Over the last few years, there has been a convergence of standard features and engaging customer components that are now expected on fashion eCommerce websites. I intend to look into these features as part of the ‘customer engagement lifecycle loop’ (Reach, Find, Convert, and Retain) in a series of four blog posts and provide some insight as to how they can contribute to maximising conversion to meet digital revenue targets. In Part 2 I look at the point of engagement where a customer wants to find the “right product”.
PART 2: FIND
Find (or ‘browse’) is the point of engagement where a customer wants to find the “right product” on a website, although what that product actually is can be largely influenced by the retailer themselves.
Current Trends and Best Practice
Having a category-based search feature, also known as “facet-based browsing”, is a must in fashion eCommerce sites and can be a powerful merchandising tool for those retailers wanting to capitalise on up-to-the-minute trends and trading conditions.
For example, creating a new attribute titled “as seen in Elle magazine” and then tagging certain products with this attribute creates an on-demand filter that can be seen by customers as they filter down the catalog and category hierarchy. Tools like OneHydra can provide automation in this area by dynamically adding new facets and category content based on real-time search trends. Furthermore, ranking products based on higher margin or stock availability can ensure that the right product for both the customer and the retailer is displayed at the right time.
There are other browsing shortcuts that can also have a great impact on conversion. Allowing a customer to view different colour variants of a particular product, rather than having to go into the product details page, is a very important feature that keeps the customer on site. This reduces bounce rate and increases the chances of converting by enabling a customer to easily see different options with minimal mouse clicks.
Fashion is all about the look and so your eCommerce website must have rich imagery and videos to showcase your products. The recent emergence of “catwalk” videos from the likes of ASOS and Boohoo proves that static images are not enough, as people want to see how the garment sits, moves and flows while worn.
Emerging features and The Future
A number of very interesting features in the ‘virtual’ dressing room have begun to appear and are greatly helping customers find the right item (and ultimately increasing conversion). For example, Fits.me uses ‘shape-shifting’ mannequins, where the mannequins morph through thousands of permutations of size and shape. This means specific visualisations of a garment can be shown on a particular body shape. Another service from My Virtual Model claims to provide a solution that uses digital technology to create virtual overlays over a model that can be configured to specific body shapes and sizes.
I believe we will start to see the emergence of “digital personal shoppers” in the format of chat window engagements for customers to be able to ask, in real-time, more about a product or advice on matching items (note that a service like this is currently being trialled by ASOS). However, I think this will move into a visual medium where webcams and mobile phone/tablet cameras will be used to enable a “real” personal assistant to interact and help with those stylistic personal decisions.