We all know that the fashion industry is highly competitive, with every brand investing heavily in its brand image, marketing, fashion design, quality, price, locations and customer service. Some retailers spend up to 30% of their sales on marketing—driving traffic to stores and e-commerce sites in the hopes of capturing both new customers and more wallet share from existing customers.

Yet, how well do fashion brands capitalise on that marketing spend? Do their individual locations create the experiences required to command loyalty from its customers? The answer is, quite simply, no.

This week Market Force will release its fashion retail industry research. Consumers have given us their opinions about their most recent experiences at the brands they visited. In both the US and the UK, one out of five customers said they had a dissatisfying experience, and less than half said they had a truly great experience. Those numbers really caught my attention.

As I looked at the research, three things caught my attention about how brands can better serve their customers—and capitalise on their opportunities for sales.

  1. Sales associates need to engage with customers. One in three customers in the UK and one in two in the US were assisted by a sales associate. Yet that engagement is—quite literally—worth its weight in gold. Customers who interact with sales associates have 10 points or higher satisfaction ratings and recommendation ratings. More importantly, they spend more of their fashion money with brands that provide excellent service. Why? Associates help customers find the right size of clothing, check merchandise availability at other locations, and suggest complimentary clothing and accessories. That deliberate focus on service increases both conversion rates and basket size.
     
  2. Locations must be equipped to resolve problems. Although relatively few customers (about 6%) reported experiencing a problem during their most recent shopping trip, the manner in which management or sales associates handled those problems had a big impact. One in five customers who felt their problem was not satisfactorily resolved made a negative social media post. Managing social media requires time and resources and negative posts can damage the brand’s reputation—so encouraging your staff to proactively address problems will save everyone the frustration of trying to fix things online.
     
  3. Use technology to your advantage. 14% of UK customers and 20% of US customers use mobile apps to learn about fashion and share ideas with others, with Pinterest being the most important app. Helping customers create their own look using these tools can engage them with the brand—and turns out to be an important satisfaction driver for the in-store experience.

Whilst we can all get caught up in the omni-channel tech savvy retail world, where mapping out and manipulating customer journeys with contextualisation and personalisation is very real, we need to remember that the basic human elements need to be delivered to a higher standard than ever before to capitalise on all the footfall generation. Having spent the past 5 years working with some of the UK’s leading high street fashion retailers and avidly watching their terrain change into an omni-channel landscape, I am still surprised that some of the most important touchpoints (human interactions) are not given the same importance as their ecommerce channels.

For more information on this new research, contact us to schedule a briefing. You’ll see how customers rate individual brands and the opportunities your brand can seize to win in this very competitive space.

Edward Mason is Vice President, Strategic Relations, Europe. Edward leads the EU team of consultants and programme development professionals that match Market Force's capabilities to our clients' needs, serving the UK, France and Spain. He’s been on board at Market Force since 2009 and has managerial experience in entrepreneurial and venture-backed companies.

Tags: retail