Opinion5 Challenges in Fashion eCommerce that Social Proof can Fix Today

By 

Marjorie Leonidas

 on 

November 9, 2017

Social proof is helping major eCommerce fashion brands to use the power of the crowd to increase sales conversion rates. Read how real-time product messaging could solve some of online fashion's biggest challenges.

Our customers Very, SimplyBe, Missguided and JD Williams have been early adopters when it comes to using social proof. They are now using it to tackle some new trends in online fashion sales.

Fashion eCommerce Analysis Paralysis?

2017 studies show that our online behaviour has changed. A joint paper called "The Empirical Economics of Online Attention" (University of California, Harvard Business School and Indiana University, 2016), found that it’s becoming rare that we’ll sit down and dedicate a prolonged period of time to internet surfing. We now browse in the same way we snack, grazing in short bursts, with online time becoming filler activity in between getting dinner ready, before bed or heading into work.

This ‘snackable surfing’, coupled with the amount of online choice - especially in fashion, where in the UK at least, 54% of the 65 million+ population bought clothes or sports wear online in 2016 - and you’ve the challenge of being overwhelmed by choice as a consumer, making decision times longer and creating a frustrating user experience.  It’s something that eConsultancy calls ‘The Tyranny of Choice.’

How Retailers Control Snackable Fashion Surfing

For retailers, the parallel challenge is how to sustain consumer attention on their products and close a sale, when hopping between sites, or defaulting to the big online amazons, is becoming the norm.

Applying social proof improves eCommerce results. It can help reduce abandonment, and improve sales, and can be quickly implemented site-wide to crack some of the most common problems in online fashion today.

If you’re new to social proof, here’s a quick summary. Social proof is the concept that as humans, we base our behaviour on the actions of people similar to us. As human beings, we’re naturally social. Even before the an age where shared our weekend brunch and summer break across social media, academic and psychological studies prove that we are influenced by our peers. And the extent of that influence increases the more we have in common with our contemporaries, and the higher the regard in which we hold them.

Apply that to eCommerce, and online fashion today. It’s fast moving, it’s trend-based. Shoppers are not only looking at what’s onsite, but their style references come from social media, from magazines and vloggers, from their search engine, from brands, friends and what people the street are wearing.  Influencers are all around us, and that can be both inspiring and problematic once it comes to making online shopping choices.

Here are five ways that Taggstar is helping eCommerce fashion brands to improve conversion rates by using the unique influencing power of the crowd:

1. Avoid discounting by promoting the hottest trends before they’re outdated

We know that selling must-have playsuits (for example) while they’re trending is important to your bottom line. We also know that in fashion, maybe more than any other retail sector, stock has a short shelf life, but that you need to sell your whole product catalogue to keep stock management efficient, and to turnover older styles before you are forced to discount.

We work with fashion e-tailers who attach social proof messaging to the items that they want to promote. They use trending messages like ‘45 people have bought this in the last week’ and ‘200 people have looked at this today’ to show the number of people who have purchased recently or how many people are currently viewing the product.

Equally, we also work with these retailers’ conversion optimisation teams to tag, merchandise and promote a particular category or style, as an additional channel for their their specific seasonal, sale or trend marketing campaigns.

2. High fashion returns are hurting profits

Fit-related and quality-related returns cost fashion retailers millions in lost revenue and operational expense every year. People also return clothes because they’ve bought the wrong colour or because it’s not what they expected. The list goes on.

We’ve formed partnerships with software provider like BazaarVoice and to draw on powerful credible, crowd-sourced information like quality reviews, fit reviews, ratings and purchase history to convince shoppers who’re wavering about whether a product is right, to make the right choice, first time.

We’ve seen how using happy customers as third party influencers to endorse a product is a successful way to close the sale.

3. Your shoppers are indecisive

It doesn’t matter whether the customer is buying online or on the high street, procrastination is normal. Where high visitor numbers creates high excitement, converting them to paying customers is highly frustrating, especially when basket abandonment now averages 69.23% (2016).  The story behind the statistic is our fear of making the wrong choice (alongside the annoyance of last minute hidden costs). We’d rather abandon our sale altogether rather than risk choosing the wrong thing.

Before we reach abandonment, there’s a pattern of shopper indecision. It’s usual for customers to visit a page several times, prolonging the window between research and sale. You see online product choice can be overwhelming. Even the most self-controlled shopper, who thinks they know what they’re looking for, can be thrown off course once they’re inundated with choices.

Social proof messages are used to influence the sale by giving customers maximum product information, helping them to distinguish between the huge catalogue of choices available. We also effectively apply it to create a sense of urgency when inventory levels are shown. This reduces procrastination as consumers recognise that they need to make a decision, or potentially lose the item.  

If the customer see the combination of messages:  “28 people are looking at this right now” and there are “only 10 left”, the real-time nature of the messages allows the customer to make the choice to buy or miss out.

4. Consumer’ attention spans are getting shorter...and shorter

The same 2016 study also found that we devote more or less the same time to online activity each week. If something new comes along, we don’t extend our online time, but we shift our attention to the new site at the expense of old sites.

In this framework, consumer loyalty becomes a sensitive subject. Fashion sites are frantically competing for consumer attention as website browsing has become what the researchers call ‘filler activity’ - something that’s done in between offline activities like homework or cooking.

In these short windows of attention (which are even shorter if you’re selling to teenage girls), social proof messaging equips e-tailers with the ability to reinforce why the product is right, and engage shoppers before they jump offline.

It’s very important that the messages are audience-focused, using the right tone of appropriate, responsible language, so that consumers feel informed rather than pressured. This is precisely why we test hundreds of message combinations to understand what works best for a retailer - and their customers - to reduce decision-making time and to increase overall conversions.

5. You want to make the most of the latest market craze

Congratulations. You’re first to market with a new style. It’s all over the vloggersphere, and the search term is trending. How do you convert the clamour into cash?

Adding social proof to products lets you  by signposting and highlighting the popular, trending items that everyone covets. Because our messages are based on actual, factual shopper trends, you can make it easy for your customers to spot and snap-up the latest fashion craze.

Depending on the product you’re selling different messaging may techniques work. If for example, it’s an on-trend fashion item, messages about the quantity left in stock, or how many people have bought it in the last hour are proven to boost consumer confidence measurably. As a bonus, we have also measured that abandonment rates are lower and final checkout totals are higher when social proof has been used, as shoppers are more confident. Kerching!!

Summary

Across the online brands that Taggstar works with, sales conversions average a 2.7% increase when social proof messages are shown, in an A/B test against product pages that don’t display the information. We don’t need to asterisk or footnote that. We can statistically-prove it.

Not in fashion? Read our guidance for retail and travel eCommerce.

Find out more how Taggstar could support your fashion eCommerce business, and ask about our free trial. Contact us here.

The leading international eCommerce brands using our software, can’t be wrong.

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