26 March 2019
By Ethan Morgan
Ethan is in the marketing team at Volo, and specialises in writing about retail trends and news for our blog, white papers and reports.
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Achieving success in a crowded and fast-moving market like fashion retail is all about adapting to customer expectations and staying focused on differentiating your brand and experience. Leading fashion retailers in 2019 are investing in technology to help them cover these bases and improve their customer experience. Here’s our list of the top 10 fashion retailers to watch and learn from in 2019.
One of the undisputed leaders of online fashion retail, ASOS has become synonymous with brilliant user experience design. Key information is kept above the fold on every product page, using a great economy of images to keep pages clean while allowing shoppers to access high quality product descriptions at the click of a button.
This mobile-optimised design is supported by search engine optimisation that consistently helps individual product pages rank, making it easier to find and browse products on a range of platforms. This is thanks to the quality of product data behind each listing, which allows search engines to understand their relevance and rank them higher for high-conversion search terms.
Speed to market plays a key role in ASOS’s success, too, with strong distribution links set up internationally so that it can even sometimes be faster than domestic deliveries. The retailer is also investing in smart implementations of advanced software like visual searching tools to enable customers to find products in a new and intuitive way.
One of the UK’s most valuable fashion retailers, Zara’s adoption of ecommerce as a part of its core strategy has been key to its success.
Offering all that you need to know about a product with a single look is one of the greatest strengths of their user design. Product descriptions, size options, price and more are always kept on screen, with the scroll functioning to run through a slideshow of images on the side.
Convenience is another selling point with a “What’s my size?” feature and in-store availability checkers breaking the barriers of uncertainty that might stop a shopper from clicking forward.
The retailer’s parent company, Inditex, reported FY18 revenues of €26.15 billion and online sales growth of 27% to €3.2 billion, representing 12% of net sales. This represents an impressive combination of scale and continued growth, as Inditex continues to emphasise the increased availability of its collections across channels and regions.
Another online retailer that focuses on the evocative nature of great fashion photography to grab audience attention, product imagery takes up 50% of the screen at any time on Boohoo. Colour variants are quickly displayed at a glance, while the other half of the screen remains dedicated to fantastic product descriptions.
These descriptions are “style notes” as opposed to traditional product descriptions. This mixture of description with fashion tips talks directly to customer needs while playing up the strength of each item.
The mobile world has helped the top online fashion stores become even more disruptive and La Redoute leads the way in showing how mobile ecommerce can be done right. Their site is optimised to look great on a variety of platforms, including mobile devices which now represent the majority of customer traffic to retail sites.
Like Boohoo, it focuses on offering imagery. With plenty of visual real estate above the fold, while just beneath are not only highly detailed product descriptions, but also a “Complete the Look” style guide-meets-product recommendation section that encourages further exploration of the site, complete with colour variant suggestions.
There’s little to focus on but the shoes when it comes to Nike’s website, playing to the strength of the products above all else. This is done in part with a unique approach to imagery which displays their products from every angle, achieved with one large multi-panelled image.
Above the fold sizing and size guides keep the site convenient to use, with that particular element playing an even more important part in shoe sales compared to other fashion products. All of this means that customers learn more without having to click or navigate quite as much, meaning a shorter route to more sales.
Initially slow to make the conversion to online, H&M has recently shifted focus and transformed their web design to make product pages a lot more impactful. Their design has some similarities with their primary competitor, Zara. Colour variations and sizes are kept constant on the right side of the page, while more than half of the screen space is offered to big, high-quality photographs that the user can scroll through.
Product descriptions are tucked just below the fold, written with descriptive copy that helps the customer envision how products might look on them.
Seen by some commentators as the inheritor of Gap’s market, Uniqlo certainly shares a focus on quality basic everyday apparel items. The Japanese giant is now worldwide, propelled to success internationally by its relentless focus and clear identity. Differentiating from competitors with a price point somewhere between fast-fashion and premium brands, the retailer emphasises the technological innovation in its products, aiming to pitch them as durable and affordable yet clean cut and stylish.
The balance is nicely struck, and the retailer’s website manages to draw the eye with discounts in the bold brand red but retains a distinctive clean style with squares throughout and plenty of white space. The retailer grew revenues 3% both on and off-line.
The product pages on Next can seem a little dense at first glance, but that’s because the website does a lot to offer customers all the information they need at a single glance. All the essentials are kept above the fold, with drop down options for size, product variants, and colours.
Size guides and product descriptions are kept highly accessible, with no scrolling needed, just another click to open up that extra information. Local store availability checkers incorporate more buying options, giving customers a customisable buyer experience.
Launched as a pureplay online menswear retailer, Bonobos’ proposition is defined by the service element as much as by its products. In 2007, buying apparel online was much less ingrained as a consumer behaviour. To counter this, Bonobos delivered incredible customer service that other brands and retailers could or would not match. Even today, response times and customer satisfaction remains industry-leading.
A fast-growing retailer in the online space, Joules takes a unique approach with its incorporation of user-generated content. Not only are there reviews to reveal beneath the fold, but also information on how many people are viewing the store and even the number of times that any given item has been purchased.
This lends a sense of immediacy to the most popular products and an understanding of what’s trending with one look. FOMO is a powerful motivator in retail and Joules shows that capitalising on it can lead to great online success, shown in the retailer’s 17.6% revenue growth in the latter half of 2018.
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