How to WOW your online fashion customers every step of the customer journey
Fashion is the most prolific sector within ecommerce both in revenue and in number of clients. These clients are experienced (mobile) ecommerce consumers with high expectations and demands of the webstores they decide to use. An exceptional online experience is absolutely essential for fashion brands. It is no longer just about the products, customers expect a flawless shopping experience. Fashion brands need to step up their game and awe their customers throughout the entire journey. But how exactly do you WOW your customers during every step of the customer journey?
Creating an in-store experience
Everyday it is getting important to offer online customers the best of both worlds, the customer service and the contact with the fashion items of brick & mortar and the convenience and pace of online shopping. By replicating an in-store shopping experience online, customers can receive real time personal advice and have an idea on how the item will look on them before buying it.
Many fashion brands offer their customers an amazing online experience to narrow the gap between offline and online shopping. ASOS has launched the 'See My Fit' feature that allows online shoppers to see what their clothing selection would look like on different body types. The feature is supported by augmented reality, it digitally maps the selected items on the different models. The customer is able to see the item on his/her personal body type, which makes the shopping experience easier and a lot more fun.
Another great example of creating an in-store experience is Omoda. The fashion accessories brand chose to continue to offer personal styling advice during the pandemic. Customers are given tailor-made styling advice by means of a virtual tour of the online store. Shoppers can schedule an online appointment and choose between Facetime, WhatsApp video calling, or Google Hangout. Omoda uses interactive technology operated by real people to surpass their customer's expectations.
Tory Burch distinguishes itself with its customer service. The Tory Burch customer service exists of genuine fashionistas. They are not just there to answer questions about a delivery, they really go the extra mile. The fashionistas of Tory Burch offer style advice and help customers find the right outfit for every occasion!
The added value of personalisation in fashion e-commerce
The pandemic not only caused unpredicted growth but also had an impact on customer loyalty. Fashion organisations need to re-engage the new shoppers and turn them into repeat customers. To do so it's very important to collect data about the individual customer to tailor website content to their preferences. It will help returning customers to find clothing, shoes, or accessories they like more quickly.
A great example of real-time personalisation is US app-based shopping platform The Yes. It offers the complete product catalogs of 145 fashion companies, ranging from mall brands to DTC players to even designer names. When a shopper designates a "yes" to a style they like, then similar products will immediately appear higher in their personal feed. By asking those who sign up to answer multiple questions, the Yes algorithm quickly learns about the wishes and needs of the customer. It will base content on the direct interaction the customer has with the catalogue.
Provide flexible payment and delivery options in the checkout
Online fashion shoppers have particular payment needs, they prefer to choose between different payment options while checking out. Global mainstream credit cards like American Express, Mastercard, and Visa are popular all around the world. They can be critical in countries like the UK as 90% of the consumers tend to make their online purchase via this payment method (PYMNTS.com/blog 2020). Fashion shoppers also drive broader payment trends for e-commerce such as digital wallets. Half of the fashion e-commerce shoppers already use digital wallets, with millennials and Gen Z leading the way.
Shipping options within checkout
What counts for payment options counts even more for delivery. Consumers will definitely not hesitate to take their business elsewhere if they can't find their preferred shipping option among your options. To reduce cart abandonment, it is important for fashion retailers to offer their customers the different choices they need during the checkout process.
At-home delivery is by far the most preferred delivery method for online fashion shoppers. Only offering home delivery won´t suffice though, pick-up & go and click-and-collect service are expected and requested as well. Free shipping is valued very highly by most online shoppers, even more than a lower price on a product. So if your organisation does not offer free shipping yet, we highly recommend doing so as soon as possible.
Branding & Personalisation make the delivery experience
While expectations of online fashion shoppers keep growing, it's the retailers task to keep up with them. Consumers enjoy when their customer experience is highly personalised, it makes online shopping easier and it creates the personal service they receive in offline stores. Also, personalisation in delivery is absolutely important to keep your customers satisfied.
Customers have the right and the need to be informed every step of the way. And they want to be informed by the brand they shopped from. The majority of fashion retailers still direct their customers to the carrier's standard track & trace page, a rude sudden disruption of the customer experience. More customer driven retailers and brands direct customers to a fully branded track & trace page, making this useful service part of the fully branded, uninterrupted customer experience.
The importance of outstanding packaging
Packing in e-commerce wasn't always as important, it used to be nothing more than a necessity, a cardboard box to protect the product (and its original well designed packaging) inside. Nowadays, the delivery experience is a key part of the entire ecommerce customer experience. A standard cardboard box is really a missed opportunity in branding and customer retention.
Packaging is a way fashion retailers can make themself stand out from the competition. It's also a big opportunity to wow your customers and to make the received product(s) feel even more special. It's a great way to promote your brand!
An example of a brand that takes its unboxing experience seriously is TrunkClub, a clothing subscription box company. Instead of choosing a standard card box, they created a custom printed box with a handle so it resembles a trunk. From the moment the trunk arrives at your front porch, you know it will be a great experience to unbox it. To make the brand experience even better, they put a handwritten card of a personal stylist explaining all the selected items in the box. This makes the unboxing experience even more memorable.
With the different expectations and preferences of consumers per country, it can be difficult to keep up with all of them. An external fulfillment service provider can help your brand meet all local customer expectations and wishes
Returns as a revenue generator
Returns are the new normal, it has become a part of the shopping experience. By far the most returns take place in the fashion e-commerce industry. Of all clothing and shoes, more than 56% are returned global. The return percentage for accessories is lower, amounting to 30%. In response to these (still increasing) return volumes, e-commerce organisations need to add people, save warehouse space, and establish departments to process these reverse logistics. But the returns aren´t only bad. By how you deal with returns before and after purchase can differentiate your business from competitors, and it can even be a revenue generator.
An example of using returns as a revenue generator is Zappos, an Amazon company. It was one of the first companies which offered a 365-day, free two-way shipping, and return policy. Zappos is popularizing a new business model which allows customers to try on products at home with no upfront costs. They practically invite their customers to order the shoes, try them at home, and send them back if they are not happy about it. The executives of Zappos say with pride that their customer service is the new marketing and their return policy is a revenue generator. Zappos' best customers have the highest return rates, but they are also the ones who spend the most money and are the most profitable returning customers.
Retain customers by prioritizing customer service
In order to take advantage of loyal customers, you want to give them the best shopping experience possible. It's important that you don't underestimate the power that interacting with your customers has on your business. Research has shown that 51% of the customers will never do business with a company again after one negative experience. So, in order to help and advise your customers in the best way possible, your customer service agents need to have a wide range of knowledge and empathy. They need to show the tone of voice that perfectly reflects your brand.
H&M is widely known for its customer loyalty program. Their membership program ticks all the boxes, it is a perfect blend of transactional benefits and community-driven experiences. The H&M customers earn one point for every $1 they spend. After spending $200 and earning 200 points, the customers receive a $5 coupon which they can spend online and offline. New members receive a $10 discount as a welcome gift and even more incredible discounts later on. Also, H&M members have access to free online returns, insider shopping events, and special birthday offers. A loyalty program that many organizations can take as an example.
Did you know that existing customers nearly spend 70% more than new customers do? For this reason alone, creating loyal customers is so important for your business. It doesn't matter if you're small or big, building an emotional connection with your customers through engagement is the way to grow. And loyalty programs will help you provide motivations for your buyers to come back, create accounts and spend even more money.