What does your personal computer mean to you?
For you, it’s a private haven. You customized it to suit your needs. When you’re there, you have a feeling that you are in an unconditioned space of total freedom where nobody else has access. You feel uninhibited to do whatever you want. In other words, you are the master of the universe, which you have made and tailored to suit your needs.
Well, the truth is more complicated than that. If you want to buy something (and you frequently do it online), you are free to jump to the eleventh page in search engine results page.
But you’ll never do it.
Admit it. You will only scan the results on the first, maybe even second Google page. What about the remaining thousand? Well, if you want to exercise your right to freedom to the fullest, you shouldn’t be satisfied with what you’ve got on the first page. Nor should you discriminate the rest just because they didn’t make it to the infamous top 15 results.
When I typed “online clothing store” into Google, it returned 92 million results (May 2017). I don’t have all the time in the world, nor do I care that much, so I only viewed the first two pages of results, which is about 30 websites.
In other words, I relied on the results that the search engine curated for me.
Which means that you and I are not all that free after all. Some products and stores have this power of sneaking into our computers and homes. They do it in a very discreet way so that we don’t mind (and many people aren’t even aware of it).
Let’s assume your clothing store has transcended the limits of brick-and-mortar and sneaked into people’s homes through their gadgets.
(If it hasn’t yet, read our previous blog post about the need for you to enter the E-commerce world.)
You have to follow certain rules to avoid failure that awaits 80% of all online businesses even within the first two years of work.
Today we give you the most important rules to stick by.
1) Don’t turn your online clothing store into a flea market
Unless it’s a flea market clothing store.
People go to flea markets for the sheer joy of finding everything that they have never needed. Or the joy of not knowing what they’d stumble upon.
That attitude is the complete opposite of doing business on the Internet. When you sell clothes online, your best guess would be to target precisely the population that is interested in what you have to offer. The reason behind this is simple: people who are looking for a cheap red scarf are more likely to Google “cheap red scarf” than “online clothing store”, and then waste hours of time to choose among hundreds or thousands of products.
Anyway, selling online is more than just assembling different categories of merchandise and hoping someone would pass by and purchase. It is about establishing authority in a particular niche. Therefore, it is preferable to narrow down the choice and find your brand identity in a carefully picked and defined range of products. Sell them products and give away the philosophy of your brand for free. The more people buy from you because of your brand, the better your bottom line will be.
If you don’t believe us, take a look at your own buying habits. Would you prefer to buy a high-quality necklace in an online store that sells jewelry, or in a store that sells everything, from shoes to cufflinks to vintage umbrellas?
2) Make it beautiful
Building a beautiful website is not rocket science these days, nor does it have to be expensive.
For a good online store it is intolerable to have lousy, low-quality or pixelated images that aren’t zoomable. It isn’t enough to just have very intuitive interface, beautiful product photos and all the right information in the right place. (Of course, these things are something you can’t do without.)
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Do they have to click 15 times and fill out 17 form fields to order a single product? If yes, they will most likely leave it rotting in their shopping cart and probably never come back. (If you need a better website for your online store, give us a call and we might just have the perfect solution for you.)
3) Make it HIGHLY functional
The checkout process has to be extremely simple, devoid of any obstacles. Instead of forcing users to register so you would have plenty of awesome information about them, consider putting a single field for their email address – if they are guest users who are not ready to buy yet. (Later on, you’ll use the email address to gently nudge them, of course.)
For those who are ready to buy, clearly indicate what info they should provide – name, address, card number, the number of products (with a small photo, of course), individual product prices, as well as the final price shipping included.
One vital thing to remember is that they may always change their mind. Well, instead of doing all you can to prevent it, help them reconsider! Make sure there’s a “Save” button. You will email them later to remind them they had left a product in their cart. It’s an awesome thing to do. And you know what will blow them away? If you offer it at a discount.
They came back and purchased? Congratulations. You’ve just got yourself a nice customer who is at least 10% more loyal than your average Joe.
Write this on a sticky note above your desk: The average shopping cart abandonment rate in 2016 was as high as 69.23%. (Source: Baymard Institute.) The first reason is that the extra costs were too high. The second – the user was forced to create an account.
According to Baymard Institute, an E-commerce store can improve their conversion rate by 35.26% by recovering the abandoned shopping carts through a better checkout flow.
These stats are worthy to you as a merchant. Quite a lesson, don’t you think?
4) Boost those visits to your website
Just like we said before, your online store won’t be worth a nickel if it doesn’t have a decent place in search engines.
Now, we hate to break it to you, but organic traffic is not enough. Gone are the days when great content was enough to make you a star.
To bring visitors to your online store, you have to devise an attack strategy on multiple fronts.
Engaging content comes first. At least one in-depth blog post per week would be advisable. Make it useful, valuable, nicely written, intelligible for your ideal customer. However, these days written blogs are not enough. You should consider creating video content – clothing and fashion niche is especially suitable for this approach.
But awesome content that converts is futile if there’s nobody to convert. You have to get in people’s faces via content promotion across different social media channels. If you are diligent enough to find fashion influencers who have already built a wonderful online presence, and reach out to them, you might acquire some awesome backlinks to give Google the signal that your content is widely appreciated and relevant.
But it is never enough to count on the amazingness of your content. You don’t want to go anywhere on foot when there is an organized transport that everyone’s using, do you? Once you’ve laid foundations for a wonderful user experience, paid ads will make sure that it actually gets consumed.
5) Recruit customers to promote your products
And now for the best part.
You and your team aren’t on your own. There’s a heap of customers you can recruit to promote you. Not only won’t they mind promoting you, but they will do it for their own sake. Because it’s cool to promote brands people like.
How many times did you check in a cozy restaurant for your Facebook friends to see? You did it for your own sake, but the restaurant just got promoted for free.
Or was it for free? They are sure as hell really good if they made you want to brag about just another ordinary meal you’ve had yesterday.
The same goes for reviews. It is a well-known fact that people believe online reviews more than any other proof.
There are tons of ways you can engage people to interact with your brand. For example, organize a contest on Instagram and Facebook for the best photo with your product, with the most creative caption featuring a hashtag of your brand. Nice rewards will motivate people to join in, and it won’t be too expensive for you to give them out since the benefits are countless! Remember Calvin Klein’s campaign with the fill-in-the-blank “I ______ in #MyCalvins?” That’s right. Nearly 500 thousand posts on Instagram only.
OK, you are not Calvin Klein, but you get the point.
Be cool enough, and people will be happy to wear your stuff and show it off.