So you are keen on starting an online boutique!
Starting an online clothing store has elements and approach which is quite close to any other ecommerce store. However, there are few factors which make starting and running an online clothing store a different challenge to address.
As per a report by HookLogic 60 percent of apparel shoppers chose product images as a top three influence on purchase, which is 1.5 times the average across other categories. Product images are of utmost importance when you are selling apparel online. Product images have a bigger influence on purchase decisions when it comes to apparel as compared to books, toys or gadgets. A good product photo is a combination of story telling, lighting, model presence and detailing.
- Tell stories – Your product image should show how exactly your clothing fits in with everyday lifestyle. If you are selling formal wear you might have a pic wherein the model is part of a business meeting. Selling summer fashion outdoor photography by the beach will be more appealing.
- Lighting – Lighting is critical. The right lighting reflects he right color of the product. It is important for the user to get the right color and fabric of the apparel.
- Detailing – Users should be given an option to zoom in to the product to check out the texture of the fabric. This will eliminate the drawback of feeling the fabric in offline context to an extent.
- Edit your pics – Editing is a critical aspect. Shadows, exposure and manipulating angles give the product the much needed extra appeal.
- Angles – Multiple angle of model shoot gives users a 360 degree view of the product. It gives them a closer perspective on the product.
Forever21.com shows multiple angles of the dress including closeups on the design for the user to get a close view of the product.
Use Sizing Charts
When it comes to clothing, size is the most critical aspect. Misinformed sizing can lead to lot of product returns and customer disappointments and revenue loss for your business. If you are serving an international audience the way people understand size in UK might be much different from the way people understand size in Australia. You must have a sizing chart which eliminates all such disparities. You can even go to an extent of mentioning exact length of the collar, shoulder or hip in inches to give the user an understanding of how large is L actually and how small is S in real. Bonobo elucidates this via clean size chart below. The same is placed on all relevant product pages.
Size charts should be mentioned on the product page within close proximity to the size select feature. This will help users use it before they make a decision.
Freepeople.com goes a step further and gives more power to the user.
- It tells the user how to measure size of their waist, shoulder, bust and hips.
- The user can switch the size chart between centimeters and inches based on what the user finds most comfort in.
- It displays size charts for each dress type.
- Clothing sizes might leave few users with many questions. For such users it places an email and phone number in case they need help.
- The sizing chart is placed as a pop up on each product page for easy access of user without a need to leave the page.
Educate your customer about the apparel
Great copy can convert users and bring in tons of SEO traffic. If you are selling plain t-shirts you might not have much to talk about the product but if you are that retailer who has put in lot of effort in the stitch, fabric, dye and color you might want to boast about it to your audience. The product page influences buying decisions and should be used to provide relevant and useful information about the product. You must have the following aspects mentioned on your product page.
- Product Description – A list of all benefits of the product and why is is really cool. The copy must be in a tone which is familiar with your audience.
- Directions for wash – Clothes need to be cared for. Your customer should know what kind of wash is right. Mentioning this upfront is your responsibility.
- Sizing guide – The right fit is often one of the biggest concern when buying online. A definitive sizing guide can fight friction, frustration and returns.
- FAQ – Your customer might have multiple questions regarding texture, color, design and seasonality. These common questions could be addressed with a small FAQ section within the page.
Get your shipping and return policies right
Shipping Policy – Is the product shipped for free? Does it ship internationally? Can the user try before she buys? What are the various shipping options you provide to the customer? How long does it take for you to delivery the product to the customer location once the order is placed? As an ecommerce entrepreneur these aspects have to be thought over an communicated to the consumer upfront to set customer expectations right.
Return policy – While buying clothing online “What I see is NOT what I may get” is a persistent fear in the mind of a consumer.With clothing there is always a degree of uncertainty in the mind of the buyer since he or she is not using the trial room as in the case of an offline experience. Having an option to return will help customers overcome the fear of wrong fit, color and fabric. You can fight this friction by offering users an option for a return or an exchange. This can instill buyer confidence in the consumer.
Refunds Policy – On what conditions do you initiate a refund? What if the clothes returned by the user has been inked or torn? Since apparel have a limited time before they perish and potential damage with every use you must be clear about your refund policy while selling clothes online. You should not take a customer mistake as a business loss.
Leverage Social Media To Promote Fashion
Clothing has a close affinity to a person’s identity and personality. People like showing off their cool look in their new attire. You can encourage tagging among your current customer base and give away free gift vouchers to everyone who shares. You can even give discounted pricing for users who tweet your online store URL to their friends.
Cathkidston curates a shopping gallery using it’s customer instagram photos. This encourages more participation among it’s users and builds the brand’s social presence on Instagram.
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- Social Commerce and it’s future in online retail
- Twitter Marketing for ecommerce websites
- Ultimate Guide To Pinterest Marketing for ecommerce websites
Differentiate your business and products
With starting an online store happening within few clicks of a button there are numerous players trying to get their share in the online clothing business. Competition is cut throat and with big players like Amazon, Macys and Ebay capable of giving deep discounts of a range pf products it has become all the more important for clothing store owners to innovate both with product and strategy. Few ways you can differentiate are
- Selling custom goods with core focus on core audience segment. Examples – Printed School hoodies, B2B t-shirt selling, wedding dresses for rent.
- Focusing on one social platform like Pinterest and churning maximum sales through it. See buyable pins.
- Selling products from home grown artists rather than big brands.
- Providing online support like no other clothing company in the world.
Chose an appropriate theme
Not all ecommerce themes are the same. An ecommerce theme which is designed to sell clothing will have large imagery, clean layout, faceted navigation, search bar, sorting options and a product page which is suited to display product images with significant size. Most ecommerce platforms have plethora of themes in clothing category. Make sure you pick a theme within this as theme builders usually build themes targeting a certain audience and industry. Pick your theme after checking if it passes these criteria.