Fashion designer LaQuan Smith is accustomed to rating things—clothes, fabrics, styles—and luxury is his domain. So when he rates his brand’s e-commerce performance “about a six on a 10-point scale,” the designer sees room for improvement.
The fact that e-commerce sales are just “OK” is something Smith says he wants to change. In hopes of achieving that perfect 10, the brand redesigned its site twice in the past year.
Smith has sold his clothing designs, which can range from $179 to $2,000 per garment, direct to consumers online at LaQuanSmith.com for the past five years, plus he sells his pieces at seven bricks-and-mortar boutiques. The LaQuan Smith brand does not have its own physical stores or sell apparel anywhere else online.
A year ago, LaQuanSmith.com wasn’t very user-friendly, says Jacqueline Cooper, vice president at LaQuan Smith. For example, consumers couldn’t easily navigate the site because it lacked filters to make searches simple. The site also loaded slowly and often would crash when consumers tried to check out, she says.
After two months of working with its e-commerce platform provider, BigCommerce Pty. Ltd., the retailer relaunched its website and unveiled it at New York Fashion Week in February 2016. In addition to more filters for easier product search, the new site is lighter, meaning it has a clean look with more white space, plus it loads faster, Cooper says.
During the fashion show, attendees could see a LaQuan Smith look on the runway and immediately buy it on the new site. Typically, it takes four to six months for the designs to make it into stores, Cooper says. On the day of the fashion show, LaQuanSmith.com’s conversion rate increased 200%, Cooper says.
For 2016, the retailer is on track to generate $500,000 in online sales, which is about a 53% year-over-year increase, Cooper says.
Allowing consumers to immediately buy products off the runway not only boosted sales, but also gave the retailer insight into which of its products would be a hit next season.
“As an emerging brand, it really helped forecast what would be popular in stores and what to pitch the buyers,” Cooper says.
In November, LaQuanSmith.com updated again, this time focusing on how the site would look on a mobile device and then scaling to how it would render on a desktop, instead of designing for a large desktop screen and scaling down. The retailer also integrated quick mobile checkout out feature Apple Pay onto its site to speed up mobile shopping.
Mobile is a focus for the retailer because 80% of its sales are made on the devices, Cooper says. Part of the reason for the brand’s strong mobile sales is its 73,400 Instagram followers, who typically cruise the social media network on smartphones, she says. For example, if one of Smith’s garments generates a lot of likes on Instagram, the brand will feature that design on the e-commerce site’s home page so consumers don’t have to look for it while browsing on their small screens. Also, if a celebrity pops up on social media wearing a LaQuan Smith design, the retailer will feature that design on the site’s home page.
Publicity has helped drive sales for LaQuan Smith, Cooper says. For example, in 2015, Forbes Media LLC included Smith in its 30 under 30 issue, which brought many shoppers to the e-commerce site and then some made a purchase, Cooper says.
Smith also made an appearance on the season premiere of the “America’s Next Top Model” TV show. When the episode aired, the site’s traffic spiked to almost 6,000 views–94% of which came from consumers accessing it from a mobile device–which is close to the site’s monthly average over the past three months, according to data from digital analytics firm SimilarWeb.
For 2017, the retailer will continue to use its Instagram following to generate traffic and sales, as well as have its designs ready to buy off the runway, Cooper says. New site features will also roll out, although she would not specify them. The retailer continues to use BigCommerce for its e-commerce platform, and the cost of the services ranges from $30 to $200 a month, depending on the retailer’s online sales, the vendor says.