It is astonishing how the internet and the fashion industry have affected each other through the years. Internet not only bridges barriers between international and intercultural trends, provides the means to explore new media and materials and gives space for collaboration, but it also makes the financial process of selling the garment much easier.
It is not surprising that apparel is almost always one of the hottest selling product categories in online retail regardless of the geographical market. In India, online sales trends from 2014 show that apparel accounted for around 14% of the net online retail market, just lagging behind electronics, which captured a 15% share. With the Indian e-commerce industry touching the $20 billion figure, these percentages become colossal.
Thus, the online apparel retail industry is surely bustling. But this also means that there are thousands of sellers trying to one-up each other within this market. There is cutthroat competition. At the same time, the key point in online retail is to understand that the system is built in such a way that it inculcates a short attention span for the customer. Webpages and apps have to provide a gigantic amount of information – the feel of the fabric, the color, sizes, what would the purse go well with? – all in the space of one screen.
If one scrolls down a webpage of an online apparel retail shop, looking at thumbnails of about 25 items in a few seconds, the same process would require at least fifteen minutes in a physical shop. In my opinion, it is this process of what information to provide to the customer and how, that is a bigger challenge than the competition. Let us talk a little more about this.
What to Think About While Selling Clothes Online
Give Your Customer Options
There are a few things that a physical shop provides that are utterly impossible to replicate in a virtual store – the feel of the space, the option to touch and try the fabric, etc. At the same time, there are a few things that can be provided solely by a virtual store – most importantly, variety. Your online store must have a large variety to choose from, because it is extremely frustrating to search for a category on a sales channel and find only three results. Use a multi-channel inventory management system like Browntape to make sure that your product listings are always up-to-date.
Providing Information about the Product
This is where the real crux of online marketing lies. When a customer tries on a product in a physical store, there is so much knowledge about the product that they gain without it having to be quantified – How does the fabric feel against my skin? Will I be comfortable wearing these shoes the whole day? Is this shirt a little too tight? Does this dress make me look fat? etc.
The challenge against someone designing a website for an apparel store is to try and convey this information visually. For example, every time you choose a product on LimeRoad, the women’s online shopping brand, it gives you a detailed size chart, in-depth product information, and also features a cleverly designed algorithm that gives you more suggestions according to the colour or style of the product that you’ve chosen. Two years ago, Myntra acquired the San Francisco-based technology solutions firm, Fitiquette that specialises in creating a virtual fitting room experience.
Find Your Niche
Clothing is perhaps one of the most personal of our belongings. The directly reflect who we are, our values, our belief systems and our personalities. It is no wonder that many clothing brands too have successfully manage to create personalities for themselves. It is somewhat similar with online apparel retail stores.
For example, while Myntra and Yepme have tried to consolidate almost everything into their shopping space, a site like LimeRoad focuses on ethnic apparel and accessories for women. At the other end of the spectrum, a site like Happily Unmarried projects itself as a fun, humorous brand that should not be taken seriously. Finding your niche helps you to narrow down on various decisions about your online shop, from branding to product selection.
Be a Trendsetter
This can best be exemplified by Myntra’s approach towards online retail of apparel. Not only is Myntra constantly advertising its brand as a trendsetter in terms of popular fashion, it is also taking the initiative to approach the customer through its app and helping them make fashion-related decisions. It is this assistance that becomes valuable in terms of its brand identity.
Parallelly, there are brands like Mr.Button that give you the full scope of customization and the charm of tailored fitting with the online experience. The idea is to not limit apparel shopping into just a transaction. Although on the surface online shopping seems like something that is done within a very constricted, personal space – on our smartphones, for example, it is a very social activity. This has to be recognised.
Back to Basics
Finally, a word of advice that stands true for all online sellers, regardless of the category you are selling your product in – nothing beats good order management and customer service when it comes to online retail. Be creative when it comes to the returns policy, make sure to squeeze out bottlenecks from the delivery process and make it more efficient by using an order management system.
In case of any queries or for more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading e-commerce solutions experts, and we are always happy to help!
Browntape helps retailers sell online on multiple marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc. in India. They provide services and software that allow retailers to either outsource their online selling business or manage things on their own using their innovative inventory and order management software. In addition to that, they also help sellers improve their customer experience.
Source: Browntape Blog