It’s an exciting time to be in the online fashion business. A recent report reveals that of the top 20 DTC brands, 13 of them are in the fashion and apparel industry.
Shoppers are flocking online to quench their thirst for the best fashion products. As a result, consumers are set to spend $204.9 billion on fashion items online in the US alone. More impressively, the industry’s valuation is set to hit $1 trillion by 2024.
That being said, a common challenge fashion consumers are facing is finding the items they desire with little friction. This means that fashion e-retailers can jump leaps and bounds by simply polishing the product discovery experience.
In this article, we’ll help fashion e-merchants wrap their heads around online product discovery, and enhance the experience for the modern, fashion-savvy consumer.
The Importance and Role of Product Discovery in Fashion Stores
Online product discovery is all about helping shoppers find their ideal products in a seamless and enjoyable way. Finding the right products with ease is incredibly crucial to the modern shopper. If this is hampered in any way, 76% of them will abandon the website. What's more, 52% will abandon their entire cart if there is at least one item they can’t find.
Ensuring consumers can effortlessly find the fashion items they’re looking for, and ones they may be interested in, massively improves the experience and satisfaction with your brand. It shows that your business is privy to their needs and wants. As a result, you’ll place your brand as a fashion-savvy expert that they can trust. That’s why customer lifetime value increases by 19% when stores ace product discovery.
Product discovery plays a role throughout the customer journey. Of course, the beginning of the shopping journey is rife with opportunities to lead shoppers to their perfect products. However, once they’ve landed on an item they want to buy, or even after purchasing, you can still guide them to even more products. In fact, it’s at this time that you’ll be in a much better position to place relevant products right before their eyes.
Another important thing to note is that product discovery takes place across different channels, not just your eCommerce store. In fact, when it comes to fashion consumers, discovery is often happening on social channels.
You can bet your bottom dollar that mishaps in product discovery will have a great impact on fashion stores. Conversely, mastering online product discovery can work wonders. So, let’s get into the ways you can enhance it for your fashion and apparel store.
How To Ace Online Product Discovery For Your Fashion Store
Bring relevant items to shoppers at the start of their journey
Whilst product discovery can take place throughout a shopper’s journey, a key area to pay attention to is the start. This is when they are actively seeking out a product that fits their needs. This open state of mind could make them a whole lot more willing to your suggestions.
First, let’s take a look at where fashion consumers begin their shopping journeys.
When a shopper knows what they want, the first step towards finding it is almost split evenly between search engines and e-retailer sites. However, when they are uncertain, search engines are favored more.
Fashion consumers only slightly prefer going straight to the retailers' websites when they know what they want (left). Search engines become more favorable when they aren’t sure (right). (Source: Catalyst Digital)
It’s a good idea to also set up Google Shopping Ads as these will often appear on both Google Shopping tab and the initial Google search results. To do this, you’ll need a Google account and Google Merchant Center account for your Shopify store. You can then sync your products to Google with the Google Channel app.
Another crucial discovery channel for fashion consumers is social media. The big players here are Facebook and Instagram. As it stands, Instagram is the number one platform for fashion product discovery. What’s more, 4 in 10 Facebook users say that they've found fashion inspiration on the platform. For these social media addicts, there are a number of ways you can bring attention to your products:
- Influencers: micro-influencers can have a significant impact on product discovery. A study found that 26% of consumers found a new product thanks to the sponsorship of KOLs. A cost-effective way to find the perfect micro-influencer for your brand is to search for mentions of your brand and relevant trending hashtags on social media. You can then take a look at which influencers are using them. Another option is to use tools like Buzzsumo to help you discover influential pages.
- Social ads: to really capture the attention of social scrollers, it’s a good idea to use story ads. You can easily tag your products and put them in front of a targeted audience using social ads. It also happens that mobile-shot stories outperform studio-shot ones, so you don’t need a big budget to succeed here.
- Livestreaming: already a big hit in China, this is beginning to pick up pace throughout the world as consumer appetite grows for it. Almost 25% of adults outside of China would like to discover new products via a live stream. Scout out influencers or brand representatives with a natural affinity for the camera to star in live shopping videos.
Use short-form video content and UGC to fuel your social feed
As we just mentioned, social media is quite a force in the world of fashion. But aside from creating ads and tapping into the audience of influencers, your brand’s own social feed can act as a source of inspiration.
User-generated content (UGC) is incredibly influential in the eCommerce landscape. Shoppers place far more trust in this type of content and are actively seeking it in their quest to find the best fashion items. Major fashion brands have cottoned on to this which is why you’ll see their feeds chock full of posts by customers showcasing their products.
Red Dress encourages its followers to appear on its feed by using the hashtag #rdbabe and offering them a gift card. The outfits in these posts can then be shopped by following a link in the bio.
To populate your social feeds with this content, create a branded hashtag and incentivize customers to use it to share posts of them using your products.
Another thing consumers are eager to see on social platforms is short-form videos. This is evident with the rise of TikTok and Instagram prioritizing video content. Looking at this through an eCommerce and fashion lens, 46% of consumers want to watch product videos before they buy, and TikTok is a huge source of inspiration for shoppers.
(Source: Insider Intelligence)
Combining UGC and short-form video content in your social posts will turn your feed into a compelling shop window.
Sharpen up site search experience
Considering that 43% of shoppers go straight to the search bar once they’re on a retail website, this is a prime product discovery spot you can’t afford to slip up on.
The chance to present customers with relevant products starts the moment the search bar is clicked on and those first few letters are typed. Before the typing starts, showcase popular search terms, recent searches by a user if they are returning, and trending products. Mimic the Google experience by giving as-you-type suggestions with visual, instant results in the dropdown.
Camilla does a great job at this. There are suggestions based on what’s popular and relevant results after only three letters are typed.
You should also ensure that your site search engine is privy to the natural and more informal way shoppers type. For instance, rather than typing white t-shirt into the search bar, a visitor might opt for white tee. Your site search engine needs to know that these search terms are one and the same in order to make product discovery as smooth as possible.
Finally, the filtering process needs to be intuitive and user-friendly. This is a crucial phase in the search and discovery process as this is when shoppers can get into the nitty-gritty of what they want. This is going to help them create their final shortlist of products. You’ll need to optimize your filtering system to make this final step in discovery smooth.
Mavi includes almost all of the most important filters plus some category-specific ones.
Implement a price range slider so that the full scope of every shopper’s budget can be included. Color swatches are a great option as it’s much easier to understand what the color is when it’s visualized for you. Size is another must-have in the fashion world. There’s nothing worse than finding the perfect dress or pair of jeans just to find out it’s not in your size! Most importantly, ensure multiple filters can be selected in one go.
You can prime your site search experience for optimal product discovery by downloading the Boost Product Filter & Search app. All of these features plus more will be right at your fingertips.
Recommend visually similar items and personalized recommendations
Product discovery is primarily concerned with bringing relevant products to customers. It should come as no surprise that data will be a big help.
Personalization is the key to relevancy, so use each customer’s browsing history and past purchases to fuel recommendations. It’s best to place these recommendations on the homepage as it’s not yet obvious what your customer is looking for. Product pages, on the other hand, will provide you with more precise inkling.
On product pages, recommend visually similar items at varying price points. These items should be your bestsellers and be sure to prove it by including star ratings where possible. This will act as a form of social proof which is vital during the discovery process.
Check out how Katy Perry Collections recommends very similar heel designs in different colors and styles.
You should also use product pages to show items other shoppers who viewed that particular page purchased or looked at.
You can get this functionality in your Shopify store with an AI-powered recommendations app like Wiser.
Help shoppers style their items as part of discovery
Helping your customers complete the look whilst browsing takes recommending products to a whole new level. What’s great about doing this is not only are your recommendations going to be super relevant, but they’ll also show that your brand is fashion savvy.
(Source: Red Dress)
Keep your eyes on the latest fashion trends and use them as a basis to style your bestselling and new items. Make sure that the complementary products you suggest are priced similarly to the main one. You should also aim to include all of the products in a single image to be used as one of the main images on the product pages. This will act as a great visual stimulus and make the discovery of these items feel natural.
Create occasion and style-based collections
In addition to looking for a particular item, shoppers may be looking for an outfit for a specific occasion. This is where occasion-based and style-based collections really come in handy.
Think about the different themes or styles relevant to the clothes you’re selling that can form the basis of a collection. This can be as simple as formal wear or party wear, or as precise as different fits like Mavi does.
Seasonal occasions can also help you create dynamic and relevant collections for your shoppers to sift through. In the summer, consider making a vacation clothing collection, or a festival clothing collection if your target customers are on the younger side. The autumn can be wedding focused, and the winter Christmas-focused.
The likelihood of visitors looking for these types of seasonal clothing is huge, so display these collections on your homepage for immediate attention.
Draw attention to sustainable items
Sustainability is a hot topic for fashion consumers. The impact of fast fashion on the environment and the lives of the people making these products has never been more apparent to consumers. As a result, 65% of consumers plan to purchase more durable fashion items.
A huge chunk of shoppers is on the lookout for sustainable ways to enjoy fashion. Thus, this should be baked into the product discovery experience you offer. A popular way we’re seeing fashion brands appeal to this mindset is with a resale marketplace.
Adidas launched its Choose To Give Back program which rewards members for sending in used sportswear to be resold or reused.
(Source: Sneaker Jagers)
This will take some work to get off the ground, but if this is something you’re interested in, offer incentives like store vouchers for donating used clothes. You can then build a marketplace page on your store to sell these items.
Alternatively, you could look into finding suppliers with ethically sourced clothing. A collection can be created for these items and displayed on your homepage.
Figuring out the best ways to help your customers discover relevant products easily is crucial to conquering eCommerce. Fierce competition in the fashion industry makes it difficult for you to simply afford to put product discovery on the back burner.
By honing in your product discovery tactics, you’ll show your customers that your brand is fashion savvy and has great customer experiences at its core.