Five steps to ecommerce success in the fashion industry

It’s nothing new that the growth of the fashion industry has been voracious: its market share is expected to increase by 9.8% per year before hitting a total market size of $835.8 billion by the end of 2023. But with this rapid growth, challenges arise.

The state of the industry is in flux as digital innovation, market fragmentation and rising demand for environmentally sound goods and unique products all challenge the status quo. Beyond this, customers are craving community and connection. This means that delivering on logistics and price points alone is simply not enough.

But how can you stay ahead of the curve?

Use a loyalty program to differentiate your brand and give shoppers a reason to return to your store, engage with new products and keep topping up their wishlists.

In this post, we dive deep into five strategies you can implement to make the most of the challenges and opportunities the fashion industry poses with the help of a loyalty program.

They are:

  1. Create a VIP shopping experience
  2. Personalise their experience
  3. Encourage photo reviews and user-generated content
  4. Align your loyalty program to your beliefs and brand
  5. Encourage referrals and advocacy

Let’s jump in.

Strategy 1: Create a VIP shopping experience

Fashionistas love to feel special. Use your loyalty program to create a bespoke, VIP experience just for them.

Our research shows that, on average, over 53% of a store’s total revenue comes from just 20% of its customer base. If you pander to your existing customers who have already shopped with you and make them feel valued, they will tell others about the great experience they’ve had – converting others into becoming your next set of brand fans.

Use your loyalty program to reward these top-tier customers by giving them points to redeem on real-world perks such as exclusive discounts, first-look access and surprise gifts such as a birthday treat.

Beyond Retro, for example, has a four-tiered system where customer get better monetary and experiential perks as they move up.

Customers in “Level 1” get birthday vouchers, two double point days and access to exclusive competitions. Then, as customers move up, they get more special perks including free delivery and even, at the top tier, 48-hour early access to sales.

Beyond Retro Tiers

Putting your most loyal customers in a special tier with enticing rewards will let them know you value their repeat custom and, in turn, they will purchase more to move up – thereby improving their customer lifetime value.

Strategy 2: Personalise their experience

Shoppers are crying out for personalised ecommerce experiences. According to one study, more than 70% of US consumers expect some sort of personalisation from an online business – and they’re not afraid to give up their personal data to get it.

Fashion customers enjoy being made to feel special and engage well with personalised shopping experiences. From customised product recommendations right through to communications and storytelling, it is important for your message to connect with an individual’s preferences.

Using a loyalty program allows you to collect the data on your customers that will enable you to highly personalise their shopping experiences.

Information such as a customers’ previous purchases, items added to the basket, abandoned items and page views all mean you can better tailor product recommendations to cross-sell and up-sell items.

Lingerie brand, Lively, send their customers personalised emails right into their inbox when their points are about to expire. These emails show customers the points they need to use, when they’re going to expire and some personalised rewards they could redeem the points on.


Strategy 3: Encourage photo reviews and user-generated content

In a world where we open up Instagram and start scrolling while standing in line for the bus, it’s not surprising that many consumers – particularly millennials and Gen Zers – share a lot of their lives on social media.

However, we’ve become jaded with influencers peddling teeth-whitening products and diet teas and view their endorsements with scepticism, sure that some kind of cash-for-product placement exchange has taken place behind the scenes.

As a result, consumers are craving more honesty, transparency and authenticity, both from influencers and the brands they buy from.

Use your loyalty program to reward customers for sharing their real experiences with your brand on social media or as photo reviews. 84% of millennials report that UGC on a company’s website has an influence on what they buy and that they trust it 50% more than brand-created content.

Photos taken by real people act as an authentic endorsement and showcase how your product looks, functions or fits in real life.

With 85% of customers finding visual UGC more influential than brand photos, it’s easy to see how reviews from real people can serve as an inspiration to others.

Astrid and Miyu share images from their own community wearing their products on their own social channels. The captions celebrate their customers and thank them for their images. This way, customers can see their products in the real world and will, therefore, trust their quality.


Strategy 4: Align your loyalty program to your beliefs and brand

Consumers seek authenticity and purpose when they choose where to spend their money.

Shoppers today are more aware of shady dealings and unfair working conditions and are unafraid to call out brands who fail to meet certain standards. In fact, 57% of customers will even choose to buy, or boycott, a store based on the brand’s position on a social or political issue. It is no longer enough to communicate the purpose and benefits of a product; brands must integrate values and purpose into their messaging.

Customers today want businesses with purpose,” claims Tory Burch, an American designer and entrepreneur. “Obviously the product has to be A-plus but it’s also really what you stand for and what you believe in.

For this reason, fashion companies must use authentic storytelling when communicating with their customer base.

Your loyalty program can be a fantastic way of communicating your brand values to your customers. From welcome emails that envelop customers into the community to the brand tone and colour palette, it’s important to take time to build an authentic connection with your customers.

Taylor Stitch welcome customers to their loyalty program with an email that communicates their mission statement: “Responsibility built for the long haul”. They also communicate how they’re dedicated to solving environmental challenges, use recycled materials and encourage fair working conditions.

Taylor Stitch Email

Strategy 5: Encourage referrals and advocacy

Once you’ve gained the trust of your consumers and actively made them a part of your brand’s community, they’ll be excited to tell other people all about you. Gaining the loyalty of people who are willing to spread the message for you is essential because 84% of consumers don’t like or trust messages from traditional advertising.

Loyalty programs allow you to reward existing customers for referring friends to your online store. Encouraging engaged customers to act as advocates on your behalf is powerful, as peer-to-peer reviews are more influential than any advertising you could put out yourself.

TheCHIVE have placed friendship referral and advocacy front and centre in their loyalty program, rewarding customers 1,000 points for referring.

Thechive Referrals

They have even also gamified the experience. By completing on-site actions, such as submitting GIFs on their photo-entertainment website, customers get added to a leader board where they compete based on the number of points they earn. This simple strategy makes customers excited to be part of their community and encourage others to sign up.

The Chive Rules

The answer to securing loyalty in the fashion industry

Due to market saturation, increased demand for mindful goods and unique products, fashion retailers are facing fresh challenges, despite continued growth. Those that are succeeding are the ones working hard to keep existing customers on-board and engaged.