What’s an eCommerce strategy with the right tools and technologies you may wonder? Well, I couldn’t agree more. So having extensively discussed the evolving landscape of the fashion and apparel industry in our previous blog, we now move on to the technology landscape.
We live in an age where we want everything personalized. Be it a playlist or personal movie recommendations from Netflix, we simply cannot do without tailored choices. So why should fashion and apparel be any different?
Statistics confirm that 71% of consumers feel frustrated when their shopping experience is impersonal and 74% of consumers feel the same way when website content is not personalized. Accenture confirms 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that come up with relevant offers and recommendations while Statistica reports that a whopping 90% of consumers in the United States find marketing personalization pretty appealing.
The fact is all of us are wary of things that are uninteresting or irrelevant but keep coming our way. Why would we want to suffer a barrage of unwanted emails or messages or anything that just packs in more stress into our busy days? 70% of millennials find irrelevant emails frustrating while 55% of consumers enjoy the email experience provided it comes with targeted promotions and discounts. Such is the power of personalization though you need a bunch of tools and technologies to personalize and curate targeted campaigns.
You need to understand the consumer, and to reach them with what they need, calls for some serious prep work. So with little ado, let’s get into the must-haves so that your technology stack is just how you would want it to be to get your fashion and b2b apparel eCommerce business up and running.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
There’s a reason AI-based eCommerce platforms like ewiz commerce are becoming extremely popular. Modern shopping is all about chatbots and touchscreens. They are being used in physical stores too and bridge the gap between businesses and customers.
AI is just what you need to enhance the shopping experience as it enables you to keep a tab on several things such as customer data, trends, purchase behaviors. It uses algorithms to closely monitor customer journeys and then approach them with the right products.
AI has got to be the most important tool in your arsenal if you wish to tighten your grip on profitable avenues like trend forecasting and supply chain management. So if you wish to do some real-time inventory tracking to manage your warehouse efficiently, AI helps you with its powerful data prediction tools.
While giving you a competitive advantage, it also gives you a chance to look into the latest trends to plan for the right styles and quantities. For instance, it’s summer and you know white T-shirts are going to be in full demand. AI allows you to plan and stock them so that you can cater to bulk orders as well.
The British fashion label FINERY offers automated wardrobe planning tools that keep a tab on purchases made by female customers to help the company plan their debut in a virtual wardrobe. Women get a chance to plan the perfect look as per mood and occasion while the brand enjoys greater control over its inventory.
Most eCommerce platforms are helping customers search for their favorite products by setting filters for specific keywords, sizes, fit, and price points through convenient navigation. AI-driven personalized search feature helps them find what they want and even if they don’t, they are offered the closest matches to the product they have been searching for.
These are invaluable offerings and competitive differentiators that help you make your mark in the eCommerce domain. Historically, brands have always relied on past trends to predict the future but AI has changed all of that, giving e-business owners new avenues to tap into the preferences and expectations of millennials.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Nothing makes the exchange and connection of data over the Internet as smooth and efficient as IoT. An exciting technological trend that the fashion eCommerce market is going gaga about, it helps e-business owners take convenience and comfort to a whole new level. In a hi-tech era of smart clothing, wearable technology, and responsive sportswear, we now see the ‘real’ and the ‘digital’ coexist in a symbiotic manner. IoT enables data sharing, inventory management, security, and greater operational efficiency that go a long way in creating a cohesive customer experience.
IoT facilitates better tracking, and logistics so that you can fulfill customer demands on time. You get to track customer orders from the time they are placed to the very moment when they get delivered. You can locate goods no matter where they are and even look into other details such as traffic status, weather, and other aspects pertaining to logistics to ensure that you can fulfill orders on time. Shipping and delivery are important factors as they can make or break your reputation.
While optimizing vehicle routes, IoT enables eCommerce business owners to track missing orders. They also get real-time information of their stock thanks to smart shelves and other inventory monitoring features. IoT has been helping biggies like Amazon automate checkouts as with Amazon Go.
Customers simply shop around virtually and the cost gets billed to their smartphones. Besides, there are predictive systems too that help you determine when customers are likely to shop again based on their shopping lists and you can accordingly keep the products ready for purchase.
Virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR)
VR and AR have been helping brands reimagine customer experience as per the changing tastes and appetites of millennials. Digital showrooms are on the rise and a digital try-before-you-buy is now becoming the norm.
Customers can now literally visualize themselves in the products they choose to get the feel of owning them. Not to mention the accuracy it gives them, ensuring fewer returns or exchanges. These features are helping brands retain customers in an economy where customers are eager to switch brands all the time.
Social media is a big thing for millennials and most of their choices are based on what they see on social media. AR and VR technologies are helping eCommerce brands create 3D and 360-degree shopping experiences on their mobile stores, websites, and social media. Says Janosch Amstutz, CEO of augmented reality startup HoloMe, “Fashion brands can create the psychological sense of presence using high-quality digital experiences in a way that was only previously possible with physical runways and fittings.”
VR and AR are helping brands pivot to immersive storytelling with amazing ease. Brands are now allowing customers to shorten their search for the perfect fit by using integral aspects of a design such as sketches that are morphed to simulate 3D renderings. A classic case in point is Optitex that allows customers to use this novel method to adjust the fit in real-time.
In the United States alone, the retail eCommerce revenue touched an estimated $110.6 billion and is expected to go up to nearly $153.6 billion by 2024. Without proper data, it would have been impossible to arrive at these numbers, right? It was rapid data analysis that helped most companies bounce back despite the trying circumstances that resulted from the pandemic.
While many e-business owners agree on having data, few know how to use it. Data analytics can however help businesses adapt and improve. They can receive real-time feedback and act upon it. There would be complaints, suggestions, queries and these would require proper monitoring methods to ensure you make good use of all the data you are collecting.
Data analytics help you optimize your funnel to raise awareness and improve engagement. Data analytics will help you understand how much awareness you are generating, which channels are driving this awareness, and how new customers are engaging with your brands/ products.
You need to however focus on the right metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to get data pertaining to impressions, click-through rate (CTR), bounce rate, average session duration, and pages visited per session. These metrics give you an idea of which channels are giving you more traction and revenue, how many customers you’ve gained so far, the number of new email subscribers, and the cost per acquisition.
Be it cost analysis or channel analysis, none is possible without data analytics. Modern eCommerce platforms connect their data to Google Analytics to help you determine where you stand, how aware/ unaware customers engage with your page, the conversions you have had from each channel, and factors that prompted those conversions. Conversion analysis helps you plan more effective marketing campaigns while keeping the marketing costs fairly low.
Mobile commerce (mCommerce)
Mobile commerce is a big deal everywhere what with the number of smartphones growing at an annual rate of 7 percent and over 1 million new smartphones on average coming into use every day. Smart wallets have made it easier to pay and transact online while marketplaces on social media have brought their communities closer to what they need. Fashion apps are revolutionizing the online sales industry giving users as well as sellers greater power, comfort, and convenience.
Although mobile is the future, many business owners are lagging in their mobile optimization initiatives. Mobile commerce puts you in the big league in no time if you invest in the right strategies to boost it. For effective mobile commerce, you need mobile-responsive stores with perfect layouts, themes, design, and navigation.
Your mobile store should be designed in a way that you offer a seamless shopping experience to your customers no matter where they shop from. You need to combine the convenience & utility of a mobile app with the clarity & impact of desktop browsers to increase engagement and boost conversion rates.
Reports Insider Intelligence, “Consumers are reliant on digital devices now more than ever, and Insider Intelligence predicts that mobile will inch closer to becoming consumers’ preferred channel for online shopping within the next five years. M-commerce has the potential to become a major channel for shopping and to change consumer shopping habits.”
To get a perspective on the importance of mobile commerce and the adoption of modern tools and technologies, stay tuned for our next blog.
Up Next: Top 20 statistics pertaining to fashion & apparel B2B eCommerce