If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that fashion retailers need to improve their online presence. It’s no longer a box to tick, nor a one-and-done project (if that was ever the case to begin with), yet is something central to the success of your business. Surprisingly, many retailers — pure play e-commerce vendors as well as traditional brick and mortar merchants — still don’t devote adequate resources to their digital user experience. Customers gravitate to retailers who make shopping easy and enjoyable, so neglecting those very factors are to your detriment and can sap your company of the growth it deserves. Here are some tips on how to avoid that.
1. Recognize That UX/CX Is a Core Business Competency
If you come from a background in traditional retail you know this already, though you may not think of it in those terms. Remember all those years researching how to merchandise your aisles and set up a display window to maximum effect? Your user/customer experience is the digital equivalent.
While traditional merchandising has been an unquestioned core competency for traditional retailers, the digital user experience hasn't been universally given the same level of respect. That must change. If you still think of digital as the future of retail, wake up and smell the silicon: it’s already here.
2. Make Your Site Search Stellar
How good is your on-site search? Good chance it’s not as good as you think it is. An e-commerce site search study published by the Baymard Institute in 2020 showed that even top e-commerce sites struggled to handle many kinds of queries, with failure rates in most categories ranging from around 30 percent to as high as 70 percent. Even in explicit searches for an exact product known to be available on the site, site search failed to find the correct result almost 30 percent of the time.
Getting it wrong is costing you money. For one thing, conversion rates from on-site search tend to be higher than for on-site browsing or general SEO. Shoppers who come to your site for something specific are motivated to buy, and you should be helping them to the best of your ability. The success of on-site searches will also play a large role in determining whether your customer is satisfied or dissatisfied with your site and your brand.
We’ve previously looked at site search here and here; this is more information you can draw upon to help improve the state of yours.
3. Drill Down on Your Abandonment Statistics
What percentage of your site’s visitors leave without putting anything in their cart? How many do put something in their cart, yet never complete the purchase? The Baymard Institute maintains a list of studies on cart abandonment from a range of industry sources: at the time of this writing, the running average from nearly a decade of these studies stands at 69.8 percent.
Baymard aggregated those stats in the course of its own research into cart abandonment. The institute’s testing points squarely to flaws in the UX as the major factor driving that statistic. Of the 60 top e-commerce sites studied, the average ranking for the cart and checkout experience was “mediocre.” Collecting and analyzing the data on your own site’s abandonment stats can provide you with the information you need to drill down, and discover the “pain points” that cause your customers to give up without making a purchase.
Baymard concluded that the average site’s checkout process needed 39 separate, unique improvements in order to maximize its efficiency. The good news? The same research projected an improvement of over 35 percent in conversion rate for sites making the necessary refinements.
4. Be Mobile-Forward in Your Design
As recently as 2017, only about a third of all e-commerce purchases originated on a mobile device. In 2021, Statista projects that they’ll handily top 50 percent of all purchases. Your ability to capture a share of that spending will depend largely on how well you’ve optimized your site for mobile viewing and search. If your search for digital experience solutions hasn’t had a strong emphasis on mobile, that shortcoming must be addressed.
Unsurprisingly, we know that product data will become more critical for designing these experiences. The Baymard Institute has studied this as well and has a number of recommendations — such as thematic browsing to help shoppers find products by usage or other subjective style criteria, rather than basic product attributes — to improve your mobile UX.
5. Make Your Product Pages Stand Out
Amazon’s marketplace (and competitors elsewhere) is filled with third-party vendors offering interchangeable products from the same suppliers, and their product descriptions mostly contain the same generic copy. If you’re using similar copy — or worse, bore the cost of writing your own product pages only to end up with something equally generic — you will struggle to differentiate yourself from the pack.
The internet is filled with examples of good and bad product pages. Industry-specific players including Econsultancy, BigCommerce and marketing guru Neil Patel all offer insights into the principles that make a product page work. Choose examples that resonate with you (and that you have the resources to implement) and get to work.
6. Look Past Basic Demographics
Old-school demographic segmenting (e.g., “suburban soccer mom 25-39”) has long since reached its limits in e-commerce. Those basic, broad-brushstroke categories were hot stuff in the Mad Men era, but they won’t help you reach the level of personalization and bespoke suggestions that contemporary shoppers expect. A 2020 survey conducted by Deloitte found that 39 percent of respondents felt the suggestions they’d gotten online were unhelpful, and 56 percent weren’t especially happy about companies using their information to deliver that degree of personalization.
The common thread between those two responses is a failure of execution. Well-executed personalization is imperceptible to the customer — they’ll simply know that they’ve found what they wanted. Poorly executed personalization comes off as clumsy and ineffective at best, or downright creepy at worst. Either way, you’ll lose to nimbler, better-equipped competitors.
7. Leverage Lily AI to Maximize Your Potential
The other kind is what marketing firm Gartner describes as implicit data: the kind you can infer from shoppers’ interactions with your site. Not only is implicit data relatively immune to current or future privacy legislation, it can deliver much deeper insights which, in turn, allow you to deliver truly world-class personalization.
It takes a lot of raw data and carefully constructed algorithms to harness implicit data on your site. Generating that raw data is a crucial hurdle for most e-commerce fashion retailers, especially newer or smaller ones. It can come from two directions: either acquiring a very significant number of site visitors; and from creating a very significant number of data points to better analyze what consumers engage with. Only the second of those is entirely under your control, and that’s what Lily AI brings to the table.
Lily AI and the Digital User Experience
Lily AI’s proprietary algorithm uses lessons learned from the industry’s largest training database to apply deep tagging to your inventory. Instead of just a handful of attributes — e.g., size, style, color, garment type, fabric type — our algorithm generates dozens of subjective and objective attributes for each item in your inventory.
This creates a world of new opportunities for fashion retailers. For one thing, it will make your site more efficient in exactly the kind of themed searches (“fun, flirty spring skirt”) that most sites struggle with. More importantly, because it generates so many data points about each garment, the algorithm can quickly recognize the emotional underpinnings that drive a shopper’s searches and clicks (even when they’re anonymous). That unprecedented level of psychological insight is how you’ll give your shoppers a “found exactly what I was looking for” experience, every time.
Contact us today to request a demonstration, and find out how we can revolutionize the shopping experience for your customers in just a few short weeks.
Baymard Institute - Deconstructing E-Commerce Search: The 8 Most Common Query Types
MOZ - SEO Has a Younger Sibling: It’s On-Site Search, and It Deserves Attention
Baymard Institute - 44 Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics
Baymard Institute - Cart & Checkout UX
Statista - US Mobile Retail Commerce Sales as Percentage of Retail E-Commerce Sales from 2017 to 2021
Baymard Institute - The State of Mobile E-Commerce Search and Category Navigation
Econsultancy - 10 Examples of Effective Ecommerce Product Pages
BigCommerce - How 29 Sites Built the Perfect Ecommerce Product Pages (Best Practices and Examples You can Steal)
Neil Patel - Seven Tips for Creating Killer Product Pages
Deloitte - Failure of Personalization
Gartner - How Brands Can Personalize at Scale