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Style is everything when it comes to marketing fashion and beauty brands online. Consumers expect visually rich product presentations and easy ways to compare options like colours and sizes.

That’s why online merchants selling fashion and beauty products are at the forefront of implementing new ecommerce strategies that highlight their products in high style.

Just like they do on the high street, they fill their online storefronts with scintillating features that allow shoppers to browse colours, styles, silhouettes and patterns, with advanced search results, sorting options and merchandising tactics that help visitors quickly find the products they need and convert them into buyers.

Based on our recent research with fashion, beauty and apparel clients, we’ve gathered several best practices for creating the kind of compelling online experience found on the best fashion and beauty online shopping sites.

For brands in other industries, these tactics can be used to boost customer satisfaction with your own website.

Create a consistent experience

Shoppers build loyalty to your brand when they see a consistent look and feel across all channels, including ecommerce and mobile commerce sites, and all your site pages: home page, search and navigation, product, landing and shopping cart pages, as well as in your marketing and advertising campaigns.

This consistency ensures your customers always know what to expect, which strengthens their familiarity with and inherent value of your brand.

Use colour to sell

Colour is a key determinant for fashion and beauty purchases, not to mention other market niches like furnishings and gifts.

Add colour swatches to search results to help shoppers see options without having to click on them over and over again. It saves them time, which they can spend shopping and buying.

Luxury retailer Harrods lets its customers search by colour, and then see their chosen product in other shades simply by mousing over colour swatches under the product images in the search results page.

View many products quickly

On the high street, shoppers love to browse racks and shelves of clothing. Online, they want a similar experience, viewing a wide array of products quickly and easily.

Site search with Quick-View features can replicate the real-world browsing experience, and helps customers see products up close before they decide to buy. For instance, when shoppers mouse over images in search results, a pop-up window can show a larger photo, as well as product details and an add-to-cart button.

It’s a smart way to keep shoppers focused on browsing through results so they don’t leave your site.

Share other content

Shoppers can hesitate to purchase items that need to be tried on, like cosmetics or clothing. But if you encourage them to read information beyond the product description – like blog posts, videos, and user reviews – they can be more assured that they’re making the right purchase.

Adopt slang and synonyms 

Just like different age groups have their own slang words and vocabulary, so do different retail industries. In other words, if you want to not only gain credibility with your customers but also make sure the right products show up in their searches, you need to use their language.

Monitor your site search data to match products with the keyword terms that your visitors enter in the search box – and add them as synonyms within site search. (Be sure to also include common misspellings!) 

Provide refinement options

Fashion and beauty consumers like to browse, and may use broad keyword terms like “jumper” or “boots” to start their searches. To help them manage their searches, give these shoppers refinements for brand, size, style, age, colour – whatever’s appropriate for the product mix –  to narrow down product options.

Women’s fashion retailer Boden lets shoppers refine search results by body shape or top-rated products, for example.

Encourage mobile searches

Savvy shoppers want to find cool new products whenever the urge strikes them, and mobile devices help feed this need. Be sure you don’t miss out on this audience, and put your site search to work to make shopping on your mobile site or app seamless and simple.

As you implement these advanced, engaging approaches on your own online storefront to improve your own site’s stickiness and online conversion rate, be sure to measure the full impact of these site search and navigation changes with A/B testing to make sure your new features are working.

Vishal Srivastava

Published 7 March, 2013 by Vishal Srivastava

Vishal Srivastava is Team Lead - European Sales at SLI Systems Ltd and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (2)

Pete Williams

Pete Williams, Managing Director at Gibe Digital

we are finding that brands want to follow the crowds in terms of layout and user experience assuming that larger companies in their sector have done lots of user research and testing to develop their sites. Unfortunately this isn't always true and for a lot of retailers it's a case of the blind leading the blind. As developers we always want to find the best way to improve the user experience while matching the expectation of our clients. Sometimes a tricky line to walk!

over 3 years ago

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Charlie

ASOS is surely industry leading here with the use of not only video catwalk content to help customers view product as much as possible without actually being able to try it on, but also with a wide variety of search refinement options. Good to see Topshop also improving their UI by finally showing product on actual models, I can assume this will only have a dramatically positive impact on conversion (hopefully enough so to offset of using said models). Retail is finding it's feet and starting to do a really great job with what is a great product to market.

over 3 years ago

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