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Top tips: E-fashion merchandising: How to win new customers and sell more

Caroline Hey, Director International Business at search and navigation specialist FACT-Finder, looks at e-fashion merchandising and how brands can learn a thing or two from leading fashion stores when it comes to merchandising measures aimed at increasing customer satisfaction, conversion rate and average basket size. She offers 6 tips and tricks that have already been adopted by leading fashion brands like Esprit, Hessnatur, and SportScheck and outlines how to make them work for your online store.

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Shop windows, themed sections, discount stands, targeted merchandising is an indispensable part of fashion commerce. It allows retailers not only to present precisely selected products but also to inspire indecisive customers, guide in the store and promote a combination of products.

Of course, these goals are already considered of great importance in ecommerce and have been for a long time, but we can learn a thing or two from leading fashion stores when it comes to which merchandising measures are most appropriate in terms of increasing customer satisfaction, conversion rate and average basket size. Here’s a few tips and tricks to keep in mind:

1. Emphasize special products in the suggest feature

It is vital that visitors to your online shop can quickly and easily find their way around your assortment and have no difficulties in finding what they are looking for. Therefore, most online shops use a suggest feature, which auto-completes keywords typed into a search box. Those who use the suggest feature as a place to stop customers, benefit from strong merchandising leverage. For example, the search solution can be configured so that bestsellers, advertised articles, new or high-margin products are displayed first.

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Intelligent product placement: By displaying best-selling products via its ‘Suggest’ function, Esprit increases the probability of purchase

2. Influence which search results appear first

The search result products that a customer sees first should not only fit the image of your online store and sales strategy, but also the expectations of your customers. For example, if you are known for the quality of your products, it is preferable if you show high-quality goods with positive customer reviews – not necessarily the cheapest products. The opposite is true if your online store is well-known for its low prices. Influencing the ranking is quite simple; e.g. to display discounted products first, you need to rank down all the products in the backend that aren’t discounted.

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“Pushed products” at German fashion retailer Hessnatur; new and discounted items appear at the top of the search results to accelerate sales of certain products

3. Create emotional incentives with “Theme Worlds”

According to a 2013 study carried out by E-Commerce Center Cologne, 80% of consumers demand an inspiring presentation of the products on offer when it comes to ecommerce. Furthermore, 54% state that they buy more than planned when the product presentation is particularly attractive. Thus, being inspired is an important customer need, especially for indecisive visitors.

Online retailers can meet this demand by creating event-related categories. These so-called “Theme Worlds” can incorporate all possible products, from trousers and shirts, to accessories and underwear. Examples could be: “Autumn Collection 2014”, “Must-haves for a beach holiday”, “Halloween Party” or “Business Look”.

And the imagination of online sellers does not have to be limited when it comes to finding new theme worlds. Theme worlds which meet the customer’s interest and motivate them to browse, is what every online shop needs. That way, improving conversion rate and cross selling too.

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Displaying a wide selection of products and still quickly finding the right thing. With theme worlds such as “Business Look”, Mytheresa.com creates a pleasing shopping experience for customers

4. Create landing pages for visitors coming from Google

To increase visitor numbers, almost every fashion shop will invest in SEO and SEA. Although, those wanting to take it one step further will create an individual landing page for the most important keywords in order to adjust to customers’ expectations. It is important that online sellers guide their potential customers quickly and easily to the right place – with the help of a clear structure, concise wording and eye-catching call-to-actions. In many cases, loss of time means loss of a customer. To keep the manual effort as low as possible, you should invest in a tool that automatically displays the right banners and products depending on the landing page.

For example, online outlet dress-for-less attracts Google users who are looking for a jacket, with a specially prepared sales landing page:

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Keyword-specific landing pages help to turn visitors, who visit the shop by SEM campaigns, into paying customers

5. Show alternative and additional articles in the right place

Of course, for any business to succeed it is important that as many shop visitors as possible end up buying something. But what is also crucial to success is the average order size. By offering your customers both suitable additional recommendations and alternative products with a high profit margin on your product detail pages, you increase your chances of cross-selling and up-selling. Ideally, you should show the combination of items already in the preview.

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By displaying matching additional items, fashion stores can increase the average order size.

High-margin products should also be offered as alternative products

Another way to ensure full baskets is the outfit view, where all of the products from one look are displayed on a product detail page. What’s the difference between “classical” recommendations? Customers are able to select the appropriate size and place items directly in the cart without opening a new product page.

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See at a glance what suits: Thanks to the Outfit-view, customers put more products into their shopping carts with one click

6. Provide customers with the feeling of comfort through advisory campaigns

Traditional sales people are usually well trained in finding out their customers’ wishes through targeted questions. This can also be implemented in an online shop through advisory campaigns. These campaigns lead the shop visitors on the basis of relevant questions in the shortest possible time to a small selection of products that precisely meet their wishes. In this way, for example, SportScheck customers can easily find the best running shoes:

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By answering a few questions, customers restrict what could have been a broad range of products to the most relevant results – and have a good feeling when buying

By Caroline Hey
Director International Business
FACT-Finder

http://www.fact-finder.com/

About the Author

Caroline Hey, Director International Business, FACT-Finder

Caroline Hey has been working for FACT-Finder within the international business department for more than two years now. She is responsible for the international business in general and coordinates with her team the work throughout the countries FACT-Finder is active in. Caroline herself especially focuses on the UK and follows the latest trends of Europe’s number one eCommerce market.

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