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Retailers, take note of mobile this fashion month
Jamie Crespi
Jamie Crespi
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Paris Fashion Week is here, giving the most extravagant brands the opportunity to display their collections, and – ideally – encourage buyers to buy and ultimately, drive consumer traffic to the stores that carry their finery. But are these well-known brands ready to make the most of the month?

It would appear most fashion brands are not quite ready for the stroll down that particular runway.

A recent study by consultancy BCG revealed that on a scale of 1-100, most fashion brands achieved an average score of about 45 when it came to digital marketing excellence. While some were great at either targeting and personalization, or creative and content strategy, or analytics — no single brand excelled at all three.

That’s bad news, because fashion shoppers are ahead of the curve when it comes to making purchases online. New research suggests that fashionistas have pushed the industry past its mobile tipping point, making 46 percent of online purchases on mobile devices, versus 44 percent on desktop. Fashion retailers, it seems, have a set of obstacles ahead of them that even the most sophisticated marketers would find challenging, so not only does the industry need to catch up, it needs to forge ahead – quickly.

Obviously, mobile website optimization is the first hurdle to address. Shoppers generally spend about 164 seconds on a mobile site, while they’ll spend 239 seconds on desktop. Therefore, mobile pages need to load quickly, shoppers need to be able find what they’re looking for within a few seconds, and checkout processes need to be clean and seamless.

Now, assuming that’s all set, what’s the best way to capitalize on the crowds of fashion enthusiasts in London, Paris, Milan and New York this season?

Location data can be very useful in reaching attendees of particular shows and driving them to boutiques. Fendi, for example, could geofence their show, then message attendees within the week, inviting them to an exclusive in-store event – perhaps an opportunity to meet the designer or share cocktails with its runway models. (They could also stealthily target attendees of competitors’ shows in an effort to woo new fans.)

Some brands got creative with their mobile strategies during New York Fashion Week. Newcomer Honoré is a size-inclusive fashion retailer that sells its clothes exclusively online. In partnership with Shopify, the brand offered attendees of its debut show a catalog featuring QR codes so they could easily shop runway looks on their mobiles after the event. The pair also set up a convenient pop-up store in the city.

In an even more ambitious move, that capitalized on the trend toward high-end sneakers, Nike recently opened a SNKRS pop-up store in Atlanta, catering to users of its SNKRS mobile app. The store, which will stay open through March, provides app users exclusive access to new and exclusive drops of shoes and apparel. Nike will use its Shock Drop app to push notifications to SNKRS users about shoe availability. The app offers additional features that shoppers can use in-store – including access to a unique SNKRS-related vending machine. Nike states that the store is “the physical manifestation of the SNKRS app.”

Those are some exciting ideas that legacy fashion brands can build on – but there are more mobile strategies that fashion brands can execute to improve shopping experiences.

Brands can leverage mobile in a number of ways to not only attract new customers, but to create better, more personalized experience for all their shoppers. A recent Blis white paper Driving In-Store Traffic & Purchases through Digital Channels offers several suggestions that fashion brands might adopt:

  • A combination of beacon technologies and Bluetooth allows marketers to track shoppers’ locations and send out personalized recommendations and alerts when they’re near a boutique or other store carrying the brand’s products. Using this tactic, a window shopper on Rodeo Drive could be alerted that the dress she viewed online is now in-store and in her size – and just a few doors away. This sort of predictive intelligence can create an enormous advantage for fashion retailers.
  • Location-based resources – which every retailer should offer – give shoppers the power to find the nearest store carrying the items they want, and even show what’s in local inventory. Localized online customer service is also a helpful tool to increase both sales and overall customer experiences. During Fashion Month, this could be particularly helpful for brands that are streaming shows: customer service reps can be specially trained regarding the items featured on the runway, their sizing and their availability.
  • Integrating location data into content marketing can be particularly powerful during and post Fashion Weeks if used to engage visitors to one of its host cities and or to engage with the brand once they return home. Marketers can tease relevant images from the runway or showroom to fashion-lovers who are in the city, enticing them to visit stores or events, even if they haven’t yet attended a show. And follow up once they know who was at the show with relevant ads later on.

The fashion industry may be lagging in mobile sophistication today – but now’s the time to catch up. Fashion encourages all of us to take risks in everyday lives; now it’s time for fashion marketers to push their boundaries. Location data is a beautiful place to start.

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Jamie Crespi

Jamie Crespi

VP Marketing, Americas | Blis Jamie is responsible for leading the US marketing efforts by providing creative market planning and execution that maps to the sales and product strategy. She is responsible for all client and prospect marketing communication in North America and working hand in hand with the US sales team to drive revenue.