18 March 2019
Geoff is the Director of Technology at Volo. He contributes posts on the present and future of retail technology.
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It doesn't matter whether your online platform is slick and capable of converting customers or you’re still in an early phase of your digital journey — a lot of your future success hinges on how effectively you can attract customers to your site.
With the right help, any fashion retailer can improve their ecommerce growth; you just have to be willing to do what you can to help your customers to find you in the first place.Fashion retailers around the world are always looking to increase their share of an online fashion market that is continually improving and growing. In an otherwise flat market, online growth is powering much of the revenue increases posted by leading fashion retailers and brands. Offline, revenues are often stagnating and the power of the store is waning (at least in purely transactional terms).
On top of that, new technologies are creating opportunities for fashion brands to develop a competitive advantage in ways that didn’t before exist. Artificial intelligence is having a significant impact in a variety of industries. In fashion, it's an up and coming way for brands to grow their sales. eCommerce-first technology should be central to your strategy of growth.
However, technology is only a tool. It has to be complemented with processes and strategy to deliver real outcomes. Here are five tips on how technology is delivering new ways to grow ecommerce sales for your fashion brand.
Larger brands with multiple product lines engaged in constant product innovation have the largest challenge when it comes to sales. With more to offer, they have the highest potential when it comes to increasing sales growth.
Unfortunately, the level of complexity that arises from all of that product data makes it hard to get products online effectively and efficiently. eCommerce teams have to put as many product listings online as possible for long-term growth and short-term revenue — and this can result in missing attributes and lower quality copy in the product data.
With missing attributes, you end up with products that slip through the net of search engines, because when consumers specify an attribute like material, the search engine has no way of knowing what material the product is made out of, if that field isn’t correctly filled with the right value. To combat this, fashion retailers can utilise new technology to help them list their products more efficiently, freeing up time to create targeted and tailored product descriptions while still producing those listings faster.
High-quality listings are essential if fashion retailers want to improve their ecommerce sales. Getting listings up to channels and making sure that the essential fields are completed is central to this. But brands and retailers can go further. You need to ensure that all the most valuable additional bits of data are present, augmenting your listing with extra SEO juice.
You also need to ensure that elements like the product images are high quality and focus on key details, in harmony with the product description copy and title which should highlight the unique and interesting elements of your product.
You have to remember that your online customers can’t touch your products or try them on. Your product descriptions effectively have to be a stand-in for the dressing room. That means descriptive copy and high-quality photos from a number of angles. Post videos if possible.
How your products are listed also impacts if they will be found. Different platforms have different search filters. You need to make sure you use the right keywords to give yourself the best chance possible of being found by relevant customers.
Finally, product listings need to be tailored to account for different platforms’ requirements, and the different needs and behaviours of your customers on each platform. This task traditionally would represent a logistical and manual nightmare for ecommerce teams. Trying to keep track of the different marketplace listing priorities typically required countless spreadsheets and manual updates. However, next-generation ecommerce technology can make this simple, feeding you the insights you need to maximise SEO, automatically making changes and allowing you to spend more time on the stuff that will convert customers after they find your product.
Fashion retailers are all about their product. Whether the brand is showcasing footwear or accessories, it doesn't matter. Brands know what their consumers will respond to, and they should play to that strength. This is exactly what fashion retailers should be doing. By channelling their efforts into their product marketing on channels like Google Shopping, they can be far more successful.
This success comes from fashion retailers who have higher quality product content which features the right attributes and information that the consumer needs to remain engaged and interested. It's always worth investing in product marketing. Visibility is so important when it comes to online fashion retailers hoping to grow.
Getting close to the customer and understanding their priorities, needs and behaviours are always high priorities for fashion retailers. However, turning this from a talking point into action is often a challenge, and tying it to increased sales is even harder. This is where AI can help. Rather than focusing on a small part of the puzzle, as a reporting tool like Google Analytics can do for a website, AI-powered tools can pull data agnostically from different sources. That allows a much wider picture. AI is required for this task because of the scale of data - manually combing the data for answers and insights would be too time-consuming.
By contrast, algorithmic intelligence allows AI to deliver actionable insights based on your customer’s needs and wants, in real time. From there, the insights become instantly actionable when you connect up the AI to your product data set - allowing the AI to automatically optimise the product information to fit your market, according to the full data picture.
These intelligent platforms are the tools that can help a fashion retailer get inside the mind of the customer and assess what they want the most. With artificial intelligence, fashion retailers can get through the data efficiently, prioritising all the useful actions from editing copy description to finding the right keywords. With the correct information, ecommerce teams can make the positive changes that bring in a higher return on investment.
Fashion retailers need more than one channel to reach their customers. With more efficient processes thanks to the right modern technology, ecommerce teams can manage more channels and get their products out there in the world.
It's essential that brands spend time to understand the value of each channel and select the right channels for your business and your customer. Devoting time and energy to as many channels as you can possibly reach is usually a suboptimal approach to reaching the customer in the right way and through the right channel. Taking the right action on the right mix of channels can make a massive difference to your bottom line while benefiting the customer at the same time.
If you can focus on all of these five areas, your fashion retail brand can unlock its full potential. Data quality is critical when it comes to making your products visible to customers. Efficiency in your internal processes will allow you to focus your efforts on the strategic brand elements that ensure your long term success.
Customer needs will evolve, and without keeping up with them, fashion retailers will be left behind. Use new technology to stand out and enable your digital team to roll with the changes rather than letting those changes knock you down.
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