17 visits + live model = a sale : hot tips for fashion sellers

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You might remember Stuart from his suspension by eBay last year. Since his eBay shops were forcibly closed, he’s been concentrating on his websites, building them from the ground up to replace the income that eBay took away. Today, he’s sharing hot tips from a recent fashion industry conference.

Creative Commons License photo credit: MoonSoleil

I attended the Fashion Online conference by Drapers magazine and picked up some great tips and ideas about online trading in the fashion business. Some of the top names in ecommerce fashion were presenting: the MDs of ASOS, M and M Direct and Figleaves. There seemed to be an air of optimism that online sales would be the answer to your prayers if you were struggling on the high street. I am not sure this is true as it takes a good deal of money, time and will to be successful online.

Community helps sales

Community was a big part of the discussion from many of the speakers: ASOS, the second largest fashion retailer in the UK, launch their community this week, and then later in the year their own marketplace. There was also a presentation from two invitation-only sales sites where community was becoming a big part of what they do.

The more you can do with your site, the more reasons you give people to shop, the better and longer they will stay.

Delivery more important than price

There were some interesting points made about delivery: as sales grow, the demand for better delivery also grows. According to IMRG, delivery is now the second most important factor for customer satisfaction; first is product range and interestingly price has now dropped to sixth place. It was also announced that HDN have signed a deal with Paypoint for using their sites for drop off and collection points. This sounds like a promising idea that could not only help delivery but also local shops too.

“17 visits to a site for every transaction”

Search as always is a hot topic and was featured by many in their presentations. On average there are 17 visits to a site for every transaction that takes place; Google showed that it takes on average six searches before a customer converts. It’s not all about getting millions of customers to your site, it’s converting the customers you do get more effectively: sometimes it the smallest of things that make the biggest difference. If you track your conversions on your site and you have a bigger than 30% bounce rate, you have a problem. Just try new things all the time, it was said on average, Google have 50+ experiments going on at any one time on their homepage and we all know how sparse that is.

Model or mannequin?

Finally presentation which is kind of linked to search seemed to be high on the agenda. ASOS rate presentation and the ‘sticky’ effect as the most important aspects of their site, and are investing a lot of money in these areas.

The MD of Figleaves, who took over in early 2008, talked about the interesting problem of ‘retina pollution’: their site had too much choice and too much going on. They have now cut their brand range from 350 to 150, so rather than have ten similar pairs of knickers, they would only have three. That I think is a good approach to have and something I will be following with our buying from now on; it’s not all about the biggest range.

The old ‘model or mannequin’ question was raised again, and there is no question that a human model sells clothing online more effectively. Different models can also make a massive difference: Figleaves have been trialling the same products with different models and certain models sell clothes better than others. And none of those headless, limbless shots either – they just don’t cut it. Clothes need to be shown on real people.

In summary

  • it’s not all about getting millions of people to hit on your site, its about getting some there then keeping them in as many inventive ways as possible.
  • presentation is very important and gone are the days of any old picture will do; even if you sell on eBay the presentation of your product can make an enormous amount of difference to your sales
  • look at your range, maybe consider slimming it down and present that range better as you have more time to spend on it with fewer products.

The future is good for online sales in 2009, predicted at £50billion and in clothing there is massive growth and possibilities as it is still very much an untapped market.

7 Responses

  1. That “17 visits to get a sale” statistic is just astonishing: it really demonstrates the importance of creating a site that people want to go back to. Obviously community is part of that, but I don’t think we should neglect the traditional “make it easier to shop” features like wish lists and shopping carts that remember what’s put into them for a decent length of time.

  2. Really interesting, thanks Stuart. We’ve wondered about the whole mannequin or model question before (and also the “folded up neatly” effect) for jeans. Problem with models, of course, is you’ve go to pay them.

  3. Jean I have no idea what your images are currently like, but using Photoshop or Fireworks to get rid of the bg looks much better, especially with a crisp white background. Perhaps you could “cut” the mannequin portion out?

    1 in 17 is a conversion rate of 5.88% if my maths is right?

  4. Hey no problem, I always think its good to spread the word on some of this stuff and it was a good conference to attend, although I felt like the only independant there lots of big players like New Look and TXMaxx!

    Well we have been using models quite a bit accross our sites as we already thought this makes us look differenet to other sellers. I have found the models through sites like Model Mayhem and Star Now, you tend to find models who are starting out or not signed to an agent which means you can get a good price!

    Hope that helps


  5. We’re doing the white background thing at the moment – our photos aren’t bad but I always think jeans look better with a nice pert bum in them 😉 Might give those sites Stu suggests a go.



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