Oct 09, 2012 | By poq

Online marketing – 10 top tips for fashion brands

This post is based on Michael Langguth’s experience as the co-founder of Poq. In addition, some of the material in this article comes from Georgina Blain, a fashion marketing expert and currently Marketing Manager for Etsy UK. She presented best practices for selling fashion on Etsy at one of the first Fashion Angel events.

If you are a young designer planning to start selling your products online, or an already established fashion brand just venturing online, it can be difficult to know where to start. Selling fashion via a website and mobile is a very different proposition to buying in-store. There are many little helpers that aid your customer with their decision making process inside the store. Your customers can do things such as:

  • Pick up the clothing
  • Hold it up against themselves
  • Feel the material
  • See the garment in different lights
  • Try on garments and put together outfits

And in addition, as you know, you can influence customers through your visual merchandising, customer service, and layout.

This is all different when you sell digitally, but it’s not a reason to despair. There are plenty of advantages in selling online. Here are some top tips to get you started:

1. You buy what you see

Fashion is all about image, and images should be at the heart of your online shopping experience. You need to replace all the traditional means of making a buying decision with visually appealing product pictures. If you can make a short video, it will make it even easier for your customer to get a feel for your products. ASOS do a catwalk video for all their products – it might be beyond your means, but a video lookbook could be an option.

2. Tell the story of the product

To give customers enough confidence to buy, you need to provide as much relevant information about the product as possible. Tell your customers about the materials, the measurements, how it’s produced, where, by whom, etc. Stand-out from the crowd with great product descriptions, as Tatty Devine do -have a look at this description of the Crown Mini Necklace product

Some general rules for product descriptions:

  • Keep the tone of voice consistent – is your brand playful? Cutting-edge? Aspirational?
  • Give as much product information as possible. Don’t forget things like measurements.
  • Make sure there’s a clear link to information about sizing. This is vital.
  • For modelled shots, tell them the height and size of the model.
  • If you’ve got it, flaunt it – is the product limited edition or ethically sourced? Let your customer know!

3. Professional photography – do you need it?

Georgina stated that there are many successful sellers on Etsy who take the product photos themselves. In fact, one of our own customers at Poq does this. If you’re at an early-stage in your business and your financial resources are limited, taking your own pictures may be necessary but you should make getting professional photos a priority. They’re the most important aspect of selling online and you can’t afford to skimp here.

Some recommendations for taking your own pictures:

  • Don’t use flash – try to get indirect sunlight
  • Use a white background – e.g. white linen.
  • Choose a high resolution – especially for our mobile apps for iPads – a rule of thumb: about 1000 pixels at least.
  • Take 3 different pictures: 1, full with white background 2, model or dummy shot 3, detailed shot to show the product/material
There’s tons of tutorials online for taking your own product shots, especially if you are shooting small items like accessories rather than product shots. Check out this helpful article from Etsy.
4. Create the story of your company
You need to sell yourself and your company – tell a story and make it personal. What makes you special? What sets you apart? Are your products handmade? What inspired them? Are they locally produced or ethically sourced? Did you use any special or unique techniques?
Tatty Devine  do this very well by promoting the fact that they produce 99% of the jewellery themselves in the UK.Think about your background, ambitions, your mission. Your customers buy your brand as much as your products, they want to know what motivates and inspires you.

Branding can seem daunting, but it’s just about identifying and refining the DNA of your company – what makes you special.

5. Some products sell better than others online

Products that do not necessarily need to be tried on as part of the buying process tend to sell better. For example, accessories and jewellery sell more easily. However you can increase sales of other products by improving the buying experience for the customer and by providing great photos and lots of information about fit and measurements. Think about your returns policy too – customers are more likely to buy if they know they can return something that doesn’t fit.

6. Marketing: don’t let your shop just sit there

Especially for small companies, social media is great. It’s free and you only invest as much time as you want to. You can use tools like hootsuite to manage your social media efforts.

Get a Facebook page, Twitter account and interact with customers, bloggers and journalists in your area. This helps to strengthen the reputation of your brand. Here are some basic rules to follow:

  • Twitter: Tweet regularly, but make sure it is relevant and consistent with your brand. Tweet about upcoming products, new products, best-selling items on your website. Promote your other sales channels by tweeting about your mobile app or your physical store every once in a while. You can also tweet about reactions to collections at important times for the industry such as during fashion week. This will show that you are not only a serious fashion brand but that you are also aware of what’s happening in the fashion industry. Keep it personal and interactive. Talk to people!
  • Facebook: post fairly regular updates and try engaging techniques such as posting polls and asking your fans questions. Facebook is a great channel for interaction and questions. Be warned – it’s also the first place people will go to complain so keep a constant eye on your page.
  • Mobile app push notifications: These are the perfect tool for short messages about flash sales, product news, and special offers. Don’t overdo them though – keep them special and they’ll continue to attract customers to buy.

For more information on how to use social media, have a look at an earlier blog post here or alternatively the Design Trust’s website for some great tips on social media.

7. Online exclusives

Everyone loves to be special and get a special treatment. And against what the likes of Groupon want to tell you, it doesn’t always have to be a discount. One of our customers, the London-based brand, going by the great name of  ‘Lie Down I Think I Love You‘ or LDITILY does this very successfully. They promote some products exclusively on their website. Think about different ways you could offer online exclusives, whether in sizing, colour, or personalisation.

8. Returns policy

Your customers want assurance that they can trust your brand/product and they have the flexibility to return if need be. On your website, app or mobile site, tell them the exact terms of what they can return and when.

9. Press & PR

This is a whole topic in itself, but our best tip is to target carefully. Work out who the most relevant journalists and bloggers are for your products. If you send something to journalists or bloggers, make it stand out, and make it personal – mass emails normally get trashed straight away. If you’re sending by post, use bright colours, pictures in high resolution on CD and two pages of the same pictures printed as a preview.

10. Initial offers for App-users

If you decide to get a specialised shopping app, offering a free gift or promotional discount in the initial 30 day /15 day period encourages people to download and buy from the app. You can promote the offer through social media and in physical stores which will help to create a ‘buzz’ about the launch of your app. If they’ve bought once from your app, they’ll have it on their screens as a constant reminder, and they’ll be more likely to buy again.

Online shopping via internet and mobile can be a great channel through which to sell fashion. Through following these tips, you can ensure the customer experience is as enjoyable as shopping in a physical store.
Michael Langguth

Co-Founder of Poq

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