1) Reach markets in other countries
E-commerce extends point of sale reach into locations in which your brand is not yet present with a boutique. These may include developing countries or non-metropolitan areas, offering opportunities in China, Brazil, Russia and Saudi Arabia to name just four countries considered ‘Ready and willing’ to engage in e-commerce by A.T. Kearney’s 2012 E-Commerce Index. With a proper investment in facebook ads, google adwords and banner ads, along with an extant social media editorial plan, it is possible to target new customers in these regions.
Case study: read how Kate Spade became a global brand by combining social media and E-Commerce (Mashable article).
2) Direct business has higher margins
Forbes’ recently published an article on Three Future Waves of Innovation in E-Commerce for Fashion & Apparel in which the author illustrates the potential for a margin growth of 56% in two years for fashion companies entering E-commerce. This speaks for itself. By eliminating the middle man on SOME sales, you have not eliminated him entirely, but you compensate for lower bricks and mortar sales by opening up to new markets and new types of consumers.
3) Market research and a direct channel to your customers
Data from E-commerce sales provides you with important feedback about which products and variants are most popular overall and by geographic area, helping you better understand your market, target your future styling, and tailor production resources.
Furthermore, E-commerce is in line with your social media platforms in that it provides non intermediary feedback about your product. In this way, you have total control over the satisfaction of the consumer about your brand.
4) Directly measurable conversion from social media
If you’ve invested in a social media campaign and you don’t have an E-commerce, you have only taken half the step towards harnessing the power of social commerce and word of mouth marketing. Here are just three ways that media and E-commerce are your best friends.
- As the visual is a strong factor on platforms like facebook and pinterest, it is possible to create direct conversion by adding a link to purchase the product pictured online. Your social media manager can see what images work best and continuously adapt to effective techniques to increase sales.
- Capitalize on investments through blogger engagement (product comps or paid placement) by linking products mentioned online to where people can buy them. Bloggers will be more likely to work with you.
- Your current e-mail marketing lists can also be used to generate and measure conversion into online sales.
If you want to measure – and increase – the ROI of your social media investment, opening up to E-commerce is the only solution.
5) Sell the whole collection with an online lookbook
E-commerce is an online lookbook that allows both final consumers and wholesale clients to see the entire collection at leisure and without pressure, providing longer life to the collection and greater potential for sales.
By suggesting outfits (combinations, accessories, similar items), the final consumer is likely to find more than one item to purchase. Deals like free shipping over a certain order price encourage this mentality.
Wholesale buyers who ordered just a few pieces suggested by your agents might reorder a larger assortment given the opportunity to browse the collection with high resolution photos, carefully organized sections, and product details.
6) Use your online shop as a wholesale instrument
Relevant to the previous point, you can use your online shop as a sales instrument also for wholesale or boutique clients, who can apply a wholesale code to order in-stock items for re-assortment. This may streamline your current reorder process and steer them towards in-stock rather than to-be-produced items.
7) Worldwide seasonal sales strategy
Online you can create a worldwide sales strategy by making the previous season’s collection available online to “reverse season markets” (in particular Australia and New Zealand). The availability of off-season products is also useful for the travel and cruise market.
8) Satisfied customers who find what they want
Online, availability is your friend. You can offer a deeper assortment of sizes and colours beyond those typically ordered by boutiques, in this way satisfying the needs of plus size customers or people with different colour preferences than those typically carried by more cautious wholesale purchasers.
Your online store is open 24/7, when insomniacs, busy businesswomen and bored holidaymakers want to shop. In fact, in the USA, 65% of users declared that they prefer buying online in a 2011 consumer survey by Channel Advisor, and numbers have been growing as consumers are always more used to navigation and interaction online.
9) Better Brand image
Having an E-commerce increases online visibility by increasing brand trust and showcasing the brand story. This is done successfully by combining website, E-commerce, blog and other social media platforms, as well as storefront and packaging, with a consistent visual and editorial plan.
Examples: Both Gucci and Burberry have seen major growth since investing in E-Commerce, though the British brand has outshone all luxury brands with its strong social presence, thanks to the forethought of the new CEO who entered in 2006 (see this article in CNN Money).
10) Sell your available stock in the online outlet
Once an online buyer has arrived at your site, she is liable to browse for other objects of interest, and the ‘sale’ and ‘outlet’ section is a popular destination. Increasingly budget-conscious consumers are justifying luxury purchases by buying them at discounted prices. This habit can match your stock of previous season items, or be encouraged by occasional discount codes and specials offered to facebook fans and other client types.