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Why Fashion Retailers Can’t Afford to Ignore Mobile

Ian Blair

Today, there are well over a hundred million people using smartphones. In a technologically driven market, luxury fashion brands and products stand to gain monumentally by going mobile in order to reach out to all their prospects and customers.

fashion retailers

Credit: PopularIndustry.com

Among all licensed apps available on app stores today, 17% cater to fashion or are fashion-related. This includes everything from shoes and outdoor gear to luxury and designer apparel labels.

A 2011 survey revealed that clothing and accessories were actually among the second highest mobile-purchased items, next to electronics. 37% of all clothes and accessories were in fact sold through mobile apps.

Fashion e-branding isn’t just limited to having a fancy web layout that showcases what Flash can do. In today’s unforgiving and highly competitive market, it’s about having a strategically sound process that integrates planning, execution, innovation, monitoring and regular improvements; all from one central platform accessible to all.

Mobile apps have broken geographical barriers and consumers are starting to enjoy a seamless buying experience. This sends an abundantly clear message to fashion retail businesses everywhere – there’s no smarter and more efficient way to connect with consumers than this. It would be akin to murder not to, in this day and age.

How exactly can fashion mobile apps give you an edge and boost turnover? Let’s take a look.

Mobile Shopping – Not Just a Trend

Google Insights has revealed every 4 out of 5 smartphone owners prefer mobile shopping. A survey involving 5013 US smartphone users further revealed:

  • 27% made purchases through a mobile site
  • 70% prefer using their smartphones in stores
  • 79% rely on their smartphones for shopping
  • 22% bought products and accessories through a mobile app
  • On average, $300 was spent annually on mobile-bought items

Mobile has found its way into our daily lives with individuals of all ages relying on mobile apps to get things done, and among them, the fashion industry is steadily gaining momentum.

A Seamless Experience, Anytime, Anywhere

Shopping was once considered a “holy” experience, particularly for women, to go from mall to mall, checking out prices, trying stuff on, and having fun with their friends. About to perish is the notion of having to BE somewhere in order to shop.

fashion app

Credit: Faber-ventures.com

Mobile brings greater than ever access to all goods a designer has to offer which are accessible at a tap or two. Consumers are looking for this level of convenience and ease-of-use.

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However, not all fashion and retail brands are there yet. There are still quite a few in the process of becoming immune to the changing social landscape and mobile scope of it all, while attempting to get a handle on issues pertaining to traditional channels and control.

Nordstrom is one retailer that has a good mobile strategy in place. The well-known retailer has embraced mobile commerce for quite a while now. Not too long ago, Wi-fi networks were installed in their stores to let smartphone users go online while shopping.

In early 2012, Nordstrom tested an iPod Touch-based point-of-sale system, which would fetch inventory information and let customers pay by swiping credit cards, after which an email receipt would be provided.

A highly robust iPad app as well as a fashion mobile app was also launched later the same year for Android and iPhone boasting slick shopping features. These branded apps serve as a critical component that’s responsible for their mobile strategy, leading to a more personal relationship with their customers, further cementing loyalty in the process.

Clothing/Accessories and Mobile Go Hand in Hand

A 2013 survey again unearthed that fashion apparel enjoyed the second highest spending by mobile shoppers, in contrast to digital products.

This is an ever-present green light that’s urging fashion brands to extend mobile services to their consumer base.

fashion apps

Credit: Poqstudio.com

If you’re still somewhat shy of taking the plunge, you can certainly consider limited features to initially stimulate the appetite of your customers; it doesn’t have to have full-fledged capabilities from the get go.

DVF did just that in 2010, when they launched a mobile app with limited capabilities. The iPhone app allowed customers to look at videos, store locations, product lines including exclusive products, and of course the ability to make purchases, though only within business hours. Not quite what you would call ideal, but it did coax more customers to go mobile.

Apps for Entertainment = Apps for Shopping

The simple truth: you need to grab the attention of your customers with relevant, entertaining and engaging content. Fashion brands are quick to sign deals involving movie and music tie-ins. Well, what’s stopping you from integrating mobile shopping into the whole experience?

Sephora says you can do both. Customers activate a digital mirror in the app, which uses the iPad’s front cam to show the customer’s face on one half of the screen, while they get to watch a video on the other half of an expert giving tips on how to properly apply make-up. Nifty and quite creative; shoppers watch themselves and repeat the exact same steps as the expert. Talk about selling your product!

Smartphones continue to replace and outpace traditional cell phones, even high-end PCs and laptops. The future is by all counts extremely mobile, and fashion brands simply cannot afford to pass up this channel or get left behind in the dust.

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Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.

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