What is fashion? We aren’t about to indulge in pages of philosophizing or link to the David Bowie song, so for our purposes we’ll say it’s…

  • Visual
  • Seasonal
  • Dependent on fit and context
  • Highly socially influenced

While there’s so much more we could add to this list, these four simple descriptions will take us a long way towards developing an impressive and effective brand advocacy strategy for any fashion site. Here are our top four picks for social commerce and customer loyalty ecommerce enhancements for apparel.

Let’s start with the most obvious: apparel’s highly visual nature makes it a perfect fit for visual commerce. Since clothes can vary so much depending on the wearer and the context, it’s useful to show shoppers all the different ways they can wear your products. And sometimes the people showing off in Instagram pictures are more influential than your models. We know that Kylie Jenner or a bunch of bloggers can make a dress sell out instantly.

 

Delia's visual commerce dedicated gallery page.

Delia’s visual commerce dedicated gallery page.

 

Lest they get distracted, your audience will immediately know exactly which products they’re viewing, as long as your visual commerce solution has dynamic product association.

Dynamic product association on Alloy's visual commerce solution.

Dynamic product association on Alloy’s visual commerce solution.

 

The seasonal aspect of the apparel industry means that customer loyalty can also be extremely lucrative for your business. Billions of people need different clothing as the weather changes, and a slightly smaller percentage yearn to switch up their wardrobes as fashion and their personalities dictate. According to IMRG UK, around 50% of British 16-24 year-olds buy clothes online more than once a month.

The Atlantic notes that clothing shopping is an “endlessly available entertainment” that “exists as a constant presence, much like social media.” There’s a complex neurological component to it that rewards not just the pleasure of looking and acquiring, but also the satisfaction of getting a deal. What better way to maximize these natural responses than to reward customers for shopping frequently, getting them closer and closer to a bargain?

 

Styles for Less's loyalty landing page

Styles for Less’s loyalty landing page

 

It’s obvious that apparel is rapidly growing in the online sector. Ecommerce clothing sales grew roughly 16% from 2014-2015 and are expected to reach about $86 billion by 2018.  With that said, ratings and reviews are a perfect fit for sites, where shoppers can’t immediately try on clothes. Women’s clothing in particular varies a lot in fit. Speaking from personal experience, it can be challenging to find the right look online when one doesn’t look like the clothing models. Beyond that, reviews speak to quality, which is harder to discern online. To summarize this point, GFK MRI found that 68% of millennials typically read online reviews before purchasing a product.

 

Ratings and reviews on Unique Vintage tell shoppers about fit, context, and quality.

Ratings and reviews on Unique Vintage tell shoppers about fit, context, and quality.

 

Finally, the social component of apparel means that brands gain an advantage through word-of-mouth marketing and a strong social media presence. This means that sharing and referrals, and particularly post-purchase sharing, are marketing musts. While referral tools are also helpful, post-purchase sharing creates a particular social incentive by stating, “Look at what I bought,” rather than, “Look at this store.” When friends and followers on social media see the exact purchase that someone influential made, they have a more concrete reason to click the link and buy the same thing.

 

Post-purchase sharing lets customers share the specific items they bought with their friends.

Post-purchase sharing lets customers share the specific items they bought with their friends.

 

We have so many more vertical-specific recommendations, both for apparel and dozens of other segments. Check back soon for another post!

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