By: Jacklyn Deans, Flash + Color
Are you thinking about expanding your Fashion Retail Business online?
Getting started in eCommerce is one of the best decisions you can make for your fashion business.
Direct-to-consumer online retail is growing 13.5% year-over-year. Retailers that understand the power of eCommerce are reaping the benefits of this double-digit growth.
While eCommerce comes with unique challenges such as shipping issues and high levels of competition, the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
There are several benefits to expanding your business online—you can overcome your geographic limitations, boost awareness about your brand, attract new customers, and make revenue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
While there are many factors involved to reach the highest level of eCommerce success, here are some basic, step-by-step tips to help you get started.
1. Buy a domain name that matches the name of your business. Use a domain registration company such as Namecheap.com or Godaddy.com to purchase your domain. Stick to domains ending in .com and avoid .net or newer unusual domain suffixes like .boutique or .fashion. Customers think .com first, and it makes it easier for them to find your business when you use this TLD.
2. Claim all social media accounts that match the name of your business. If your business name is unavailable, make slight modifications to your username to set up an account. Make sure the name you choose is consistent across all social media platforms. At minimum, you should claim your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts.
3. Develop a buyer persona profile. A Buyer Persona is a representation of your ideal customer. They are the customer that is most likely to purchase your products and share information about your products through word of mouth. Understanding your customer affects everything in your business, including your branding, your positioning, your marketing mix, your photography, and your copy. Having this deep understanding of your customer ensures that you use your marketing dollars wisely and that you sell products and services that your customer will buy. (Read more on buyer persona profiles here.)
4. Decide which products will go on the site. Think about the answers to these questions. How many products will the site feature? Under what categories will they fall? Are your products lightweight and easy to ship, or are they bulky, cumbersome, and expensive to ship? What are the price points of the items that you will feature on the site? Let the answers to these questions guide your decision.
5. Choose the right platform. Research the eCommerce platform that will work best for your business. Decide if you want this platform to integrate with your existing systems or if you would like to start fresh, with brand new systems and a new platform. Consider this carefully and choose wisely. I highly recommend Shopify for small to midsize fashion companies for their best in class reliability, support, design, ease of use, and integrations. Other platform options include Magento, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce.
6. Decide if you would like to use a theme or do a custom-built site. Themes and theme modifications cost substantially less than a custom build. However, a custom build may be necessary depending on your business' needs and desires. Evaluate your needs, wants, and budget so you can find the right design and development agency to create your site.
7. Create a product photography style guide and shoot images. Images are the most important feature of your site. Online shoppers cannot touch, feel, or interact with the product. They are unable to gauge texture, fit, or true color as they would if they were shopping in your store. This is why your images are so important. Shoot all your product images on a pure white background to help your customer have an accurate understanding of the product. Shoot lifestyle images to sell the brand and convey its perspective. All photos should be taken by professional photographers.
8. Write copy for products and the site. The importance of great copy cannot be overstated. Copy helps reinforce information from the image, tells the brand story, and convey the brand's voice. Additionally, when you use keyword rich-copy, it boosts your search engine rankings, so that your brand and products can be found on Google. Poor writing on your site in the form of weak headlines, thin product descriptions, and lack of blog content hurt your online sales and web traffic. Hire a copywriter with eCommerce experience. You can find them on Upwork, or through companies like Scripted or Writers Access.
9. Upload content to site and test before launching. After all site assets are ready, upload them to your new site. Test the site to check for glitches, incorrect information, dead links, and most importantly, working checkout functionality.
10. Launch and drive traffic to the site. Build awareness and drive traffic to your site by using the marketing channels that are in line with the behavior of your ideal customer. A solid strategy for most Fashion companies includes a marketing mix that consists of, SEO, Email Marketing, Influencer Marketing, and Paid Ads.
eCommerce has many moving parts, challenges, and nuances. However, with proper planning and execution, the rewards are great. If you follow these steps to get started, you will be well on your way to reaping the benefits of this fast-growing sales channel.
About Jacklyn Deans:
Jacklyn Deans is the Founder & Principal eCommerce Consultant for Flash + Color, an eCommerce consulting firm that helps Fashion, Beauty, and Lifestyle brands establish and expand their business online. Over her 15-year career in eCommerce and Digital Marketing, Jacklyn has helped hundreds of business owners increase their sales, customer loyalty, and customer engagement through actionable, marketing techniques and strategies. Jacklyn is passionate about demystifying direct-to-consumer eCommerce to help Small to Mid-size brands thrive.
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