Online fashion brands aimed at teenagers and young women are currently thriving in the face of ‘diminishing’ UK high streets. Brands such as Boohoo.com, Missguided and PrettyLittleThing are extremely popular among young consumers that like to scroll through digital wardrobes in search of outfit inspiration for their next night out. Couple this with the fact that the clothing sold on these sites are cheap, and it’s no wonder these brands are succeeding in a crowded marketplace.
However, the profit warnings issued by ASOS earlier this year proved that in a crowded marketplace, it can be difficult to maintain that competitive edge and remain profitable. Consumer expectations are forever shifting, and many retail businesses are often failing to adapt to these changing needs fast enough. Although good value and trendy lines are important, women’s fashion is becoming an increasingly complex and interesting space.
In many ways, independent retailers are already at an advantage in this space – these brands are often the kind that naturally offer customers more niche products coupled with a more personalised experience. But standing out can still be a challenge; when the products and services you’re offering are within such a crowded marketplace, it can be difficult not only to cut through the noise but also encourage active customer loyalty.
Alongside providing better value for money and a more personal customer service, what customers really want is the ability to shop in a way that best suits them. Convenience and an easy shopping experience are key drivers of active loyalty. Switched on retailers are doing more to ensure their entire offering is sustainable and tailored to the evolving wants and needs of consumers today. A great example of this is recent product categorisations such as ‘Jeans and a nice top’ – a filtering technique that solves a unique problem for teenagers and young women who want quick and easy inspiration for smart casual events. Similarly, brands that can create easy filtering systems that cater to more personal needs such as plus-size fashion, or ethical and communities’ values carve out a unique place for themselves within the market.
On top of this, demonstrating that you really know your customer and their preferences can contribute to curating brand loyalty and satisfying the need for a seamless and convenient shopping experience. Product recommendations based on past purchases, real-time behaviour and future purchase intent ensures that only the most relevant and eye-catching products are shown to individual customers at exactly the right moments. By investing in tech that can personalise website experiences and email campaigns based on behaviour, independent retailers can create more positive and convenient brand encounters.
Truly understanding customer behaviour
The key to achieving this is investing in technology that utilises machine-learning to turn vast amounts of data into actionable insight. This is useful data analysis that sheds light on what makes customers buy and can predict future outcomes. For example, using intelligent technology to collate multiple data sources, it’s possible for independent retailers to create a single customer view for each individual. Linking behavioural data from email marketing, website traffic and purchases can lead to the creation of customer ‘personas’ that can be targeted more accurately for successful ‘re-engagement’. Similarly, getting to know the customer journey in more detail can allow for planning and the execution of email and retargeting campaigns that are more likely to deliver the highest returns. Shoppers are more likely to stay loyal to brands that have delivered simple, convenient and positive experiences.
Changing up your email offerings
Similarly, when it comes to communicating with customers through email, campaigns can often become stale and predictable – especially in a crowded marketplace. There are several innovative ways to change up email marketing content to encourage greater interaction. For example, post-purchase emails can be created to deliver relevant cross-sells to the customer’s inbox. If someone recently bought footwear, the post-purchase marketing material that follows could recommend items that others have bought along with the product, to encourage a return visit to the site and follow-up purchase. Promotional content can be mixed up with informative/entertaining content and newsletters to increase the propensity for customers to interact.
Striving for differentiation
Independent fashion retailers are in a unique position to build deep emotional connections with consumers and create rich customer journeys. In the face of fierce marketplace competition, leveraging the right technology and support means they are capable of offering not only popular products but expert advice, a more personalised service and a superior existence that encourages consumers to return again and again.