Increasing the discoverability of an online fashion business

Benefits of creating a digital presence for your fashion business, increasing the discoverability of your brand and in turn achieve organic growth.  

The fight for shopper acquisition is strong among fashion businesses.  Target audiences are bombarded with ads, remarketing and a constant stream of cart abandonment notifications.  When focus is heavily on the transaction, the opportunity to connect in the early stages of browsing is missed. To have a shot at building a relationship with a potential shopper, some dynamic content tactics need to be in play.

On her way to work, Lucy finds out her best friend Jess got the promotion she wanted and she would love to celebrate on the weekend at a newly opened bar.  Lucy replies with emojis and congratulations, she knew Jess would get it. But, what to wear? They hadn’t been out in a while and she thought something new would be nice to pep up her confidence.  She has a few days to find something cute, and so the inspiration stage begins.

In 2018, Salesforce and Publicis.Sapient published a fascinating report on customer behaviour citing a whopping 87% of shoppers begin product searches on digital channels.

This is why relevant content (text and image) is important in fashion. By ensuring topics and tags featured across a site are optimised for search engines, this will increase the discoverability of a fashion business and Lucy finds something stunning to wear for a night out.

There are a few foundational steps to increase the chances Lucy comes across an outfit based on her preferences and search criteria.  It’s important for retailers to understand what she is searching for and the language used, then fashion businesses can hone in on delivering relevant content to people in their target demographic.

No 1.  Establishing a digital presence in fashion

The fact that most people are starting their buying journey by searching online, shows it’s absolutely critical to have a digital presence. Only using social media such as Instagram or Facebook just isn’t enough.

Browsing typically begins with simple queries typed into a search engine.  In Lucy’s case she’s looking for something like, or is keen to be inspired by pieces that are categorised as ‘short glam party dress with one shoulder.’

Results are shown based on websites targeting specific keywords and upload original content and or products regularly.

Fashion businesses targeting keywords featured in the shopper query appear more prominent in the description. Encouraging a shopper to go directly to those websites, because #relevant. The likelihood of Lucy finding what she’s looking for is much higher than an ad promoting generic ‘dresses’.

From this point, she checks out a website and dives into browsing all the beautiful things.  The longer you can get Lucy clicking around a site, products, recommendations or perusing other digital touchpoints the better. This may include reading a blog, subscribing to a newsletter, scrolling Instagram and Pinterest.  Then the brand has a great opportunity at starting to build a genuine shopper connection with Lucy.

However, feeding search engines content they like is the next important part.  But, if cutting corners comes to mind by duplicating or copying descriptions, then just beware search engines have incredible algorithms separating the good from the not so good.

No 2. Optimising content for search engines

Search Engine Optimisation can be a hefty task to manage and a great place to start is by making note of 10-15 keywords in line with the business’s core product or service offering.  

Here is an example list for a multi-brand fashion marketplace – womens fashion, professional womenswear, nine to five, loungewear, athleisure, premium loungewear, luxury intimates, womens occasional, party outfits.

These are all pretty stock-standard keywords, however you can add long-tail keywords, which are bundled keywords in the shopper’s language.  The search query Lucy made previously makes up long-tail keywords.

Google Trends is your friend, get to know it well, it will help you greatly in keeping keywords on trend.

From there, generating descriptions for website pages and products communicate what a business does and what it’s selling.  Search engines scan for these descriptions and load as the text under website results. See below as an example.

No 3. Helping shoppers search websites better

Once shoppers land on a site, it’s up to the content, attributes and tags of products to guide the browsing experience, make a connection and transition to a purchase.  

In 2005, psychologist Barry Schwartz presented a Ted talk based on his book ‘The Paradox of Choice.’ In summary, Barry explains what happens when product/service providers offer a multitude of options to citizens, it can be counterintuitive and result in fewer sales.  

Going back to the long-tail keywords, attributes and tags set for products should reflect those words.  Fashion terms typically stay the same over time, however variations occur as trends emerge. Streamlining attributes and tags (create a glossary of common clothing terms) ensures consistency across an online store and bundles similar products together.  Providing a more personal product recommendation rather than endless scrolling of party dresses. Lucy doesn’t have time to look at everything, nor do many others.

It’s still relevant today that citizens are feeling stuck by the paradox of choice.  The indecision to make purchases, mixed with a fear of missing out then maybe a sense of buyers remorse.  

As a fashion retailer, rather than focus entirely on how to get more sales, switching the mindset from selling to building trust won’t take away from the business.  

Rather, and more importantly for the longevity of the business, it will create loyalty and advocacy.  For Lucy means feeling a whole lot more confident that’s who she wants to shop from again, and again.

No 4.  Focus more on organic growth over paid

Organic growth takes time and an invested effort to achieve, but it’s worth it.  

Thomas A. Edison once said “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

When marketing tasks are implemented for a transactional return, such as paid advertising, the underlying message could actually communicate “this ad has been deliberately placed here because we want you to buy this thing you saw 5 sites ago,” and this is on repeat.  Whether it’s relevant or not, a company is willing to pay a lot of money to communicate a disingenuous message, thousands of times.

In 24 hours, Lucy found and purchased a gorgeous one shoulder party dress from a popular fashion site because it was the most relevant search result to match her query and offered a great selection of similar products. She also loved the shopping experience because of the extra content that appealed to her.  These were in the form of interesting blog posts, on-trend social channels and attention-grabbing conversational emails. All the activities and touch points, when executed with value in mind, work harmoniously together to create a memorable shopping experience.

The goal is to strike a balance, use paid advertising with empathy and follow through with great content, relevant descriptions, an optimised site and awesome social channels to turn a customer into a shopping bestie.  

The Okkular team have developed product attribute tools especially for fashion ecommerce businesses. By automating the tag-generation process, it helps small and medium sized businesses increase discoverability with potential shoppers and accelerate business growth organically.