Over the past few years consumers have moved in droves from shops, malls, and High Streets to the Internet. Everything from designer fashion to electronics, books, telescopes, antiques and all natural beef can be purchased online. Shopping online has even completely replaced fighting crowds during the holidays for the most enthusiastic online consumers. As online shopping and the Internet overall have become more sophisticated, online fashion brands have constantly innovated new ways to present their products to consumers.
There are several challenges to shopping for clothing online that were not immediately addressed by the first online clothing shops. How do you know how the t-shirt will fit? What will the fabric feel and drape like? How will this skirt move when I walk and bend? Would this shade of purple look good with my hair color? These questions could hardly be addressed by the simple, 2D photos of early fashion websites.
Fashion Websites Step it Up
Since shopping for clothes online isn’t easy, fashion brands have innovated several ways to enhance interaction with their products and spawn online participation and community. Now, instead of a simple 2D photo of a piece of clothing, it isn’t uncommon to see zoom in features, multiple views of the item, or even a short catwalk video showing the clothing in motion. Isabella Oliver, a designer maternity clothing brand from London, provides short catwalk videos for every product on the site. Videos like these help women get a better idea of what they are buying, reducing the amount of returns because of unmet expectations.
Another way fashion brands are reaching out to customers online is by building a community and encouraging interaction with their brand. Whether it is by starting a “behind the scenes” blog about the designers, asking for customer reviews and testimonials, placing surveys and polls on the site, or becoming present on a social network, fashion brands are engaging and listening to their customers online. This has even enabled some clothing designers to run their shops solely online. By building trust, community and providing great service, some designers need never open a traditional store.
Videos Enhance Clothing Shopping Online
Online videos have become extremely popular with the boom of YouTube and other video sharing websites. Savvy fashion brands have picked up on this and transformed the online video medium to fit their needs. Videos are a great way to show off clothing, giving hints on how to wear certain items, or illuminating the newest trends. Difficult pieces of clothing warrant how-to videos, like this short and simple clip about wrapping a maternity top that can be found on the right side of the product page.
A Look to the Future
As time goes on and shopping for fashion online becomes more prevalent, the user experience is only going to increase in quality. This is an attempt to close the gap between the experience of shopping at the store, and shopping online. The more a customer feels like they are interacting with the product through videos, community interaction, and great customer service, the less they will feel the need to actually see something in person before they purchase. As shopping for fashion online evolves, online fashion magazines that are similar to offline media may combine with interactive content like blogs and surveys to mesh traditional offline fashion information and online shopping.
Online retail is sure to continue evolving. Innovative retailers will surely begin seeing the benefit of bringing shoppers favorite offline information sources into their online storefront. Online magazines, TV shows and clips, and related fashion tips are perfect ways to blend offline and online interaction. The Internet continues to make life easier, and the savviest retail shops will take advantage of all the newest interactive possibilities.