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Online Merchandising:Topshop case study

EDITD case study: Topshop. Email newsletters are a powerful visual merchandising tool & can help the apparel industry apply data to understand trends.
Online Merchandising:Topshop case study | EDITED
  • Topshop newsletter 13th April via EDITD

Email newsletters are, without doubt, an incredibly powerful tool for engaging your customers and directing them to product. But just how successful are they? Do the email campaigns of your competitors’ actually shift the products they promote and attract consumers to social channels? Our Visual Merchandising and retail monitoring software lets us understand how a retailer’s various newsletter formats are received.


Topshop are consistent with the frequency of their emails, sending out 9 or 10 a month. They currently have a few different layouts, including brief, single product blasts, their ‘Style Notes’ campaigns and their ‘Edited’ emails. So how do they compare?

1. Style notes
These emails are packed with separate stories and links, and usually encourage the consumer to browse a featured trend lookbook, and shop a feature, a category and specific products. They’re engaging with a mix of branded photoshoot, street style imagery and give attention to segments like accessories, jewellery and make up.

The image to the right shows Topshop’s 13th April Style Notes email, which we’ve analysed the ‘success’ of the various components, based on whether they’ve achieved sell through. Across Topshop’s range, the average number of days it takes for a product to sell out entirely is 69.6 days – this is a good measure of comparison when looking at the sell through rate of the products featured in this newsletter, sent out less than a month ago.

The main crop top featured in the header image of the 13th April newsletter wasn’t actually in stock when the email was sent – only arriving in store on the 24th April. Topshop did direct those that clicked through to a big selection of crops, but this can be confusing to the customer. Their ‘Fashion Future’ email of the 21th April, with its ‘Those Modern Nights’ feature, was so futuristic that the attention grabbing leather skirt still isn’t in stock. The photoshoot imagery featured require much planning, so it is a shame they aren’t positioned for maximum return.

The second story is an accessories feature, pointing consumers to a magazine-y shoppable feature. The £65 ‘Glad boots’ from this selection sold out of 6 of their 7 sizes by the 4th May. After this are smaller stories which don’t take up full width, and in these comes the first single product focus; a statement necklace. The £45 necklace sold out by the 3rd May even though the email link went through to a selection of statement jewels (proof, if needed, that Topshop needs to make sure the images in their headers are in stock!).

Beneath this runs a simple line of ‘New In’ products, with no text description or prices, just links to the specific item on the site. Here we see the most sell-through success. The £36 zig zag t-shirt sold out of three sizes on the day of the email (two other sizes were already out when the email was sent – could another similar product been featured to avoid customer disappointment? Maybe). The featured £85 metal heel sandals sold out of all but one size by the 4th May.

This is an area of the email which sees repeated success for Topshop, and specifically those products which sit in the middle two spaces. In the ‘Go ’50s Americana with Railroad’ [sic] email of 28th April, the £40 Daisy Leigh skinny jean sold out of 13 of 19 sizes in under a week of the email’s delivery.

Topshop also increased their online following by 0.45% (an increase of 17,521 followers), during the week they sent out their cropped top newsletter.

2. Single product focus
Topshop’s ‘Spring Is In and So Are Dresses’ email, which linked to a selection of dresses and whose imagery simply featured a red floral tea dress, was emailed out on the 24th April. The £42 dress in the image was (thankfully) in stock, because it completely sold out within 12 days of the email being sent.

Topshop didn’t just reap rewards on the featured product, they also found value in capturing consumer’s eyeballs for future campaigns and interactions. During the 7 days after the email, the retailer’s online following increased by 0.6%; a total of 23,617 new opt-in followers.

3. ‘Edited’ newsletters
The third notable newsletter format Topshop employ is their ‘Edited’ selections of product, which are usually capsule outfit looks handpicked by Topshop staff. The featured garments have their product name and price listed and link through to their page on Topshop’s website. The garment images are reshot, not simply lifted from the site, which gives this email format a stylish feel, not unlike a blogger’s edit.

The Edited pick, sent on the 12th February, had mixed success; the £10 cropped tee sold out of sizes 6 and 8, six days after the email was sent, and has since been restocked. 4 of the 7 sizes of the £50 side buckle sandals had sold out by the 28th March (still far swifter than Topshop’s 69 day average) and the Mix Match Sweat Dress at £38 sold out of two sizes within five days of the email. The clutch and skirt in the selection didn’t lure as many consumers; both were reduced – the clutch by 46% and the skirt by 37%.

Unquestionably, it is the variation in format which keeps Topshop’s customers opening their emails, but knowing which segments work best means they can be built into a successful merchandising schedule without losing traction. How well do you know your competitors tactics?