Tuesday 26th April 2016
7 Essential Features for any Online Fashion Retail Store
The fashion market in the UK alone is worth £66bn, according to industry researcher FashionUnited, making it one of the most hotly contested markets in the world. We’ve put together a list of essential features that you should implement on your online store to help beat out your competitors and cement yourself a spot at the top of the clothing food chain.
1. A Solid, Secure Platform
This might seem obvious, but no-one is going to buy from you if they can’t access your store. Making sure your site is built on a solid platform is essential to reaching your maximum sales potential. An eCommerce platform built on an unreliable system isn’t going to cut it, and whilst no service can guarantee one hundred percent uptime, it's important to choose the right foundations which your empire will be built upon.
In the digital age, keeping customer data secure is another thing that’s incredibly important. Unfortunately, it's not an 'added touch' that some customers will appreciate, it's a necessity when it comes to building a reputable brand. For more information on keeping your store secure, read our blog post on gaining customer trust.
At Statement, we recommend Shopify as a well-built solution for hosting your store, although it's always a good idea to research what's right for you before making a firm decision.
2. Simple, Clean Navigation
When you have a lot of great brands on board, and therefore a lot of products to sell, it can be easy to clutter up your site’s navigation with an overwhelming number of links. Stripping it down to the essentials helps keep your customer's journey straightforward and enjoyable.
For example, instead of listing all of your brands in the top level of your navigation, create a link called ‘Brands’, or something similar, which reveals a dropdown menu containing the list of the brands you stock when the customer hovers their mouse over the link.
Customers typically have a good idea of what they're looking for, even if they've never visited your site before. A mother visiting a childrenswear store for her son already knows what size and gender she is looking for, and so will expect to able to navigate to clothing solely for boys in less than two clicks. Having a 'Boys' link, housing the various product types in a dropdown underneath, is a great way to deliver this.
3. High Quality Imagery
If customers can't see what they're buyingdue to grainy, poor quality product imagery, sales aren’t going to soar. Thankfully, thanks to the rise of great quality cameras on smartphones, which we all have in our pockets, DIY product photography is easier than you might think, and can be quite cost-effective.
It's not just your products that need to have great accompanying images; banners and logos should also be clear and easy to read. The fashion brands you stock should always send out a file to their stockists every season containing professional imagery, showing off their upcoming releases. Using these files, you can easily create branded artwork that you can use on your homepage carousel, or on the collection pages for each brand.
4. Reassuring Policies
One major barrier in the customer journey is the reassurance that the product they're about to buy has a comprehensive returns, refund and delivery policy that will ensure that their order arrives on time, and can easily be sent back if it's not right for them.
Implementing these policies isn't difficult; it's as simple as creating a page on your store that is accessible from every other page on your store. Another great way of making your policies easily accessible is by including tabbed content on your product pages, which allows customers to easily navigate between each policy.
And, if you're one of the few online retailers still contemplating whether or not you should accept returns, the answer is yes. It's extremely rare to find a physical store nowadays that doesn't have some form of a returns/refund policy in place, and online retail should be no different.
5. Product Reviews
There's nothing more influential when it comes to clothing sales than other people's opinions. Implementing customer reviews is a great way not only to increase your brand's reputation and show that you're selling great products, but it can also be a way for you to gather and act on any negative feedback that may arise.
Reviews are great for SEO, as they are content that shows search engines that you're a reputable brand. Customers often search for reviews of a product directly, and ranking high for this is a great way for sales to land on your doorstep.
Cross-selling is a useful feature on all kinds of eCommerce stores, but it's come to be almost expected on a lot of fashion sites. Including a cross-selling feature allows you to incorporate a 'Complete the Outfit' type service, something which many customers are happy to do.
This not only boosts sales, but it can also make customers aware of products they couldn't find otherwise (although if this is the case, you might want to jump back to the tip around navigation). It's important that you make sure you're offering relevant products to those already in your customer’s cart; however, this could have a negative impact on your brand as it can be seen as being too sales-focused.
7. Size Guides
Every brand has different sizing guidelines, and customers need to feel confident that they're going to be purchasing the right size for them, first time. We recommend including a size guide for each brand you have available (or every product, if it's available) and displaying it prominently on the product page, perhaps under the description.
It's especially important to consider a size guide when selling internationally, as a size 10 in the UK equates to a size 6 in the US, and differs again when it comes to European sizing. Getting this right will not only help keep customers happy, it will also help decrease the amount of returns you will have to process from an operational point of view.
Need Additional Help?
If you need more ‘tailored’ advice, get in touch with us at Statement and we'll be more than happy to help.