Caught In The Web

E-commerce and website design are areas of increasing importance in building a successful business in any industry. However, in the fashion and retail arenas, these fields take on even more of a vital aspect. If we remove our business hats and put on our consumer hats, the underlying reason is fairly obvious. No one wants to buy clothes off an ugly website. It’s not that consumers are consciously discriminating based on layouts and font sizes, the reaction is more subconscious. The experience is directly comparable to walking into a cluttered store — there is the instant feeling of claustrophobia and the resignation which comes with realising that if there are hidden gems, it will take a lot of work to find them. So you leave the store or close the tab, and move on to another shop or website where the products are presented with more style and cohesion.

This example is not as isolated or extreme as you might think. Apparel caught up with Nami Hampe from Hamilton’s Marketing Fuel to discuss website design. According to Hampe, one of the most common mistakes Marketing Fuel sees with online stores is over-crowding. “Trying to showcase everything is unnecessary,” explained Hampe. “It overwhelms shoppers.” Another problem which impedes customers is the use of non-mobile friendly content. “A lot of shoppers now come to online stores directly from Instagram bio links, on their mobile or device,” said Hampe. “When the website is not optimised for mobile, the images do not load or are the wrong  size for the screen, it definitely affects the customer’s experience.” In these instances, customers usually close the site and have had a disappointing encounter which inevitably discourages them from interacting with the brand again.

Outdated websites such as these are Marketing Fuel’s speciality, and Hampe has seen many websites relaunched and given a boost thanks to Marketing Fuel’s mobile-friendly web-designs. “A website is never finished,” noted Hampe, who believes continuous updates are needed to keep product selections and designs looking fresh and appealing. “By the time you finish making a website, it will need updates, which is why Marketing Fuel’s website platforms come with a Super Easy Website Editor, which allows retailers to keep updating their websites themselves.” This self-editing may take a little time for retailers to get used to but means that they can reformat or make changes based on trends. Just like their products, keeping up with trends in digital content and design is crucial. “Moving images are a popular trend at the moment, which we have incorporated into some of our clients’ websites,” explained Hampe. “We have also seen a lot of retro-inspired designs recently.” Minimalism is undoubtedly the over-riding design trend, and it fits well with most online fashion stores as well as having the bonus of functionality. Whether businesses decide to capitalise on trends or not, Hampe emphasised that a focus on branding is essential. “Unlike other industries, fashion e-tailers cannot just have a basic website with necessary contact information. It also has to look nice, and be consistent with their brand.” Without a streamlined branding message, there is a fundamental disconnect between the products and the business voice - which is critical in achieving sales.

With advances in web-design platforms, making the perfect online store for your brand is no longer costly or complicated. Companies like Marketing Fuel provide an indispensable starting point for brands launching online operations and ongoing support which keeps e-tailers feeling like the best version of themselves.