3 E-Commerce Tips for Apparel

You can hear the groans now.  Time to go to the mall.  The kids need new shoes for school, you are due for a new suit and you have a laundry list of other things to freshen up in your closet.  After 10 minutes in traffic you are already starting to question your judgment.  After three prime parking spots have been stolen right out from under you, you’re sure this is a terrible idea.  Finally, after navigating a stroller and a dozen shopping bags through mobs of teenagers and crowded food courts, you promise yourself you won’t be returning.  If only there was another way... 

With the emergence of e-commerce as the preferred way to shop for clothing and apparel, there is a convenient alternative to the mall.  On-line shopping is seeing double digit growth year over year, ending 2013 up 16.9%.  More and more people are choosing the comfort and convenience of their laptop, tablet or phone to make purchases.  This makes the apparel sector ripe for disruption.  This disruption is coming in the form of e-retailers.  While this is a growing sector, it is also quite competitive.  Here are three tips that can generate success in your e-commerce apparel operation: 

1.)    Leverage Data:  A key advantage in e-commerce is its ability to collect massive amounts of valuable data.  Information is constantly collected, everything from prior order histories to algorithmic trends in what consumers or certain demographic sectors are interested in.  This data can provide valuable insight on pricing, inventory and overall operational decisions.  In fact, over 46% of consumers now use social media when making a purchasing decision.  The data collected from customer orders can be used to strategically market your brand and increase sales.

2.)    Promote Transparency:  A major tradeoff that consumers make when shopping online is the peace of mind that they are directly exchanging their hard earned money for a tangible item.  Keeping your consumers informed on the ordering process is critical for repeat business.  A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey shows that 55% of shoppers order online for fast and reliable delivery.  68% do so because they trust the company they are ordering from.  Having systems and access in place to trace every step of the supply chain is crucial.  Making that pertinent information available to your consumers is a must.

3.)    Control Costs:  A major benefit that e-commerce can claim over traditional retail outlets is its minimal overhead cost.  Without the burden of a brick and mortar location and the cost of employees on the ground, these savings can manifest themselves in lower prices for the consumer.  71% of shoppers believe they will find a better deal online versus in a store, per a Mashable e-commerce study.  While there are still costs involved in site maintenance, marketing, inventory production and fulfillment, it is crucial to control these as much as possible.  A streamlined supply chain with a focus on visibility and transparency can not only maintain, but enhance cost savings as key differentiator. 

While the e-commerce landscape is constantly evolving it is becoming a prime opportunity for the apparel industry.  As business models are adapting to this new revenue stream, key partnerships can play a vital role.  The logistics and fulfillment operations for e-commerce organizations can provide a competitive advantage when streamlined and managed with the appropriate resources and knowledge.  Barrett Distribution Centers specializes in the athletic apparel and footwear sector, with an emphasis on e-commerce solutions.  For more information, click here.