14.06.2013 Top 5 tips: Digital success for retailers

As high street sales dwindle and online retailers go from strength to strength, the use of mobile and social media in shifting products is more crucial than ever.

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Hannah Jones, a graduate in International Fashion Marketing and former Missbehaver staffer, offers her top tips for success. 

With the buying public working longer hours and spending more time accessing the internet on the move, offering a transactional app and mobile site is becoming more important than ever before for retailers of all sizes. And brands that use social media well can reap the advantages in terms of sales and brand awareness.

Yet, broadcasting one-way messages about products just won’t cut it. Innovative ideas must be at the heart of social media strategy in order to keep followers interested and loyal.

Here are my top 5 tips for digital success for retailers, looking at what they can learn from the fashion industry.

1. Post regularly

While posting regularly keeps a brand fresh in consumers’ minds, posting too often can result in an ‘Unlike’.

The online retailer Missguided is regularly to be seen in their fans’ newsfeeds. ‘Style Hour’, behind-the-scenes views of photo shoots, street style and ‘Celebrities wear Missguided’ are regularly posted throughout the day across the brands’ social networking channels, an approach that has secured them almost 500,000 followers.

Missguided social media

For independent retailers, raising your profile with potential customers can be a challenge on limited marketing budgets. But intelligent use of social media can make this easier. Oi Polloi is a great example of a menswear indie that has embraced social networking, engaging with customers and regularly keeping followers up-to-date with product news across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The recently-launched clothing range ‘Nutmeg’ by Morrisons, was not promoted on social media. The Nutmeg Facebook page to date has a meagre 126 ‘likes’ and last posted in April, meaning two months of potential awareness building has been lost. Though Nutmeg is a young brand, it is interesting to compare Morrisons’ approach to that of Tesco, which has increased clothing sales by £1.5m directly from social media use.

2. #Hashtag

Generating a relevant hashtag is an effective way to raise awareness.

topshop #whosthatgirl

Topshop generated a buzz for their Christmas 2012 collection with their #WhosThatGirl campaign. Tweeted in the lead-up to the collection’s release, the campaign had the fashion industry and customers guessing the identity of the model fronting the campaign.

Pictures taken from unusual angles, none focussing on the famous IT girl’s face, were drip-fed on Twitter and Instagram, with followers guessing her identity in their many thousands. This tactic by Topshop certainly got fashion tongues wagging and created a tangible sense of anticipation for their collection. Combining a competition or quest with a memorable hashtag is a great way to make your message go viral.

3. Get App-y

ASOS app

After technology, fashion is the fastest-moving industry in the world and combining the two to generate maximum sales is an obvious step.

Online fashion giant ASOS has three apps; one transactional, one augmented reality and one magazine app. As ASOS is an online retailer, it is vital that the customer experience is enhanced and appeals to their young demographic by being accessible on multiple channels. ASOS’ suite of apps ensures its credibility in its target market.

Apps such as Go Try It On, where users upload pictures of a garment that they’re unsure of when shopping alone have proved a hit. If this isn’t enough, music recognition and tagging app Shazam is to branch out into the fashion world with the launch of their fashion app. Similar to Shazaming music, users will soon be able to identify an outfit seen on television. Great news for fashion junkies everywhere!

4. Go mobile

M&S mobile site

Appeal to the smartphone generation by going mobile.

M-commerce sales are rising and if a brand doesn’t have a mobile site, developed especially for mobile or tablet use, they’re missing out. M&S is a brand that has embraced mobile – its optimised site has over 24,000 products to browse and buy. Everything is listed by department and the site is fast and easy to use. Convenience is everything for busy customers on the go. Make sure your site has been extensively tested and makes the browsing and purchasing experience as painless as possible.

5. Pretty as a picture (or video)

The target market for different retailers will vary, but consumers of a specific brand will generally have similar interests. Hipster favourite Urban Outfitters has recognised this and created different boards on its Pinterest page to appeal to their demographic, pinning everything from music to food and drink.  Pinterest and Vine are ideal platforms to inspire, educate and motivate customers to buy. It’s worth experimenting – just make sure your content fits in with your brand.