eCommerce Trends to Act On Prior to Peak Shopping Seasons

We highlight 8 trends that your brand should be aware of to optimize your eCommerce experience before peak shopping seasons hit.

We are just saying what everyone else is thinking, what a crazy year to be in the apparel industry. eCommerce was already on a steady growth path, but the COVID-19 pandemic launched this channel to 10-year expectations in mere months. Amidst the closures of brick-and-mortar storefronts, brands have hustled to align their business strategy with what has become the new norm over the past year.

There is one main question brands are asking themselves now, is eCommerce here to stay, or can we expect to see brands transition back to a brick-and-mortar storefront and wholesale distribution channel? There is a certain nostalgia that comes with the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, but here at WAIR, we are 100% bought in on eCommerce.

Tumultuous Retail Year Sets the Stage for an eCommerce Takeover

As the world attempts to approach a sense of normalcy and with peak shopping seasons (end of summer sales and back-to-school) on the horizon, it may be time for brands to take a look at their game plan. Earlier this year, Shopify highlighted 11 trends to keep on your radar for 2021 in this article. Below, we'll revisit a few of the trends and discuss how WAIR can help brands achieve these initiatives.

                                          Conduct Rapid Shopper Research

eCommerce shopper insights provided by WAIR

Design teams utilize shopper review information to help optimize product offerings. One of the primary challenges for apparel brands is a lack of understanding of shopper body types. For example, assume a shopper was recommended a size small but instead ordered a large and ultimately left a review saying the product was oversized.

Without knowing the body dimensions of the shopper, the design and shopper insights teams are missing a critical piece of information by which to make improvements to the product. WAIR can help align these datasets empowering these teams to quantitatively make important decisions with contextual data.

Bring In-Store Experiences Online

Shoppers purchasing clothing during the eCommerce peak shopping season

The eCommerce industry has worked very hard to achieve shopping 2.0, taking the very best of brick-and-mortar and deploying it on-site by utilizing digital-only opportunities. One of the most challenging in-store experiences to port into the eCommerce space is the fitting room. A true virtual fitting room experience is unlikely to be universally adopted in the near future due to costs, equipment needed, and privacy policies.

However, a solution like WAIR can help shoppers order their best-fitting products by answering a few questions about their body type. This process gives shoppers the same confidence in sizing as a traditional (in-store) try-on would. Most importantly, there is no measuring tape needed, and the shopper's information is secure and anonymous.

Rethink Marketplaces

A product page on an eCommerce shop

Historically speaking, the brick-and-mortar or wholesale world was primarily driven by large retailers and department stores as the pipeline to successful brand launches in the apparel space. With the move to D2C eCommerce, the large retailer's hold on the ultimate success of an upcoming brand has diminished but should be learned from.

Large wholesale partners forced D2C brands to pay for placement in their endless catalog of goods. With the ability to attract and acquire new shoppers directly, be sure not to fall victim to the same "endless scroll." Acquisition of new shoppers is the expensive portion of eCommerce, so creating loyal repeat shoppers is key. By personalizing the online shopping experience, brands can provide a differentiated service that every shopper will enjoy time and time again. Loyalty programs and perks, customer support, and suggesting viewable products that align with the shopper's fit and style preference are all small steps in the right direction.

Diversify Payment Options

An eCommerce performance infographic

One thing is clear; alternative payment options are here to stay. Whether payment plan services like Afterpay or Klarna are a part of your roadmap or a try before you buy service like BlackCart, these solutions are meant to increase conversions, period. Unfortunately for apparel brands, increased conversions can easily lead to increased return rates which will decrease overall profitability and sustainability efforts.  

As brands think through alternative payment options to increase conversions, it's imperative they don't lose sight of the importance of keep rates as a KPI. Brands should look to package a payment option tool with a tool that helps them increase keep rates for a valuable and profitable toolset. Shoppers will appreciate the customized and flexible shopping options and appreciate the brand's approach to becoming more sustainable.

Value Ethical eCommerce

Clothing and mannequins in a store

The apparel industry is one of the highest material waste and CO2 emission contributors in the world. As sustainability continues to take center stage, shoppers are demanding that their favorite brands align with the best environmental practices. Reducing design sampling, minimizing the use of toxic dyes and washes, appropriately managing inventory, and finding ways to reduce return packaging and trip transportation are all factors to consider. 

WAIR helps brands at every stage to optimize ethical and environmental practices. From deploying digital 3D avatars to designers, helping with regional size runs to increase sell-through rates, to ensuring shoppers order their best-fitting products the first time, we believe that fashion sustainability doesn't have to be a myth. Learn more about our three-step program towards becoming more sustainable in this article.

Develop Creative Advertising Strategies

Tracking body types by social platform

As D2C brands heat up along with the rise of balanced omnichannel shopping, it is likely that we will see a decrease in return on ad spend (ROAS) as keywords and audiences face more competition in the ad space. It is important for new brands to think about advertising differently. How can one hyper-target shoppers, provide valuable and engaging content, create a shopper referral network through social media channels, and ultimately create lasting shopper loyalty?

Several brands using WAIR's Fit Advisor have doubled down on their ad efforts by highlighting the ability to cleanly and efficiently recommend the best-fitting products to potential shoppers. Furthermore, we've seen our brand partners use their shopper's demographic information (captured by Fit Advisor) to align sizing strategies to hyper-target audiences by the body dimensions that are likely to best fit their feature products. Whatever ad strategy brands may choose to creatively stand out in the crowd, they must be aware that bids are on the rise and shoppers are too familiar with traditional ads.

Our insider tip? Think like a shopper, and build an experience that you would also love.

                                          Ensure Performance is Optimized on Every Level

Performance metrics from the peak shopping season

Microseconds are microseconds. They matter when brands integrate several tools that compound and eat away at them. Brands must check the load times of their pages, apps, and plug-ins to ensure their page loading strategy is enhancing the user experience, not dragging it down.

Prioritize tools by thinking through what tool would be most valuable to keeping shoppers on-site and always focus on overall page load time. No tool is worth a higher bounce rate due to an avoidable long site loading time. The spinning wheel may have been ok in the '90s, but it is a death sentence now. WAIR's Fit Advisor solution is compatible and customizable for most eCommerce themes, and our product team is constantly releasing updates to improve the site speed and functionality of the solution.

Pay Attention to Headless eCommerce

Don't sleep on headless. eCommerce engines are amazing and solve so many repetitive problems, but as CEO of WAIR, Greg Moore's dad always told him when it came to sports, "You can play them all, but then you'll never be a master at one."  eCommerce engines like Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento, Salesforce, etc. have developed powerful stacks, but beware because within those stacks lie bloat.  

Headless sites, when developed correctly, will always outperform a theme developed in an eCommerce engine. Brands must pay close attention to the shopper's needs. If they constantly hear that the brand's site is too slow, images aren't loading, see an increased bounce rate or abandonment at a specific segment of the shopper journey on the site, they must take action.  It is becoming more common and valuable to go headless.

Recap

eCommerce is no longer a game that a brand dabbles in to acquire a diverse set of shoppers. Last year has proven that eCommerce has the ability to soon become the lifeblood of commerce itself. We have highlighted these shopping trends to urge apparel D2C brands to think through the tools they are offering as we approach peak shopping seasons. A thoughtful structure and utilizing the right tools for one's brand from initial marketing contact to conversion are imperative to becoming profitable.

Never forget that size confusion is the number one reason why new shoppers size sample or churn/abandon a cart for apparel brands. WAIR's Fit Advisor can completely remove size confusion for shoppers and has proven to decrease size-related returns once integrated. Learn more about how WAIR can improve your future-facing eCommerce strategy and join the list of brands that care about fit.

Interested in learning more about WAIR? Schedule a demo here and be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram , LinkedIn, and Facebook for all your fashion content needs!

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