Window shopping on the decline in the post-Covid era

With the threat of second wave of the pandemic looming and increased Government restrictions disrupting footfall on the high street, the immediate future of fashion retail is uncertain. The brands that succeed in these trying times will be those that place as much emphasis on customer experience online as they do in their bricks and mortar locations. Here we’ll take a look at what fashion brands can do to set themselves apart and assist their customers’ digital research in an online-first world.

Inform the customer with optimised listings

The best way to maximise online customer experience is to allow shoppers to learn just as much, if not more, about a product online as they would instore. By informing the customer with optimised product listings, you are arming them with the details to make a purchasing decision. Good customer experience will stick with them, even if they don’t follow through with a purchase at the time and they will be more likely to research and shop with you in the future.

The trick here is to get the basics right. Detailed product descriptions and visual assets are the first things most customers look at when comparing products, followed by price and reviews. This information, as well as unique product details like recycled materials, must be easily accessible to customers and will need to be specifically optimised to meet each marketplace’s requirements.

ASOS is a company consistently getting this right. The brand always shows its products on models and provides extremely detailed descriptions of material, fits and more, to give potential buyers a much better idea of the product they are looking at. Combined with their clear returns policy, the brand is winning over many loyal customers, who have continued to spend with them throughout the pandemic.

Communicated inventory

No matter how detailed your online product information is, there will always be a proportion of your customer base that still prefers to shop instore or are unable to accept deliveries. Even within this group, most will be wanting to reduce the total time they spend instore. You can assist potential shoppers by providing clear options for them while they research your products online.

The best way to do this is by putting in place sound inventory tracking infrastructure that is regularly updated. This can then feed into your branded site, to show customers the availability of products in locations near them. The most important thing here is to be totally consistent across platforms. Confused shoppers that have been told different things on different channels or, even worse, head to a physical store where there is no availability, will be put off from shopping with you again. Where possible, direct users back to your own website for the most up to date information.

UK retailer Next is a prime example of utilising a streamlined inventory infrastructure that is accessible to their audience. Their “Collect in store” service allows customers to check the availability of any product in stores nearby and then have it ready to collect within an hour.

“Always on” shopping

Today’s customer path to purchase is complex with a variety of start points. While most shoppers find products by first heading to their preferred marketplace or retailer, many, especially within the younger generations, are now discovering products outside of the traditional shopping funnel.

Successful brands have made the most of the various social platform features to draw shoppers into a shopping experience. More than 500 million accounts use Instagram stories every day and another 300 million use Facebook and Messenger stories. Each feature collection ads, which take users to a full-screen landing page with additional product details. By combining appealing digital marketing with the functionality of a checkout, brands can help their shoppers to discover, browse and purchase products all without leaving their social channel.

With customers spending much more time online, and the majority researching before they head instore, the brands that succeed will be those who experiment with ad formats, keep a close eye on performance windows and most of all, listen to customer feedback.

This article was written for FashionUnited by Vladi Shlesman, Managing Director EMEA, ChannelAdvisor. ChannelAdvisor is a leading global e-commerce cloud platform whose mission is to connect and optimise the world’s commerce.

Image: Pexels

 

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