Fashion is a huge part of everyone’s lives whether we realise the full extent of it or not. Every item in stores near you is selected by a team of buyers carefully taking into account trends and the preferred styles of their clientele.
With fashion taking up a huge part of all our lives it comes as no surprise that the fashion industry is HUGE! This industry is therefore extremely competitive but also incredibly lucrative. With the right tools and attitude it’s a simple market to enter.
So how can I compete in the fashion industry?
The answer to this question depends on how you present your brand, your products and the service you can offer your customers.
At the core of this answer therefore is your shop, the means by which you present yourself to your customers..
Nowadays all fashion stores will have an online offering of their store; it would be crazy not to. By having an online store, (in some cases as well as a traditional brick and mortar store), you are instantly creating an easily accessible avenue for your customers to reach you on.
This avenue can lead to increased revenue, market size and customer base, with better information and assistance given to your customers instantaneously, as well as providing you with a fantastic channel to market your brand and products from.
So where do I get started?
What is needed for your Online Shop?
There are various things to consider when creating your online shop, including…
- Ensuring that the design of the shop is attractive, functional and suited to your products and target market.
- Ensuring good quality images of your products to help promote them online.
Ideally you need an image of the product, (from different angles would be beneficial if applicable), an image of the same product being used and then an aspiration image of the product.
For example: If you are selling a t-shirt you should have one image of the t shirt from the front, one image of the t shirt from the back, one image of the t-shirt being worn and then a further image of the t-shirt in setting i.e. being worn by a model getting out of a taxi (should your target audience be urban fashion buyers).
- The ability to package the goods or services in the appropriate method and deliver them to the customer in an agreed time period.
- The ability to take payments online – via the setup and use of a payment service provider such as PayPal, Sage Pay or Apple Pay.
Sounds simple enough right?
Going back to my first bullet point about how you need to ensure that the design of your ecommerce store is attractive, functional and suited to your product and target market – this point alone is a minefield without some guidance.
Below you can find a complete breakdown on how to achieve this goal for your product and target market – enjoy!
An Attractive Website
Everyone is guilty of clicking on a website, seeing a poor design and clicking off – we all judge on first impressions. It is unfortunately human nature.
You need to make sure that your website is attractive instantly to the person entering your site. This includes ensuring that your branding is eye catching but consistent throughout the site – remember that someone may come to your website via a category page or indeed a product page, not just the home page. Each one of these ‘landing pages’ must be attractive.
For this you are going to need a good ecommerce designer. Do not engage a catalogue designer or a billboard designer – the elements needed for a good website design are extremely different to those needed in a billboard or newspaper advertisement. You need to look for a website designer who specialises in ecommerce web designs for best results.
Good imagery is very important here, as are the calls to action that enable the person who has landed on your site to quickly contact you or purchase what they want with as little fuss as possible.
A Functional Website
While the look of the site is very important, it also needs to be functional.
I don’t just mean working when I say functional either. Your website needs to be functional in the sense that it allows you to promote your product in the way that you want to promote it.
User experience of the website is very important, and not just for the user anymore. It is now considered to be very important to search engines that bring your customers to your website. A poor user experience and badly functioning website can see vital customers turn away from your website and see your rankings fall – why would you want this?
You need to think about the user pathways on your website when you are designing it. This needs to be at the forefront of your design process – mapping out the website or creating wireframes of your pages will help with this.
A Suitable Website
A suitable website can mean many things and certainly more than just the branding and imagery used being suitable for your target market.
Here I am referring to the fact that your website must allow you to do what you need to do with it. This largely comes down to the website platform that you use.
You must choose a solution that allows you to promote your website, products and brand online with all of the tools that you need to do this with. There is no point in having a website whereby you are unable to take payments, search for products or see images clearly. Suitability is key!
Many of the requirements for a successful ecommerce website are often not considered when a platform is selected. Mapping out the functionality needed for your website before choosing a website platform can save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Just some of the functionality for a suitable website can include…
- Ability to take payments easily online via several methods – PayPal, credit card, debit cards etc
- Ability to have many attributes for one product – for example the ability to have a product page for t shirt x but within that page to have the choice to choose which colour or attribute you want to purchase the t shirt in.
- Ability to change prices and apply discounts with ease
- Ability to run and manage customer loyalty schemes online, often needing customer account areas to do so
- Ability to zoom into product images for a closer view but also to see many on the same page
- Ability to easily add products, edit and remove them from a basket without too much fuss
- Ability to use the website easily no matter what device (desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile) is used. The user experience across all of these devices should be the same.
- Ability to search through products, filter the options and even compare with other products on sale.
- Ability to add and use functionality such as live chat for added customer support during the research or buying process
- For the website structure and platform to allow for it to be crawled easily by search engines to ensure that you get the ranking that you deserve and that your customers and potential customers can find you easily
Most importantly – the ability to expand with your business so that the website doesn’t hold back your offerings or capabilities.
The facts below provided by a top ecommerce provider, Magento, should confirm just how important having an attractive, functional and suitable website is.
- Competition is fierce and the bottom line is often defined by the appearance, usability and mobility of your website.
- 25% of your users abandon shopping carts due to complicated navigation, 21% due to the ordering process taking too long and 15% because the website session times out mid purchase.
- 25% of ecommerce sales will be conducted on mobile devices by 2017 and will continue to increase
(Source: Magento Blog)
What Platform should I be using for my Ecommerce Store?
To get the best of an attractive, functional and yet a suitable website for your growing fashion business there are a few ecommerce platforms to choose from.
Speaking from experience and looking at the vast number of fashion ecommerce stores out there, I have to say that your safest and best bet for an ecommerce solution has to be Magento.
Magento is a website platform designed specifically for ecommerce stores. They are used by a wide range of top ecommerce stores including Stella & Dot, Paul Smith, Gant and Beach Cafe. Simply check them out today to see what a Magento site can offer you.
More information on Magento Fashion ecommerce stores can be found at the Magento website.
Our team has a vast amount of experience when it comes to designing, building and maintaining Magento ecommerce stores and is sure to be able to assist you in taking your fashion business to the masses.