Once a pair is chosen, customers can directly proceed to checkout without additionally clicking on their shopping basket.

Watch the video to see how quickly customers can buy a pair of Nubikk sneakers online.

E-commerce will become broader

Currently, there is a website where visitors will go to for shopping, but e-commerce will become broader, Frederiks predicts. What will this change look like? Platforms like Instagram or Facebook will be connected to a retailer’s e-commerce platform for consumers to shop through their social media. “Web shops as they’re now will change rapidly to multiplatforms where the shopper will be redirected,” he said.

There are several software systems that can serve as the central e-commerce system linked to different platforms, like Instagram. Customers can find items they are looking for on Instagram for example, but purchase it through the central e-commerce system that is linked. Frederiks’ company works with the software SpreeCommerce, but there are also Magento and Shopify for instance.

Advice for starters to E-commerce by Coen Frederiks:

  • 1. Get the knowledge. Hire an employee to focus on e-commerce or find an external partner: “That’s the biggest issue we’re facing now. Most of the retailers and brands don’t have the knowledge what’s going on online and how it can help them optimize their business.”
  • 2. Make the right decision about the technologies you’re using: “Is it Magento, shopify, SpreeCommerce or some tailored solution?”
  • 3. Choose a good payment service provider: „The last part of the purchase is such an important part. So choosing the right payment provider is crucial.”
  • 4. Create good content: “Good content starts with product images and campaign photography is really important to get your brand awareness out into the online channels. If you can’t afford this kind of investment, online probably isn’t for you.

New webshops require strong planning

“If you do it, if you have to do it right. Otherwise you can lose so much money on setting up e-commerce and don’t sell anything online”, said Frederiks. “So you need to invest in good e-commerce, content, fulfillment and support. It’s really important to make the business case upfront.”

For retailers and brands which are just starting to sell online and don’t want to invest a lot in an e-commerce system upfront, Frederiks recommends selling through a platform like Shopify. The e-commerce platform provider Shopify offers a webshop for brands, costing only a couple hundred dollars per year, and allows companies to focus on creating good content and marketing before investing heavily into their e-commerce platform.

“I see a lot of small retailers and brands who start with Shopify, get some traction and from there professionalize it,” he said. “Step-by-step, you need to optimize your ecommerce position. It’s not something you set up and will work by tomorrow. You need to focus on optimizing it and then you will slowly be able to make a profit from of it.”

Photo 1: pexels/Photo 2: FashionUnited

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