Apparel has long presented sizable business opportunities in the United States. And with the advent of the internet, today’s apparel brands can reach more clothing-hungry consumers than ever before via online sales. (Take it from us here at Brandon. We’ve been helping apparel brands such as Southern Tide, Fish Hippie, The Normal Brand, Over Under, Madison Creek Outfitters, Heybo, Southern Point Co. and more sell their clothing lines online and in stores for over 15 years — and the internet has created amazing opportunities for brand growth and added revenues.)
Need more proof of the profit-driving power of e-commerce for apparel brands? Consider this: For the last five years, sales of apparel, footwear and accessories have represented more than 20% of total retail e-commerce sales in the U.S. Further, e-commerce retail revenues in the category are on track to top $207 billion nationwide in 2023 — and are projected to soar to over $300 billion by 2027.
But to maximize its piece of the pie, any apparel brand looking to find online-sales success must employ the right tactics and strategies to stay ahead of the competition. Is your apparel brand seizing all the right opportunities and taking all the right avenues to step up its online-sales success? Consider this checklist of today’s top e-commerce tactics and strategies from the apparel-marketing experts at Brandon:
1. Choose the right e-comm platform
Modern e-commerce brands have a long list of choices when it comes to which e-comm platform they’ll use, and the decision is an important one that can directly impact the brand’s success and growth. A well-suited e-commerce platform offers a user-friendly interface that enhances the overall shopping experience, making it easier for customers to browse and purchase your apparel offerings. To streamline operations, it should also provide robust inventory management, order processing, and payment gateway integration.
In addition, your platform of choice should support responsive design, ensuring your website looks good and functions seamlessly across the full range of consumers’ devices, including mobile phones, tablets, and desktops. And a good e-commerce platform offers a range of customization options, allowing you to tailor your online store to match your apparel brand’s unique identity. Lastly, the right platform will facilitate SEO optimization, making it easier for your apparel offerings to appear in search engine results and help you implement effective digital marketing strategies.
2. Develop your branding strategy
Especially for those in the apparel industry, the brand is the heart and soul of the business — and it goes far beyond just a brand name, a tagline and a logo. A well-defined branding strategy sets the tone for your apparel line, establishing a unique identity that resonates with your target audience. A strong branding strategy also helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace, making your brand’s apparel more memorable and recognizable to your target consumers. Additionally, it helps you communicate your brand’s values, mission and story effectively, helping you establish an emotional connection with consumers that can drive engagement and build long-lasting relationships. Further, maintaining a consistent brand image across all marketing channels — from your website and social media to packaging, advertising and more — reinforces your brand’s credibility. (And ultimately, a well-executed branding strategy and quality product can support premium pricing.)
Looking for more guidance on developing a solid branding strategy for your apparel brand? Check out our blog article titled “12 Essential Steps to Developing a Business-Boosting Brand Strategy.”
3. Ensure smooth and simple e-store navigation
A user-friendly and intuitive website is the cornerstone of a successful e-commerce strategy. When customers visit your online store, they expect a seamless and efficient shopping experience. If your website is difficult to navigate, cluttered or confusing, it can deter potential buyers and lead to high bounce rates. Alternatively, an easily navigable online store enhances the customer journey, making it nearly effortless for consumers to find the apparel they desire. It also encourages them to further explore your product offerings, increasing their likelihood of conversion.
Clear and logical navigation menus, search functionality and well-organized product categories all play important roles in delivering a positive shopping experience to customers. And when shoppers can easily locate items, view product details and complete the checkout process without hassles and frustrations, they are more likely to return for future purchases — not only helping boost your sales, but also strengthening your brand’s reputation. Lastly, because search engines favor websites that deliver positive user experiences, a smooth and efficient online store can positively impact your apparel brand’s SEO efforts, helping lead to higher search rankings and more organic traffic.
4. Invest in professional product images
An e-commerce brand’s product images are the visual gateway to your brand — and they play an outsized role in enticing and convincing potential customers to purchase your products online. First and foremost, professional product images can help you create a strong first impression when consumers make a first visit to your website. They also convey a sense of credibility, quality and attention to detail while supporting brand consistency, all essential elements of success in the highly competitive apparel industry.
When online prospects can clearly see the details, colors and textures of your apparel, they can better visualize themselves wearing your products. And whether you’re running online ads, executing email marketing campaigns or spreading the word about your brand on social media, professional images make your marketing assets more compelling and engaging, helping you catch the consumer’s eye and tell a story that resonates with your target audience.
5. Let your brand’s personality shine
In a saturated market where consumers have a long list of apparel options to choose from, having a distinct and relatable brand personality can set you apart from the competition and help you forge deep, meaningful connections with your target audience. It’s not just about selling apparel — it’s about building a relationship with your customers, setting the stage for memorable interactions, increased loyalty and long-term success.
A strong brand personality can help your apparel brand create an emotional bond with consumers who resonate with your brand’s values, voice and image, helping you foster added loyalty and trust among your customers. And in the age of social media and content marketing, your brand’s personality can also guide your content creation, giving you a clear direction for your marketing efforts. That enables you to create content that resonates with your audience and helps you tell a cohesive story. This, in turn, can enhance engagement and encourage user-generated content, delivering a boost for your brand visibility and authenticity.
6. Provide easy access to product reviews
Leveraging the persuasive power of social proof, positive reviews of your apparel brand and its offerings can help inspire brand trust and credibility among consumers — and help you turn them into paying customers. In fact, nearly half of consumers put as much trust in online reviews as they do recommendations from friends and family members.
In addition to educating potential customers about the fit, comfort, style, and durability of your products and enabling shoppers to make well-informed purchase decisions, reviews can also serve to reduce shoppers’ uncertainty about your brand and minimize the inherent sense of risk they may associate with making online apparel purchases. And when shoppers see positive reviews about your offerings from fellow consumers, they are more likely to perceive your apparel as reliable and high-quality. Further, user-generated content such as reviews can also contribute to your SEO efforts. Search engines favor websites with fresh, relevant content, and customer reviews provide additional keywords and phrases that prospective customers may use in their online searches.
Of course (and unfortunately), not all reviews will be good ones. But by providing feedback on areas of your business that may need attention, negative reviews can offer your brand valuable insights for improvement. Also of note, when your brand does get negative reviews, it’s important to handle them in the right way. For guidance on how to navigate these, check out the Brandon blog article “How to Handle Negative Online Reviews.”
7. Put customer-friendly policies and resources in place
Especially in the online apparel marketplace, where returns due to sizing issues or in-person clothing impressions are often inevitable, providing customer-friendly policies and resources serves to not only enhance the overall shopping experience, but also to foster customer trust and conversions. A few especially important considerations in this area include:
- Returns and exchanges: A clear and hassle-free return and exchange policy can instill confidence in prospective customers. When they know they can easily return or exchange an item that doesn’t meet their expectations, they are much more likely to make a purchase.
- Shipping and delivery: Transparent and reasonable shipping and delivery policies help consumers know when they can expect their apparel to arrive and how much they will be charged for shipping. Free or discounted shipping, especially on larger orders, can be a significant incentive for completing a purchase.
- Sizing and fit information: Providing detailed sizing and fit information, including measurement guides and sizing charts, can help customers choose the right size and reduces the likelihood of returns due to sizing issues. It’s a proactive way to address a common concern in online apparel shopping.
8. Offer flexible payment options
Particularly important for online apparel sales, flexible payment options accommodate the diverse financial preferences and needs of your customer base, ultimately leading to increased sales and improved customer satisfaction. By providing diverse payment choices such as credit cards, digital wallets, buy now, pay later options, and installment plans, you can remove barriers to purchase, making it easier for customers to shop and obtain the clothing they desire.
Flexible payment options can also enhance the affordability and accessibility of your brand’s products. They allow customers to select the payment method that aligns with their financial situation, whether it’s making a one-time purchase or spreading the cost out over several months. This flexibility can attract a broader audience and boost sales, as customers appreciate the freedom to manage their budget on their terms.
9. Make your customer service shine
Customer service plays a pivotal role in shaping customer perceptions, loyalty and advocacy. When customers have positive interactions with your apparel brand, they are more likely to become loyal, repeat buyers, as well as vocal advocates for your products. Responsive and helpful customer service can also help mitigate potential issues, such as returns or exchanges, and turn potentially dissatisfied customers into satisfied ones. And when customers know they can rely on your support, they are more likely to trust your brand and keep coming back.
10. Tap into the power of personalization
Personalization allows brands to tailor their messaging and offers to individual customer preferences and behaviors, creating a more engaging and relevant shopping experience. By analyzing customer data and using it to customize product recommendations, email content, advertising and other consumer messaging, you can better capture and keep customers’ attention, and drive higher conversion rates.
Leveraging personalization in your apparel brand’s marketing efforts not only increases your likelihood of making a sale, but it also fosters added customer loyalty. When customers feel that a brand understands their needs and desires, they are more likely to return for repeat purchases and, eventually, even become brand advocates. Personalization can also help your brand stand out in a competitive marketplace. With so many apparel options available, the ability to provide a personalized shopping experience can set your brand apart, making it more memorable and appealing to customers.
Brandon: Your e-commerce — and apparel — marketing experts
With a proven history of helping apparel brands ramp up revenues — and extensive experience building transactional websites on some of the largest, most powerful e-commerce platforms on the market — Brandon is a natural fit for assisting with (or even altogether handling) your apparel brand’s e-commerce strategy, development and execution needs.
Further, as a fully integrated marketing firm, our team of certified brand strategists and data-driven marketing professionals can cover the full spectrum of your brand’s marketing needs. From e-commerce, influencer marketing, email marketing and SEO to social media, digital marketing, media, creative, analytics, public relations, brand strategy, web design and more, we can cover all your apparel brand’s marketing needs in one place. To get started with help ranging from a simple website analysis to a comprehensive strategy tailored to boost the performance of all your marketing campaigns, contact us today.