Digital offers the greatest area of opportunity for fashion retailers

Digital offers the greatest area of opportunity for fashion retailers

Online fashion sales appear to be on an upward trajectory, generating GBP16.2bn (US$22bn) in 2017 and expected to jump 79% by 2022. Here we set out six areas for retailers to focus on over the next year if they want to grow their presence digitally.

With a recent poll by the Confederation of British Industry finding 50% of retailers had experienced a drop in in-store sales, it's clear that digital offers the greatest area of opportunity for fashion retailers.

A new white paper entitled 'Fast-paced Fashion: The Digital Forecast 2018' from Mediaworks identifies six areas for fashion retailers to focus on over the next 12 months and explores what each will mean for their business.

#1: Enhancing the user experience through smartphones
We can't go long without using our smartphones, with the average person tapping their screen over 2,600 times per day. Not only can mobile readiness help retailers capture a greater share of online sales, it can also boost in-store performance. 76% of people visit a business after a product search on a smartphone. Nearly a third results in a conversion.

If your brand is not up to speed with meeting consumer requirements, such as a mobile-friendly website or app that enhances the user experience, you could be losing customers as a result. For those that do already, the priority becomes refining and building this mobile presence to deliver a superior user experience. Consider creating an app to diversify your brand, use conversion rate optimisation to improve the user journey and further your mobile presence through social ads.

#2: Personalising the consumer journey
Cost and quality of a product are both at the forefront of a consumer's mind when shopping but, by 2020, consumer experience will be the deciding factor on whether to purchase from a brand. This can be done through journey personalisation, which essentially helps you deliver an in-store experience online.

Advancements in technology are something that you should not shy away from – think augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR), which could help develop changes such as virtual changing rooms. Artificial intelligence (AI) and understanding customer preferences and habits will also be important.

#3: The rise of voice search
With technology such as the Amazon Echo being introduced, more voice searches are being carried out than ever before – accounting for 40% of all searches. This is a result of its falling error rate (8% down from 20%), the growth of mobile devices and the rise of personalisation.

To keep on top of voice searches, content should be optimised around long-tail search phrases to ensure that your brand can deliver the most appropriate result. Review your existing content's style, format and flow. Also consider implementing visual search, something retailers like John Lewis and Boohoo.com are already experimenting with.

#4: Using customer information for retention
To have ensured a successful digital marketing campaign in the past, brands were reliant on having a clear understanding of what their customers wanted. In the near future, customers will become more willing to share data, which retailers can use to build a more comprehensive data model.

With information such as consumer purchase history and their feedback, methods can be adapted to help encourage more sales for the brand. Likewise, unify your online and offline efforts through local inventory ads.

#5: How GDPR will impact retailers collecting data
With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) being introduced in May with aims to strengthen data usage across Europe, fashion brands must take notes. A key process will be transitioning from segment-based to signal-based data, which will ultimately help you gain greater visibility of the success your digital marketing strategy is delivering.

Using data, brands must begin to prioritise contextual marketing when it comes to promoting products and services around specific times.

#6: How does attribution look for your business?
In terms of marketing success, 90% of advertisers believe that attribution is a key factor. Fewer than 27% of marketers use multi-touch attribution models, which can help you properly attribute value across devices and channels. When looking at the purchasing funnel of your business, does the attribution model you currently have provide value?

About the author: Georgie White is a copywriter at digital marketing agency Mediaworks, where he writes unique content for a range of clients from all different industries.