Fashion shopping site, ShopStyle, offers 10 tips to online business startups

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Leading UK fashion shopping site, ShopStyle.co.uk, has compiled 10 top tips for budding online business startups.

The tips were devised during a recent mentoring session given to finalists of the Fringe Fashion awards for emerging fashion talent. Speakers included Sarah Bush, senior director of Europe for ShopStyle; Julian Whitehead and Debra Hepburn, founders of Young British Designers; and Tamara Sender, senior fashion analyst at Mintel.

The top 10 tips are:

1. Finding the right design for your site is crucial

Design is important and can make the difference between consumers choosing your site and avoiding it. Many sites use the same template, making it increasingly difficult for consumers to differentiate between them. Ensure the template you use remains individual to your brand and complements your products.

2. Copywriting is the best way to communicate your brand and products

It is important to remain natural with your tone and be specific to your brand and products. It is crucial to write for your consumers and not for search engines. The language must remain easy to understand and individual to your site. 

3. Good photography is essential

Photography can make the difference between making a sale and not. Imagery must be clear and nicely shot so the consumer can see how well made the garment is but also how well it fits. Photography does not have to be expensive but it is very important to find the right photographer that can provide the best shots to illustrate your pieces.  

4. Brand endorsement needs to be handled carefully

Brand endorsement can be a way for like minded brands to advertise on your site. This can help generate revenue for your site and can benefit your brand, however it is important to not over-endorse on your site. Anything over five advertisements is probably overkill. It is important you select the right advertisements to include on your site that compliment your brand. 

5. Great consumer experience is vital for a good eecommerce site

The site must remain easy to use and well presented. The mind set and mood of the consumer will impact their buying behavior, the type of items they purchase and where they choose to buy. Ensuring the site is easy to navigate and as interactive as possible, it will guarantee consumers enjoyment. 

6. Creating consumer loyalty

It is important to create consumer loyalty, as repeat custom can be vital to online businesses. This can be improved by consumer dialogue and tools allowing consumers to feel important. For us, the most successful functions are a personalised styling tool and ‘dressing up box’ (allowing loyal customers to try items before purchasing). This gives consumers time to consider their purchases and makes them feel that they are included in the process as opposed to just being another customer.  

7. M-commerce sales are rocketing and it looks set to continue to be a key trend for 2012

With one in 10 shoppers now frequently using their smartphones or tablet devices to browse or buy clothing, any retailers lagging behind will forfeit a substantial generator of sales.  It is important to have as much mobile presence as possible – whether it’s an iPad application or android-friendly. This will allow users to shop on the move and opens up new avenues for them to visit your site. 

8. Tamara and Sarah both agree that social media networks such as Facebook are becoming an increasingly important platform for retailers to raise their brand profile and connect with their audience.

You must first choose the right social media platform for your brand, and then stick to it by updating it up to five times a day. Imagery works well, as this allows consumers to see at a glance the product and doesn’t involve too much work on their end. Do not become too product-focused, use topical events and related items to compliment your brand and products. This will allow consumers to engage with your brand without them feeling they are being sold to. 

9.  Bloggers play a huge role online and are key influencers among the fashion community

It is a good idea to gain some affiliations with the right bloggers that fit your brand. This will open up a new channel for your consumers to visit your site, while also allowing you to get your message across in an unbiased manner. 

10.   Sarah also discussed the importance of using internal links on your site

Internal links work really well for SEO purposes. Ensure you include links back to other areas of your site – for example if you have a blog on your site then when appropriate link back to products.