In a special feature, industry experts offer their advice on how to optimise web sales whilst also driving footfall to physical stores.
Rachel Pierce, vendor manager, Intimate Apparel and Accessories
– Imaging must reflect the true fit of a product so the customer can visualise the type of shape, support and coverage they can expect, as well as highlighting the key product features in bullet points that are easy to read, informative and relevant for the customer.
– Reviews are key for our customers, therefore our unbiased customer reviews, together with the fit indicator on site, provides the customer with an excellent resource, helping to further aid purchasing decisions.
– Lingerie edits on site and through mailers help to highlight new seasons’ product and also focuses on new trends for the season ahead. Gift guides at key times of the year help pinpoint and guide the customer to new and exciting selection.
– ‘Complete the Set’ is a fantastic tool to highlight matching items within each range, this again helps our customers to navigate to matching selection.
– We use emails and other personalised shopping widgets to focus on targeting the right consumers. It allows us to introduce new and upcoming brands to customers who have shown interest in or bought similar brands.
– Ensuring our customers can find the right size is important and our unlimited shelf space means we can offer a wide range of sizes.
Michele Poynter, founder
– My top tip would be to add value to the customer experience. Always find ways to make the buying process online as informative and speedy as possible, by reducing the clicks needed to complete a transaction, for example. At the same time, you can explain the specialist services that are available in store, and the importance of having a professional bra fitting and refitting. In store, when at the purchasing stage or just after, communicate that you have a website, what’s on the website and that the delivery and returns process is very easy, giving the customer greater options from you in the future.
– Providing shop customers with a sizing card after being fitted, including details of their size and the brands and styles that worked best for them, is a great way to help the customer to shop confidently through your website in the future. It helps decrease returns as they have a guide to refer back to, and if the customer is unable to come to the shop, it doesn’t result in a loss of sales.
– Cross promotions can really help drive traffic to the website and increase footfall to the shop. We will often promote shop offers online via email marketing campaigns and social media channels, which will include links to the products on our website, giving customers a chance to browse beforehand, capturing spontaneous buys, and encouraging customers to pop in to our store to be fitted.
Helen Masters, lingerie retail consultant
– Offer the same personal service to web customers as you do in store. Retailers and shoppers tend to think of the web channel as being remote and faceless. Consumers shop online on their own and feel fairly anonymous, and so while they get all the convenience and ease of online shopping they can miss the all important personal touch that the boutique experience offers. In business terms, that can mean customers fail to find the right product, misjudge the size they need, don’t bother to look at matching items and end up buying nothing.
– Use your confirmation email or a phone call to make sure the customer has chosen the right product and minimise any returns.
– Offer a ‘Just In Time’ service, but back it up with immediately-available alternatives for items not in stock. Many customers are happy to wait a week or so for their order so it makes sense to offer items that are available on a continuity basis from your suppliers and to regularly order these for customers.
– Recommend matching or similar items to add on to the sale. Once you’re in discussion with the customer, whether it’s by phone or email, you have the same opportunity to build the sale as you would in store. What’s more, the customer will see this personal touch as a helpful and unusual service from a website – a surefire way to stand out and grow your sales.
John Gorman, general manager, North America
– Retailers need to provide two things when offering a digital solution to their customers; first, a convenient way to shop. This is no longer a plus, it is a must. Customers expect it. This means easy to use, easy to shop, a friendly and efficient user experience. The second is information. Even when consumers are not actually shopping, they may want to refer to your website for information. This can be product, customer feedback, reviews, information about the brand, the retailer, contact details etc.
– By combining these two elements, a retailer is providing good quality service to their customers and, providing the website contains clear and easy to access store information, customers are then able to make a decision as to whether they wish to shop instantly online, or would rather in person in store.
– The trend in shopping is to combine both options, giving rise to such developments as click and collect; choose in store and receive later via post; a way of bringing both channels into the consumers’ needs and shopping preferences.
Coco de Mer
Lucy Litwack, managing director
– The key is to ensure that the brand message is consistently communicated across all consumer touch points so that the experience the customer receives in store is the same that they receive online, over the phone or even in the parcel that they receive. This touches everything from consistency of range and merchandising, to offers, visual identity and tone of voice.
– Social media is very important. It is a great way to attract customers to your website while also enticing curious new to check out the store. We like to constantly showcase our pieces via Twitter and Instagram.
– Coco de Mer consistently features great photography on the homepage of the website, in the window of boutique, at point of sale inside our boutique, on social media and in mailers. It is all about consistency – having a very strong brand that is reinforced all the time by bold imagery.
– Having an international reach is very important to Coco de Mer. People travel from all over the world to visit our boutique on Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, after reading about the brand online.
– Provide a curated edit of products with both online and in-store exclusives. Customers need to trust your judgement.