The world is in the middle of a mobile retail boom, with the majority of UK online sales coming from mobile devices, according to latest IMRG data.
The fashion industry is at the head of this wave, as clothing is the most-searched-for retail category from mobile devices.
That trend is igniting the opportunity for many retailers, old and new. ASOS sales grew 17% to £1.1bn last year on strong mobile growth, but the high street’s New Look, too, reported a ‘significant shift’ to mobile.
Others are playing catch-up, however. At Burberry, which announced falling profits last month, the company is only just planning to introduce an mCommerce app this year.
So what can retail marketers everywhere learn from the fashion industry’s pioneering spirit?
1. Ask the audience
mCommerce isn’t all about sales, it can also inform product development, helping brands understand what consumers are likely to buy – before they have even been produced.
ASOS is already ahead of the curve. Its app includes a preview feature, showcasing yet-to-be-released designs – and inviting feedback in a straightforward, Tinder-style reply. You like the look of that white jumpsuit with epaulets? Swipe to tell ASOS bosses.
Pre-release feedback gives retailers real data with which to pick from under-consideration products, reducing uncertainty and wasted costs, allowing brands to get their merchandising right and something we actively encourage brands to offer.
2. Test and learn
Nothing is set in stone. In fast-moving digital media, any feature can be tweaked and changed, for any number of users. Technologists are becoming used to concepts like A/B testing – giving alternative interfaces to two sets of users, to see which converts best.
That’s something Very.co.uk, the second-largest dedicated online fashion retailer, does with aplomb.
Its ‘labs’ team is continually testing new user experiences, introducing new buttons, colours and features – just to test if it’s working as effectively as possible. If you operate at the scale Very.co.uk does, even a 0.01% conversion uplift is a considerable boost to the bottom line.
3. All-in with omni-channel
These days, consumers expect a joined-up shopping and customer service experience, no matter what the medium. They expect stock levels to be accurately reported online and in-store.
John Lewis excels by replicating its exemplary offline service reputation digitally, through a consistent experience across channels, leading to a 34% bump in mobile sales last year.
Channels are not mutually exclusive – the company says online sales increase in towns where it opens new stores.
4. Content sells
Your consumers have always read magazines. So, why not make your own and control the content, with your own custom publication, inside mobile?
H&M may have been late to the handheld market, but is catching up by hitting the right tone with its fashion content.
Its Magazine looks and reads like a glossy fashion supplement and its curated lists of trending items are designed to get social media users triggers consumer footfall to its mobile store.
5. Pictures are worth a thousand words
Nothing sells clothes like good photography. Buyers need to see items in detail, especially on a device as small as a smartphone.
Clothing is unique among retail products, as it’s something you can’t imagine without seeing it worn by someone.
Therefore large, detailed photos of modelled clothing are essential. That’s why so many mCommerce apps are becoming image-led. No matter what your sector, re-focus on your photo gathering.
6. Get personal
Customers don’t want to wade through listings for items they will never need. These days, consumers used to Amazon’s recommendations expect to see products that fit their expectations..
Net-a-porter nails personalisation with an app boasting a tailored experience for individual users. No wonder nearly half of its sales come from mobile.
Recommendations are easier for users to demand than for retailers to deliver. Giving consumers the listings they expect requires strong underlying product data and heavy lifting through processing.