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Smart retail – raising the online bar

EDITD present their pick of digital heroes in the fashion arena. Which retailers are killing it with their online nous? Who's grasped social on the next level?
Smart retail – raising the online bar | EDITED
  • Smart retail – raising the online bar | EDITED
  • Smart retail – raising the online bar | EDITED
  • Smart retail – raising the online bar | EDITED
  • Smart retail – raising the online bar | EDITED
  • Smart retail – raising the online bar | EDITED

Online moves fast: you either sink or you swim. Our Digital Merits are awarded to the following brands and retailers for smoothly, confidently and swiftly getting onboard with methods at the digital fore to make e-commerce all the more enjoyable. They’re the ones playing right into the hands of the Gen Y consumer and they’ll be the ones smugly grinning whilst the laggers catch up!

Instagram innovators
We love the realtime nature and immediacy of bringing hash-tagged and geo-located images together in one place, which is why we teamed up with photos whizzes, Teleportd for our Bread & Butter coverage last month. It’s fantastic to see retailers latching on to the power of crowd-sourcing approval. Eco-friendly retailer Free People and Australian hipsters Black Milk have shot out of the starting blocks, incorporating hash-tagged customer imagery into their commerce sites. It’s a really smart move, giving the Gen Y customer the pre-purchase validation they need. Showing ‘normal’ people in their purchases also helps consumers suss out the fit, gives them styling ideas and creates hype. It can also help up-sell other products from the range and cleverly lets customers market the brand for free – spreading their images through their own social network.

There’s also good opportunity to use these images to guide product development within the brand. How are your garments being styled? What gaps in your range could be addressed? Sure, it may take a while to browse through the images and there is no way to generate analytics from them (which is what we like) but it’s consumer research, delivered to you!

Free People also deserve recognition for incorporating  futher persuasive devices into their site. Customers can create wishlists to share with their friends across social networks (and get that much sought after peer approval) as well as create their own moodboards of products from the collection. Polyvore bears testament to this being a really powerful way of getting eyeballs on product, so good work Free People for delivering it straight to your commercial site!

Review reactive
Not only do most fashion e-commerce sites have functions for sharing products to social networks (with Facebook likes and tweetable links) but many now have areas for customers to review products post-purchase and ask questions. It adds depth to the online experience, giving something you don’t get in store. For brands and retailers this can mean fewer returns and exchanges and hopefully more purchases. A Digital Merit goes out to Topshop for understanding that customers value popular products. They sent out a newsletter on the 17th July titled ‘Our top rated dress as voted by you’. The printed shirtdress featured has scored a ‘unanimous five out of five stars’ and features a reviewer’s quote. Following the email, the £40 dress has sold out of three of the six sizes and a pink version is sold out of one size. It’s interesting to see that there are actually only two customer reviews for the product – but it’s a technique that works! The high street customer want to buy popular stuff, tap into it.

Social savvy
Our final Digital Merit goes to another Australian retailer (the Aussie’s are clearly starting to react to ASOS’s arrival on their shores!), Jay Jays. The youth retailer has this week launched a new digital initiative which features stop-motion, shoppable videos. What’s really impressive is the brain power they’ve put into using Facebook in a commercial way. Their ‘Multiply the Colour’ tool requires customers to log in through Facebook. Next it scans the customers Facebook images to judge which coloured denim from their extensive range best suits the customer. Jay Jays recommends the shade for you based on your ‘character’, for example we were told we’re ‘happy, positive and spontaneous’ so the ‘Sunkisd Orange’ would work best! Customers are then encouraged to post to their Facebook page and get their friends to agree or disagree. Even though we didn’t indulge in the Sunkisd selection, it’s genius marketing, so full marks go to Jay Jays.

The online world is getting incredibly exciting. Fasten your seat belts and get ready for the ride!