Elevating online customer experience to safeguard fashion retail brands

Date: 10th July 2018
Author: Louise Arnold

Online fashion retail is becoming increasingly sophisticated and when it comes to website and app performance, retailers can’t afford to let their guard down. As more – and more demanding – fashion-focused shoppers turn to web and mobile for browsing/buying, retailers have to ensure the user experience (UX) is carefully managed in order to safeguard brand values and to reduce lost revenue.

Fashion website on tablet

Appetite for online fashion raises performance bar

If online shopping figures are anything to go by, Brits are spending big on fashion. According to Mintel’s Online Fashion UK Report, fashion is the most popular online shopping category with web-based purchases of clothing, accessories and footwear topping £16 billion in 2017 – and with no signs of slowing. This shift away from traditional channels presents a growing opportunity but with it comes increased expectations for elevated mobile, web and app user experience.

A unique and complex set of performance challenges

At SciVisum, we work with many high-profile fashion retailers including Boden, Jigsaw, Mulberry, Ralph Lauren, Ted Baker, Dune and Pure Collection to name a few. Our clients tell us that they can’t afford to risk costly performance issues that will not only hit them squarely in the pocket but could also negatively impact the trusted brand they’ve worked so hard to build. In our experience the online fashion industry have an exceptionally challenging set of circumstances to manage:

  1. Site complexity

Fashion sites, in particular, employ extensive personalisation to help fine-tune the customer journey, as well as video and 3D product visualisation. The sheer volume of line items, options and offer codes also makes performance testing and monitoring a challenge.

  1. Consumer expectations and social media risk

Consumer expectations are also driving innovation in the development of fashion ecommerce platforms. Fashion shoppers are incredibly tech savvy with high expectations and are well versed in social media – a dangerous combination when it comes to protecting your brand.

  1. Mobile useage

While more than 80 percent of online shoppers have bought fashion on their laptop or desktop, the Mintel report shows that mobile is rapidly gaining ground, with almost half of Millennials using smartphones – and increasingly, a selection of dedicated shopping apps – to deliver their fashion fix. According to market analyst Criterio, retailers with a shopping app generate 44 percent of their sales on mobile devices. This highlights the need to meet growing expectations for mobile customer experience.

Cultivating a mystery-shopper mindset to reduce the risk

When it comes to risk reduction and brand protection we advocate clients walk in their customers shoes; with complex websites, it’s the only way to fully understand whether the shopper is enjoying the best experience possible or encountering issues along their online journey.

  • A realistic monitoring solution should include the ability to test journeys that interact with your site in the same way as genuine users  – everything from selecting items to choosing sizes and colours, as well as navigating the checkout process and performing this on the real browsers used by desktop and mobile devices.
  • A small glitch – perhaps in the application of a promotional code or a hidden button on a smartphone – can swiftly progress from irritating to catastrophic if it remains unresolved. By testing multiple journeys that change each time across multiple devices, issues that are adversely affecting performance can be quickly picked up, isolated and fixed.
  • Even where online retailers have APM technology in place, this shouldn’t be used as an alternative to more comprehensive performance monitoring. While an APM may deliver basic performance related data, it doesn’t have the sophistication to test complex functionality, replicate real user behaviour and identify the genuine problems experienced by customers at a specific point in their journey. Read more about out how SciVisum monitoring differs from APMs.

What next?

Check out our case studies below and discover how we help leading UK fashion brands get closer to their customers’ real-world experience – enabling them to reduce lost sales and protect their brand.

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