It’s an excellent time to be a direct to consumer (DTC) fashion ecommerce brand. Our recent Fashion and Apparel Industry Report projects that worldwide ecommerce revenue will rise from $481.2 billion in 2018 to $712.9 billion by 2022.
Consumers will also soon have more buying power, with the number of new prospective customers projected to rise to over 1.2 billion by 2020.
This positive growth is driven by four major factors:
- Expanding global markets
- Increasing internet access and smartphone adoption
- Emerging middle-classes with disposable income
- Innovating technologies driving new ecommerce experiences
So, what are the best fashion ecommerce websites doing to take advantage of these trends?
Let’s examine how they’re harnessing the power of everything from: artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), global expansion, mobile user experiences, checkout, and so much more to stand out from competitors.
1. Artificial Intelligence: LeSportsac
Many leading fashion ecommerce sites are using artificial intelligence (AI) to personalize recommendations to individual customers, which helps drive higher average order values.
LeSportsac recently worked with Nosto to drive hyper-targeted personalization using AI. It works by funneling customer behavior data to LeSportsac's marketing, merchandising, and design teams in real-time — helping the site to display personalized offers, like the “Trending in Your Area” example below.
LeSportsac’s AI investment drove their ecommerce sales up 12% after the company overhauled its site, and increased their email click-throughs by 30,000 per month.
2. Augmented Reality (AR) and Social Shopping: Nike’s Air Jordan Brand
Nike’s Air Jordan Brand continues to innovate — both with its shoe designs and its use of new technology. To mark its thirtieth anniversary in 2018, Jordan Brand hosted an exclusive sneaker drop for the new Air Jordan Tinker III via an AR and social shopping event during the NBA All-Star weekend.
Jordan fans could view a 3D AR video (called a world lens) of him famously taking flight from the free-throw line in a retro slam dunk contest. Users could then walk around the world lens to see Jordan from all angles and tap to watch him change into the 2018 All-Star uniform, wearing the new shoes that would be available exclusively to pop-up shopping event attendees at the game.
Snapcodes (QR codes powered by Snapchat) were then displayed to enable sneaker fans to scan them with Snapchat-enabled cameras and access a special ecommerce store set up for the event. The Tinker III sneakers, which wouldn’t be available for another month in stores, could then immediately be purchased through the Snapchat app.
The sneaker drop sold out in 23 minutes, and the shoes were same-day delivered to customers’ front doors, thanks to Jordan Brand’s collaboration with local fulfillment centers operated by Darkstore.
3. Automating Discounts and Checkout Rewards: Evy’s Tree
Luxury hoodie brand Evy’s Tree recently devised a way to offer a variety of automated discounts and to repackage its pricing and merchandise. The company improved customer experiences by first calculating and applying discounts in real-time at checkout (using Scripts) rather than using discount codes, which can be hard for mobile customers to enter manually.
Then, the company integrated the discount functionality with Smile.io, which helps merchants earn customer loyalty by offering flexible choices when customers are redeeming points, including additional product discounts and free shipping.
Since the company launched rewards and automated discounts at checkout, over 50% of their customers make more than one purchase.
4. Digital Transformation (Offline-to-Online): Urban Planet
YM Inc., which operates many iconic retail brands, has more than 600 physical locations. But one of its signature brands, Urban Planet, recently set out to reinvigorate and better reflect its existing retail shopping experience via its ecommerce website.
Urban Planet was able to succeed by merging a scalable and trustworthy back-end with a customizable and customer-friendly frontend.
Some of the changes Urban Planet are outlined below.
The company improved its navigation by using clear calls to action that were prominently displayed in the re-design and highlighted via NEW and SALE tabs through upselling and cross-selling opportunities.
The site’s upgraded navigation also included smarter drop-down tabs to make it easy for visitors to quickly find products.
Urban Planet also integrated Algolia Search to auto-fill-in and display product search results instantly, intuitively, and visually as visitors type their searches into the query box.
Finally, because a seamless online-to-offline commerce experience (where customers shop on their phones in-store and shop online before buying in-store) is a multi-billion dollar sales opportunity, building a mobile-responsive site was a huge priority for Urban Planet.
5. Going Global In Style: The 5TH
With over 700,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram, Australian-based fashion accessories brand The 5TH has become a global sensation. The company ships around the world from Melbourne and has built four ecommerce stores for each of the regions where the brand does the most business online.
The 5TH has also hosted pop-up shops in high-profile locations like New York City to meet with new customers face-to-face.
The brand uses scarcity as a promotional tactic when it releases a new limited edition watch or bag, which creates a feeling of exclusivity. The 5TH is also now entertaining partnerships with famous creatives and collaborators to connect with customers on a deeper level.
6. One-Click Mobile Checkouts: MVMT Watches
As soon as a user begins your mobile-checkout process, they should be offered mobile-first payment options that help them buy via a single click. Example options include:
- Apple Pay
- Shopify Pay
- Android Pay
- Amazon Pay
But it can be overwhelming for the customer to be presented with all five options at once. That’s why MVMT Watches only includes payment gateways that are most popular among its existing customer base.
MVMT Watches’ mobile-optimized checkout does more than just display beautifully — it also defaults to two of the most-popular mobile-payment methods.
7. Shop the Look and Swatches: Red Dress Boutique
The faster and easier it is for a customer to buy your products, more likely they are to convert. That’s why Red Dress Boutique uses unique ecommerce sales strategies like”‘Shop the Look” which allows customers to buy a whole outfit with one click.
Since launching the new strategy, Red Dress Boutiques’ sales have grown by double digits YoY. Red Dress Boutique uses also uses Swatchify, which enables the company to easily create detailed variants of its most-popular products in vibrant color.
8. Reviews and User-Generated Content: Cupshe
A major component of swimwear fashion brand Cupshe’s growth has been to encourage and grow reviews via user-generated content.
While expanding Cupshe’s international presence to the U.S. market, the ecommerce team knew they needed to customize content for an American audience, along with building trust and communicating with an English-speaking market. Cupshe implemented the user-generated content platform Yotpo, which allowed them to include customer reviews on their product pages.
As a result, Cupshe generated over 35,765 reviews and customer photos in just a few months, which the ecommerce brand promoted throughout onsite and offsite funnels.
Thanks to a reviews widget that was custom designed and developed by BVAccel, Cupshe's pages are full of UGC reviews. The result was a 101% increase in U.S. revenue and a 24% increase in AOV.
9. Shipping and Product Bundles: Rhone Apparel
The cost of offering free shipping can seem high to some ecommerce merchants, but it's still an effective way to increase sales. Almost 80% of consumers say it’s why they prefer to shop online; roughly 60% say they’d cancel an order if the shipping cost was too steep. Also, 39% say they’d abandon their carts when free shipping isn’t offered.
To still make a profit on free shipping, men’s premium activewear brand Rhone Apparel began bundling its most popular items into curated kits. This strategy controls bundle sizes to fit into Rhone’s ideal shipping containers. It also optimizes shipping thresholds and increases conversions and Rhone’s revenue per user. Finally, it rewards customers with a special price point for buying multiple products.
10. Shop Instagram Directly: Gymshark
Fast-growing fitness brand Gymshark has become a global sensation thanks to its relationships with fitness guru brand ambassadors and global pop-up shop tours. Its ecommerce site was built with the mobile customer in mind and also offers a “Shop Instagram” integration when users scroll down to the bottom of the page.
This unique feature enables visitors to view outfits that are promoted on Instagram to purchase them directly from the ecommerce site with just a few clicks.
11. Retro-Inspired Photography and Fashion: Chubbies
Men’s casual and weekend wear brand, Chubbies, started out with the mission of celebrating their dads’ short short hand-me-downs while they were growing up. The comfortable stretch shorts that the brand is famous for attracted so much business that the company soon expanded into shirts, coats, and underwear.
To sell its retro dad-inspired online brand image, Chubbies uses vibrant colors and humorous images and photography on its site to attract and keep its target customers’ attention.
The brand’s playful message is also reflected in its social media storytelling. In the video below, the ecommerce team jokes around while wearing Chubbies clothing:
Due to its rapid ecommerce success, Chubbies has also opened over ten brick and mortar stores across the United States.
12. Custom Storefronts for MLB and NCAA Collaborations: Johnnie-O
Rapidly expanding premium menswear brand Johnnie-O doesn’t just sell its high-quality apparel to customers online; it also lets them customize it to their tastes through ecommerce orders. Via collaborations with the MLB and NCAA, Johnnie-O brand enthusiasts can get their favorite team embroidered on their shirts and have them shipped to them in just two weeks.
How the Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites Stand Out
From artificial intelligence to augmented reality, custom orders and loyalty rewards; the best fashion ecommerce sites have a lot in common. Primarily, they all use the latest technology and innovative user experience strategies to capture and nurture their customers online.
Whether or not they have an offline, online, or omnichannel presence, these sites ensure the brand message is consistent across all platforms — reflected in everything from playful photography, user-generated reviews and vibrant color swatches. Best of all, they provide plenty of ideas and inspiration for improving your fashion ecommerce site in 2019 and beyond.