Fashion is one of the fastest growing e-commerce segments in the world. Apparel and accessories currently account for $50 billion in annual sales in the United States and is projected to top $70 billion in 2016. Being in the hotel industry, we’ve got a lot to learn from our fashionable counterparts when it comes to e-commerce best practices. Here’s our list of the top five:
1. Selling not just a product, but a lifestyle
The website Refinery 29 is a mecca for all things fashion related. Not only can you shop the latest trends, but the website is home to great fashion-related content. Refinery 29 masters an integration of story and product — you are not buying just a t-shirt, you’re buying the total image. For the hotel industry, the saying “heads in beds” should no longer be the ultimate goal. Telling customers the story of the entire travel experience should be just as important for hoteliers.
2. Easy purchasing process:
Amazon is famous for its 1-Click ordering. When placing your first order with Amazon, your payment and shipping information is stored, allowing you to make any future purchase with just one click in the future. This simplifies the check-out process for repeat customers, eliminating the unnecessary step of entering your information every time you make a purchase on the site. Though 1-Click is actually patented by Amazon (effectively preventing any other e-commerce sites from using this method), their remarkable conversion rates with 1-Click ordering highlight the importance of making the actual online buying and check-out process easy and efficient. Many fashion e-commerce sites have adapted a version of this, allowing repeat customers to login to a personal account that already payment and shipping information saved. Imagine if hotels could make things this easy for repeat guests!
3. Limiting options for better browsing:
We’ve written a previous article on how offering too many choices can actually overwhelm customers and prevent them from buying. Fashion e-commerce retailers often have hundreds of different items in stock, so it’s especially important that users be able to browse efficiently. Zara, one of Europe’s largest fashion retailers, understands this important aspect of site usability. Not only can shoppers sort by gender and type of clothing, they can also choose whether they want to view products in columns of two (less options) or six (more options), with two as the default option. Whether you’re booking a hotel room or buying a new pair of pants, limiting choices can prove to be highly effective for conversion.
4. Strong focus on imagery and functional design:
Searching accessories on the Colette Malouf website is a very simple process. With large images of the product and a hover feature that shows the price when you roll your mouse over the item, the customer knows exactly what they are getting and at what cost. There is no need to click back and forth for pricing and further details of the product. The clear and detailed imagery allows customers to envision themselves wearing a piece from the Colette Malouf jewelry collection. Likewise, a traveler should be able to see themselves sitting on the balcony of their oceanfront hotel room. The customer shouldn’t be left to imagine these details themselves. Whether it’s jewelry or a hotel room being sold, let the images do the talking for you.
5. Excellent customer service:
In fashion e-commerce, there are countless examples of brands that provide excellent customer service. Nastygal, an online-only fashion retailer recently named one of “the fastest growing retailers” in Los Angeles, takes advantage of social media to answer customers questions and concerns. Zappos, one of the country’s largest online fashion retailers, is well known for its exceptional customer service. From going to rival shoe stores to find a specific brand for a customer to overnighting a pair of shoes to a best man the day of the wedding, Zappos is known for going to “insane” and often funny lengths to make customers happy. Although it’s often hard to make good customer service happen in an online realm, it’s definitely what sets companies apart. All industries take note!