Fashion retailers have had to up their game to keep up with the ever-evolving demands of their customers. The online fashion consumer has become accustomed to a lifestyle that is 24/7, always on. It’s an expectation that they can see a look on the hottest A-listers (or reality star, let’s face it) one day, and be adding it to their shopping basket within the hour. This is the very definition of Fast Fashion. But who are these niche retailers, and what can you learn from them?
Through what can only be termed as a really challenging time for fashion retailers, we have seen a niche group of retailer reign triumphant – The Queens of Fast Fashion. I spent time looking at what these brands are doing to break the mould and continue to reinvent the online shopping customer experience.
Sassy styles, efficient delivery options, their very own culture and bang-on-trend branding make these retailers super desirable to the customer. Moving the customer expectation goalposts are a new evolution of digital brands like Missguided, Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing and the old faithful, ASOS.
However, it is far from a monopoly, there is market share there to be taken, and then maintained. You just have to exceed expectations and put your customer (and their customer, remember!) right at the centre of everything you do.
Lesson one. These fast fashion brands are always on, just like their customers are. This is reflected in their climbing profits and popularity. Missguided going as far as saying they are even more switched on than just fast fashion.
“We’re not just fast fashion, we’re rapid fashion.” – Missguided
I’m a well-seasoned shopper. I can safely say I’ve clocked up plenty of hours ‘research’ in the area. It’s clear that the success of these brands has a lot to do with the user experience.
Everyone in retail, fashion retailers or not, who has their finger on the pulse should be learning from these brands, so here’s where I come in. Your very own fashionista for rent, who comes armed with the lowdown on the very best experience throughout the customer journey.
SOCIAL ATTRACTION – FAST FASHION RETAILERS EXTEND THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY
Social media has moved the starting line of the customer journey and provided you with an extra chance to remind your customers that you are there, during their motive development stage. These reminders can be something as simple as posting on your branded social channels or you could go to utilise your affiliate connections.
I often spot something on a blogger’s Instagram and somehow finding a delivery at my door the next day.
A couple of years ago, it would take a good few hours of stalking through all the likely culprits to find the said item, these days rewardStyle has only encouraged my shopping addiction has made it so much easier to hunt down the item and purchase, in the space of 10 minutes. Terrifying, but brilliant.
LIKEtoKNOW.it is RewardStyle’s consumer facing, ready to shop content platform, making beautiful, original, and mobile-first influencer content actionable for millions of socially inspired shoppers worldwide. – LIKEtoKNOW.it
A while ago, I found myself scrolling through Instagram to come across Veeveevogue’s post of some denim espadrilles. Next thing I know I had liked the post, there was a LIKEtoKNOW.it email in my inbox that took me right to the product page on ASOS.
Next thing the shoes were in my basket.
I wish I could say this was a one-off, but it’s all too frequent and I know that I won’t be alone in this.
These digitally savvy brands have taken the time to find out exactly where their audience hang out, so it makes perfect sense to just casually drop in a few reminders.
HOWEVER, this not an excuse to spam your customers with absolutely everything and anything. You should be adding value to their day, not interrupting it.
INBOX OFFERINGS – FAST FASHION ENCOURAGING THE IMPULSE BUY
So many online brands ask for their customer’s email addresses, everybody else is doing it, so it makes sense, right?
Well, not exactly. If you have nothing worth offering your customer, you don’t have a right to be landing in their inbox.
Is it so unreasonable to assume in a customer centric focused era that there would be some kind of return for our attention?
Make sure your brand deserves to be there, and you will reap the benefits.
A few months ago, ASOS website and app were down for more than 12 hours. As expected, havoc ensued on social media with people speculating what was to blame.
The next day, trusty ASOS was back up and running and they followed up with an agile email with the quirky subject line – ‘Can we make it up to you?’
10% off everything not only served as an apology but also, return on attention. Nice save, ASOS.
THE HOMEPAGE ‘NEED TO KNOW’ – CREATING URGENCY
Ok, so after you’ve been lured in by their reminders on social and that email in your inbox, you’ve moved along the customer journey a little and find yourself around the research and selection stages. You land on their homepage and you’re faced with a big vibrant graphic and just under the navigation bar, there are multiple offers shown to you – ‘Free delivery ends in 29 minutes’, ‘20% student discount’, ‘Free Saturday delivery’ – since it is fast fashion, the offers are fast too, and if you’re not fast, you’re last.
These digital brands know that exclusivity isn’t ever going to be their unique selling point, so instead, they create an urgency. They understand their customer well enough to know they just can’t bear to see it go by without acting on it.
It’s also important to note that these fast fashion brands understand what brings customers to their site, convenience and simple access to current trends, so they then excel at this.
Without fully understanding your customer, how are you meant to work out their triggers?
You will be aware that knowing your customer is, needless to say, absolutely intrinsic to retail success, and if you’re not already segmenting and personalising your experience, you can get started here.
Put simply, play to your strengths.
FRONT ROW SEATS TO THE CATWALK – UTILISING USEFUL CONTENT
Online shopping is convenient, it can be done in your lunch hour, while commuting to work, at home or on the go. The thing about online shopping for clothes is that at all too often, at best you will have 4 or 5 photos to judge how something is going to look.
You need to go further than the generic 4/5 photo slideshow.
ASOS are a great example of a brand that has enriched the online shopping experience for their customers with useful content. They provide extra value in the form of a digital front row seat to the show, with their ‘Watch the Video’ feature.
The feature was launched back in 2006, and the retailer was the first to attempt it. Many have followed suit since, but that’s because it works.
ASOS appreciated that customers back in 2006 were still accustomed to buying at physical stores, so they looked to replicate this digitally. Customers wanted to get more of a feel for what a dress or skirt really looked like when it moved, before going ahead to make a purchase.
This is a prime example of content that adds value to the digital buying experience.
Appreciating and understanding what your customers want is one thing, actually delivering on this is another. If you can understand what they want from you, you can provide them with content that is useful, turning that click to a conversion.
ALL OF THE DELIVERY OPTIONS YOU COULD EVER NEED – CONVENIENCE
These digital brands have 1000s of new lines added every single week and all boast a plethora of delivery options. Next day, Evening Next day and even Sunday delivery are options at Missguided and ASOS.
They know that their customers want to place an order and have the physical goods in their hands as soon as possible, with as little fuss as possible. Convenience is key here.
Your customer could be deciding between you and a competitor for a really similar item. If your competitor can get it into their hands faster, why would they choose you? Identifying what is important to your customer is crucial when it comes to taking a share of the market and maintaining it.
ASOS PREMIER & ASOS A-LIST – THE EXTRA MILE FOR PURCHASE AND POST PURCHASE
When it comes to going the extra mile, ASOS is the one you ALWAYS need to be watching.
The brand has confirmed that next day delivery is a huge part of what their customers were seeking and therefore they offer a subscription to ASOS Premier, which is a one off yearly payment of £9.95 that gives the customer unlimited next-day delivery.
Last year the brand also launched ASOS A-List, their loyalty program. Customers can accumulate points that are converted into vouchers to spend on the site and the program offers a whole host of other perks like, 20% of on your birthday, 24-hour early access to sales and much more.
ASOS are saying that they value the customer for choosing to spend money their site (which is a big tick in my book) and secondly, they are tempting you back again with a money off voucher.
#SOCIAL POST PURCHASE – ‘SPREAD THE WORD FOR US’
Gone are the days where the user journey ends after the delivery parcel lands on your doorstep. These fast fashion brands have been with you every step of the way on the journey and you are guided to social, very possibly, back to where you started.
If you think about it, the ‘store windows’ of these digital brands are Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, so their customers’ User Generated Content is gold dust. Delivery notes and emails are littered with the hashtags #babesofmissguided, #WeAreUs and #AsSeenOnMe, to remind the customer to post on all of their favourite social platforms.
It’s 2017, and Instagram feeds are packed with selfies and ‘today I am wearing…’ so it would be foolish to not be capitalising on this. It essentially starts the cycle all over again…
The Lessons from Rapid Fashion: Get started right away!
These fast fashion brands have prospered in difficult times for a few reasons, and I firmly believe there are some quick-wins in their activity that any savvy retailer can put into play, regardless of what they’re selling. Here are a few action points that’ll have you reaping that revenue in no time:
Here are a few action points that’ll have you reaping that revenue in no time:
Before anything, understand your customers – I’m sure we have said this a million times before, but here it is one more time. If you don’t understand your customer, how do you expect to understand what they want? Make sure you are armed with as much information as possible.
Start by learning where they hang out and hang out there too – Pay attention to where your customers are, instead of interrupting their day with forceful repetitive ads. If they are on social, you NEED to be on social too and doing it damn well. They should come across you in the right places, like their favourite blogger’s page, rather than having it forced on them.
If your next touch-point is an email, give your customers Return on Attention – Is that email you are about to send going to serve no other purpose than spam in their inbox or does it truly offer the customer something? Give your customers value and value their attention. An email should be encouraging them to your site, after all, that’s why you bothered sending it? Right?
Optimise your homepage, make them stay – You did it. You got them to your homepage, now just to complete the journey. If you are imitating the professionals, here is where you tempt them with ‘limited’ next day delivery options, money off codes and exclusive discounts. Make them an offer that they can’t refuse.
ALL content has to be USEFUL CONTENT – Your customers have paid attention to you, so the least you can do is provide them with content that is useful, content that will help them decide whether to purchase or not. Don’t go losing them this late in the game.
Make sure you are going further than your competitors – This doesn’t have to be anything groundbreaking, you should aim to have a competitive advantage with one or two simple differentiating factors that make you the best option.
Finally, make sure they hit you up on social – This might just start the cycle all over again for another customer. Make sure you have a defining hashtag and begin to build that treasure trove of your customer’s UGC, you never know when it will come in handy. Competitions, brand awareness, increased ROA, branding opportunities, influencer endorsements, the possibilities are endless.
Obviously, there is no one size fits all approach, but you can take guidance from this ‘Best Practice Path’ inspired by the fast fashion leaders themselves. It’s as close to a recipe for success that any savvy retailer could hope for.