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Marketing Strategies for Online Clothing Stores

The fashion industry is a growing industry and marketing is incredibly important, and it is becoming increasingly easy to launch e-commerce stores. As with many things, customers have virtually infinite choices and the market is oversaturated. How can you market your site and products to stand out above the rest?

Get Your Customers to Try on Your Clothes

Getting customers to try your product is a great way to increase chances for conversion. For example, people who use dressing rooms (and therefore probably try on clothes) are seven times more likely to purchase at a store than those who do not. So are your options if you have an e-commerce store?

Mailing Items to Try On

Depending on your product, you may be able to send clothing articles or accessories to try on. Or you can send fabric demos or so on. Sizing charts can also be helpful. For example, I recently received a free ring sizer from a company I was looking at rings from, and I ended up ordering one!

Warby Parker is a great case study of a company mailing items for their customers to try on. This is undoubtedly costly, but who doesn’t love free samples? Free try ons are not unlike free samples…you’re getting value and having a fun experience on the company’s dime. They’re investing in you, and that feels good. Warby Parker sends you 5 pairs of glasses to try on, and encourages the hashtag #WarbyParkerTryOn, together which increased sales by 50%. Hashtags are a great way to create a social community.

Virtual Try-Ons

Virtual try-ons are another alternative, as it is not always cost effective nor does it always make sense to have physical try-ons, especially if you are a small business that is just starting out. Tiffany & Co created a virtual ring try-on a few years ago and it was a huge hit–it increased sales 20%. At least Brilliant Earth and Hamilton Jewelers have copied it from a quick search. Why is virtual try-on a good idea, even if you do send samples? You can better touch those leads who are kind of interested, but not interested to go to a store.

Why You Should Get Your Customers to Try on Your Products

Buying from an online retailer can be a bit hairy, especially if you don’t know what their quality is like, for example. Giving potential customers a chance to try your product before committing is a great way of inspiring trust, and also emphasizes your store’s confidence in their products.

Another unique example is a company that made an entire business model off of trying things on–Rent the Runway. In addition, there are other services that rotate clothing so you can get some new wardrobe pieces each season at a fraction of the cost. This is not something that will work for every business, but they are good examples of trying interesting things.

Based on the example of Warby Parker, getting people into your clothes helps, regardless of whether the purchaser in question is in store or online. Think of it kind of like a free trial–everybody likes a free trial.

Customer Service

Nordstrom is a big believer in customer service. Part of this is why they so heavily emphasize brick and mortar stores, but also any possible shopping channels someone could want. Nordstrom has curbside pickup which is even faster, free gift wrapping, and more, making their customer service unparalleled.

As far as customer service goes, I would also consider the user-friendliness of your site as relevant as well, because it relates to the customer experience.

Fast load times and clear navigation are a few aspects to consider about the user-friendliness of your site. Have people who are not close to the product look at your site for you–they may be able to find areas of improvement that you may miss because your view is too granular and you are too used to your site. In addition, throughout the design process, try to keep in mind how it would feel to be a user of your site.

Your online store must have good service. There must be an easy way to contact you, an FAQ, and easy to understand size charts (if there is such a thing).

Buying products online takes a bit of a leap of faith, so coming across as professional and inspiring trust in your potential customers is incredibly important. This can be accomplished by utilizing the features I already discussed, but you should also have terms and conditions and a privacy policy. In addition, it is very important that your checkout page seems professional as well, as you really want your customer to trust putting in their credit card. It is of utmost importance to make them feel safe entrusting you with their credit card and personal information.


Cross-selling is a great way to market your products and get customers to buy more pieces. Style guides are an example of cross-selling. Why would you sell one piece when you can sell a whole outfit as a package?

I worked at Nordstrom between terms at Dartmouth once, and they taught us that when you get something for people to try on, and they say they’re trying on a top to wear to a New Year’s Eve party, bring them a pair of dark jeans for example and a flashy pair of heels so they can get the full effect.

Online, this can translate into a carefully curated “You May Also Be Interested” section, that includes maybe a similar piece or two, as well as some pieces that would complete the look. If you just show them something similar they may switch it out, but they probably won’t add both. However, cover all your bases.

Online shopping is still not the main channel for clothing purchases, brick and mortar stores still comprise 80% of clothing sales. However, this does not mean you should switch or get rid of your online presence–online purchases yield 25% bigger baskets (probably due to free shipping minimums). We’ve all been there, with $80 of clothes in our cart, but $5 shipping? Nah. I’d rather spend $100 on clothing and $0 on shipping. Shipping isn’t an investment that you will have and enjoy for years, you feel me? In addition, online shopping is a quickly growing channel, especially among the younger generation according to McKinsey.

Focus on Sustainability

Sustainability is fashionable these days, thankfully.

Every consumer has many choices amongst brands. Between 2016-2019, searches for ‘sustainable fashion’ tripled.

According to a survey conducted by Nosto, more than half of respondents want the fashion industry to become more sustainable. Similarly, half of respondents said they would be more likely to purchase from a brand that they are confident support sustainability.

Sustainability is fortunately a growing trend, and one that is most likely not going to fade soon. Therefore, it is of utmost of importance to hop on the sustainability train as soon as your brand is able.

Create a Community

Virtual Community

Creating social media challenges and online communities are great forms of free advertising. For example, get people to post their best styled outfit with a branded hashtag, or share a story to win, or any other number of creative posts to incentivize your customers to spread the word about your products.

Putting the hashtag #WarbyParkerTryOn with their glasses increased shares 40%. People were asking others for opinions and so on. Of course Warby Parker had to spend money to send out these glasses to try on, but getting free advertising by sincere consumers is invaluable.

In-Person Communities

Besides virtual communities, you can also create in person communities (well, maybe after Covid!). Creating buzz and a community with events can get people to talk about your products. Events and brand experience are a great way to get people together and give them something to talk about, amongst themselves but also after. Brands should create experiences. For example, LuluLemon hosts workout classes, which is great for product demos and making your brand more interesting. If you meet cool yogis, you will associate LuluLemon with nice cool yogis. LuluLemon is a fairly luxurious workout brand. As such, someone might consider members of that community as members of an aspirational reference group. That is, they might aspire to be one of those hip, wealthy yogis. It's a club people want to be a part of. Getting them around more people like this may inspire them to purchase more to be more like this group.

Tell a Story - Do Good, Make It Personal

One of the most important things you can do in fashion marketing is tell a story, philanthropically or personally, or preferably both. If you take two very similar products, but you give one a cool story, that is the one that people are going to buy. This can be humanizing your brand and the people behind it with great storytelling, and/or by brand philanthropy. People like to buy from brands that make them feel good.

Do Good

Given the choice between purchasing from a brand that aligns with your values versus one that doesn't, you're going to choose the one that does. Philanthropy is a very important aspect of branding and marketing, especially today. Tom's shoes are a great example of a company that was doing good before it was cool by giving a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes purchased. In addition, they made their philanthropy more tangible than just donating a percentage–they made you think about the children to whom shoes would be donated. Doing good and aligning values can also be tied to sustainability. Covering all your bases is your best bet for optimizing your brand's success and social presence.

Make it Personal and Tell a Story

Thursday Boots sent their boots with a card and a hand written signature assuring quality by Antonia, who handmade the boots (or so they say, at least). I am just one person, and my opinion is not the gospel by any means, but that was a nice personal touch. It made me happy that I was helping to support Antonia’s livelihood rather than just a huge company I know nothing about, and it also speaks to the quality and care and really makes it feel handmade (whether or not they truly are, I don’t even know! But it made me feel like they are). On multiple levels, this little card made me even happier about my purchase.

Storytelling in any industry, but especially in the fashion industry, is always a good idea. Video marketing is a growing channel and is great because it is fairly passive.

Naadam wool is a fantastic example of storytelling. This is an ad that was before a YouTube video I was planning to watch, and I actually watched the full 4 and a half minute ad. And I enjoyed it. That is marketing well done. Naadam shows you the people behind the cashmere, and they all seem like cool and nice people. This ad makes you feel like these people are your friends. You'd be more likely to buy something from your friends than a robot!


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