Take the time to emphasize and establish trust with consumers and build that relationship by continuing to deliver relevant recommendations to each customer.

Greg Zakowicz senior commerce marketing analyst, Bronto Software

Greg Zakowicz senior commerce marketing analyst, Bronto Software

Consumers are on the move, and their expectations are higher than ever, thanks to supply chain innovations pioneered by fashion industry front runners. Speedy product development and great logistics management have helped brands like Zara and Uniqlo expand their brands’ presence and popularity in North America, bringing new benefits to consumers and new challenges to retailers.

Today’s consumers expect far more speed and accuracy from the brands that market to them. The challenge: How do fast fashion retailers balance speed with consumer preferences and incorporate both into their digital marketing strategy?

It’s About Balance

There’s no denying that speed is an important part of the equation. Expectations are on the rise and consumers want the latest fashion trends yesterday. But when it comes to your digital marketing strategy, it’s relevance – not simply speed – that will win over shoppers.

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If a customer is opening their emails but not following through to your site, then perhaps there is some disconnect with your content or messaging.

For example, it’s always a good idea to recommend a new product that you know will get customers excited. But don’t promote or recommend a product that is at dangerously low stock levels. You don’t want to get a customer excited about buying that cool new jacket, only for that jacket to no longer be available come checkout time. It leaves a bad impression and can cause irreparable damage to your reputation with your customers.

The above is a prime example of retailers needing to balance their desire to make speedy recommendations for new products, with their ability to deliver the goods.

Build Trust With Relevant Recommendations

Consumer trust is a crucial component for any retailer but it’s doubly important in the fast fashion industry. How does your brand build trust with consumers? One way is to provide relevant product recommendations.

And it’s not hard to see why this is key for retailers.

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If I purchase items from your online store and you continue to provide me with recommendations that are tailored to my needs, three things are likely to happen. I’m going to appreciate getting personalized recommendations based on what I like. I’m going to start trusting your recommendations and enjoy opening the emails you send me. And I’m going to be more likely to purchase from you.

Dive Into Your Data

Great, you may say, but how do you actually put that into action, and which customer data points do you need to evaluate to ensure your recommendations are relevant?

The most obvious data point to monitor is customer purchase activity. If a customer is purchasing sandals, T-shirts and swim trunks, chances are they’re not interested in a down jacket.

Likewise, if you have a male customer who, as I do, exclusively shops for men’s products, the likelihood of them being interested in women’s products is slim. If you continue to send product recommendations designed for women, that customer’s trust in your recommendations will erode quickly.

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Email activity is another source of indicative data. If a customer is opening their emails but not following through to your site, then perhaps there is some disconnect with your content or messaging for that customer. Perhaps your lack of compelling imagery, mobile rendering or aesthetic design of the email is the problem.

Pick Up the Pace

Speed isn’t the most important factor when it comes to delivering a positive consumer experience but make no mistake: speed is an important factor.

Purchase activity gives you a sense of the importance of speed to a shopper. To find out how much your customers value speed and to meet their expectations accordingly, try to answer these questions:

  • Has your customer paid for expedited shipping in the past, or do they always choose standard delivery?
  • Have they responded to upgraded shipping promotions? Try testing different speed thresholds to see where the breaking point is. Consider offering promotions at intervals of 7 days, 5 days, 3 days, or 2 days, and monitor the results.

Race to the Front

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The fast fashion industry operates at breakneck speeds, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be left in the dust if you sacrifice a bit of speed to ensure the experience is personalized and optimized. Consumers are flocking to the fast fashion industry in droves but they still expect a positive, relevant shopping experience. Delivering new, unique and exciting products isn’t enough – and it isn’t anything if those products are mistargeted.

Take the time to emphasize and establish trust with consumers and build that relationship by continuing to deliver relevant recommendations to each customer. After all, if you don’t do it, someone else will.

Bronto, part of Oracle Corp., provides email marketing services to 125 of North America’s leading online retailers, according to Top500Guide.com.

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