Fashion Ecommerce Conversion Rates: 11 CRO Strategies from Top Brands

Fashion Ecommerce Conversion Rates: 11 CRO Strategies from Top Brands

For consumers, fashion is all about the first impression – boosting confidence on a first date, at a job interview, or just in your daily life. It communicates who you are and how you want others to perceive you.

If you run a fashion ecommerce business, the same is true … only more so. Even trickier, every touchpoint along your customer’s journey gives visitors a new first impression:

  • Attracting visitors with your advertising
  • Enticing them to and through your product pages
  • Delighting them with a fast, easy, and stylish user experience

And those positive or negative first brand impressions can have a lasting impact on your fashion ecommerce conversion rates and customer retention.

According to Econsultancy: “Only about 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.” If you’re among the 78% that aren’t, that’s why we’ve put together …

11 Strategies to Improve Your Fashion Ecommerce Conversion Rates
  1. Benchmark Your Conversion Rates
  2. Optimize for Mobile-First Experiences
  3. Improve Site Performance and Speed
  4. Invest in High-Quality Photos and Copy
  5. Generate Honest Ratings and Reviews
  6. Refine Your Site Search Functionality
  7. Implement Scripts to Automate Sales and Pricing
  8. Get Creative with Free Shipping Offers
  9. Upsell to Increase Average Order Values
  10. Customize Checkout Experiences
  11. Enable Customers to Buy on Any Platform

Insights for Today and Tomorrow

Keep reading to discover how top brands are improving their conversions and sales.

But, if you’d like an executive summary of online fashion, download The Fashion and Apparel Industry Report.

Inside, you’ll get one-pagers detailing …

  • Comprehensive data on the opportunities and threats
  • Business spotlights for insights on growth
  • A checklist for selecting the right fashion platform

Access the guide today

Defining Conversion Rate Optimization

Before we explain how to improve conversion rates for your fashion ecommerce brand, it’s important to set some realistic expectations of what conversion rate optimization can and can’t achieve.

Aaron Orendorff explains in his post about what everyone gets wrong about conversion rate optimization (CRO),

Conversion rate optimization isn’t about optimizing web pages – it’s about optimizing decisions – and the page itself is a means to an end.

CRO involves ongoing, incremental site improvements to get new customers to buy, or take other actions that your company defines as a “conversion” (e.g., email newsletter sign-ups, or creating a new account with your site).

Fashion CRO is both an art and a science which requires merchants to continuously test and optimize their customer’s first impressions about their website design, usability, product information and more – while adapting to consumer behaviors and preferences over time.

As Zee Aganovic, the CEO of HiConversion puts it, “you cannot apply a static solution to a dynamic problem.”

Below are changes you can make to your site today to increase the fashion conversion rate odds in your favor – keeping in mind that these are just tips to get you started.

1. Benchmark Your Conversion Rates

The first step in improving your average fashion ecommerce conversion rates is knowing (1) the driving metrics of ecommerce fashion industry at large and (2) how your own metrics stack up.

On the first front, four metrics matter most:

(1) Ecommerce fashion industry worldwide revenue

Overall, worldwide revenue is expected to increase from $481.2 billion in 2018 to $712.9 billion by 2022:

Data via Statista

(2) Ecommerce fashion worldwide revenue growth rate

Interestingly, while total market size is steadily climbing, worldwide revenue growth — i.e., compound annual growth rate (CAGR) — is slowing:

The cause of ecommerce fashion’s declining CAGR is Western-market saturation. This is especially glaring when you compare growth rates in the US, Europe, and China. By 2022, CAGR is expected to settle in at …

  • 8.8% in the US
  • 8.7% in Europe
  • 14.1% in China

(3) Ecommerce conversion rates by device and location

Industry-wide revenue and growth rates are good things … by what about conversion rates themselves?

Data compiled by Monetate Ecommerce from Q1 of 2017 and supported by data from Statista provides a foundational starting point:

Ecommerce conversion rates by device and location Q1 2017

(4) Ecommerce fashion average order value

We can also go one step further into the average order value of ecommerce fashion thanks to data from Yotpo:

Ecommerce fashion average order value

Unfortunately, the problem with relying on outside data, even from your industry, is brought to life perfectly by Shanelle Mullins in The Beginner’s Guide to Analyzing Shopify Reports and Analytics

“What’s a good amount of monthly traffic? What’s a good conversion rate? What’s a good average order value? What’s a good…?

“There’s no real answer to these questions. There are, of course, industry benchmarks and averages that you can turn to, but they are often more interesting than actionable.

“It’s all about what’s good for you and your store.”

To benchmark your own conversion rates for your fashion website, at least two metrics should be prioritized:

(1) Online store conversion rate

Shopify’s internal dashboard will give you a big-picture view of your site’s conversion rate as well as how each stage of your conversion funnel:

Online store conversion rate dashboard

(2) Multi-channel conversion rates

For multi-channel ecommerce, you can use the custom Google Data Studio dashboards within our Data Analysis Course to measure (1) how new visitors compare to returning visitors as well as (2) how your sources and mediums (i.e., channels) perform:

To go beyond benchmarking, take a look at the full Data Analysis Course available exclusively to Shopify Plus merchants.

Once you’ve stacked up to the fashion retail industry standards with our own current performance, it’s time to get optimizing …

2. Optimize for Mobile-First Experiences

While ecommerce sales are growing faster than retail store sales, it’s important to note that mobile commerce is projected to grow at a significantly faster rate in the coming years.

Mobile share of ecommerce

Even though smartphone conversions are currently half of those of desktop sales, that number is going to change rapidly as your competitors improve their mobile commerce experiences.

Likewise, a new Forrester Research report reveals that...

By 2021, mobile devices alone will influence $1.4 trillion in local [retail] sales.

High-volume fashion ecommerce brand Merchology recently replatformed with Shopify Plus and optimized its site for a mobile-first experience.

Within a month after the re-launch, the company made a more positive first impression with mobile customers and the site achieved:

  • 340% YoY increase in revenue per mobile device
  • 40% lift in mobile conversion rates

“Simplicity drives sales regardless of device. We’ve made it simple to order and checkout regardless of whether a customer is using a desktop computer, tablet, or mobile device.”

Nolan Goodman, VP Marketing at Merchology

To ensure you’re covering all of your bases when optimizing your site for a mobile-first experience, read Mobile Ecommerce Design Trends: 11 Best Practices to Optimize for Mobile-First Sales.

3. Improve Site Performance and Speed

When your site crashes during high volume shopping days, or your mobile site takes more than a few seconds to load, you run the risk of losing your customer’s attention and loyalty.

In fact, “79% of customers who report dissatisfaction with website performance are less likely to buy from that site again.

Site Crashes Drive Customers Away

When premium comfort-performance sock company Bombas was in high-growth mode and making high-profile media appearances like Shark Tank, the company jumped from doing 500 transactions a day to up to 4,000 a day.

Image via BizJournals

But the Bombas site couldn’t handle sudden spikes in traffic, and the site crashed immediately after the show aired on CNBC – the product images were broken, and people couldn’t check out.

This poor first impression with customers cost the company a huge number of potential new sales.

After replatforming to Shopify Plus, the Bombas team had peace of mind – knowing that the platform could scale and stay up and running during high-volume shopping days, like future Shark Tank reruns.

Speaking about Black Friday Cyber Monday, in particular, David Heath — co-founder at Bombas — says:

“It’s the one time of year that we offer a sale, so preparing for this is a year-long effort — between customer acquisition, our email plan, developing and releasing new product, making sure that we’re in stock, and then making sure that we’re fully staffed up on customer service to make sure that everything runs smoothly, and that all our customers get their products when they’ve ordered them.”

“Whether we’re doing 500 or 5,000 orders a day, Shopify Plus automatically scales with us, without us having to do anything extra.”

David Heath, Co-founder at Bombas

Slow Speeds Kill Your Conversion Rates

Your website speed can be either a blessing or a curse – it all depends on how fast your customers can load your pages on their browsers. According to Mobile 1st:

Slow pages are the number one issue that irate mobile users complain about — ranking even higher than site crashes.

To improve conversion rates, you must optimize your page speed performance. According to Skilled, “for every 1-second delay in page speed, there is a 7% reduction in sales.”

There are many ways to reduce the page load time on your fashion ecommerce site, including:

  • Compressing and reducing image file sizes
  • “Minifying” or improving poor coding of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS on your site
  • Leveraging a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

For a breakdown of all of the ways to improve page speeds, including Shopify Plus platform-specific optimizations, read: 15 Ways to Improve Ecommerce Site Performance for Faster Page Speed and Better Sales.

4. Create High-Quality Photos and Copy

While it is important to compress and reduce image file sizes for faster page load speeds, that doesn’t mean that they should look like crap.

Fashion ecommerce is a highly visual and emotional medium. According to Kissmetrics, "93% of consumers place visual appearance and color above other factors when shopping."

Considering that people can’t touch or try on your products online, “you need to work twice as hard to make your products come alive via excellent photography and graphics,” says ConversionXL founder Peep Laja.

So you can’t rely on stock photography, or small, uninspiring product photos to convince your customers to buy.

After replatforming to Shopify Plus, expressive eyewear brand Peepers (once featured in O Magazine) was able to showcase multiple, high-quality images of the same pair of eyeglasses – something that wasn’t possible on the previous platform the company was using.

Peepers fashion ecommerce conversion rate optimization

Peepers also reshot every product image on its site to produce larger, more vibrant, photos. It was then able to make a more positive first impression and inspire more consumer confidence in its brand.

After Peepers wrote more compelling product descriptions, customers were more easily able to find and select the pair of eyeglasses they wanted to buy.

The image and product description quality improvements contributed to a 30% increase in conversions. Customizing the customer checkout experience was also a contributing factor which we’ll get into shortly.

Since the company replatformed with Shopify Plus, John Hart, ecommerce manager at Peepers says,

We see huge opportunities regarding improving conversion rates and making data-driven decisions that give customers exactly what they want.

For detailed recommendations on how to optimize your fashion ecommerce site image quality, product descriptions, and other copy check out these resources:

5. Generate Honest Ratings and Reviews

Ratings and reviews are other elements of your fashion ecommerce product pages that can help you close the deal with a customer. They don’t always need to be positive, either.

Ecommerce conversion rates study

A study by Spiegel Research Center and PowerReviews found that “even negative online reviews can be helpful, as retailers that display online reviews see conversion rates rise by as much as 270 percent, with higher-priced and higher-consideration items benefiting more.”

Customers can perceive your site to be more credible if you include negative feedback or ratings. The study revealed that…

Purchase likelihood peaks for products with average ratings between 4.0 and 4.7 on a five-star ratings system, with those closer to 5.0 viewed with skepticism as being ‘too good to be true.’

Within a year after integrating Yotpo with its Shopify Plus site to increase user-generated ratings and reviews, multi-million dollar jewelry brand Pura Vida Bracelets discovered that:

  • The conversion rate of customers on-site who engage with reviews is 11.4% which is over 400% higher than customers who don't engage with reviews
  • The average order value of customers who engage with reviews is $34, which is about 11% higher than customers who don't engage with reviews

“Since we started our partnership with Yotpo, we’ve been able to easily connect with, and leverage relationships with new and existing customers like never before.”

Griffin Thall, Co-founder at Pura Vida Bracelets

For a deep dive on how to increase average conversion rates for fashion ecommerce with user-generated ratings and reviews, refer to these stories:

6. Refine Your Site Search Functionality

The search functionality on your site should work a lot like a salesperson in a store who helps your customers find exactly what they’re looking to buy.

If your site search is shoddy, your customers will get a bad first impression about how helpful your site is.

That is a major missed opportunity because... 

Customers who use site search are almost 2X more likely to convert on your site and can generate upwards of 40% of your site’s revenue.

After enhancing its site search to ensure products like yoga mats showed up in the yoga mat category, rather than fitness mats; and improving the site’s visual navigation using Shopify Plus, global fitness brand Gaiam was able to increase its ecommerce conversion rates by a whopping 70%.

Fashion ecommerce site search conversion rate optimization

Shopify Plus offers many apps that you can integrate with your fashion ecommerce store to enhance your site search functionality.

Some important site search features to offer on your site include:

  • Natural language processing (e.g., including synonyms that follow the way people speak – like using both “sofa” and “couch” to describe the same product)
  • Autocomplete for faster results and correcting spelling errors
  • Merchandising capabilities (e.g., including images in search results)
  • Enhanced mobile search capabilities

The following posts provide detailed information on how to maximize your fashion ecommerce site search functionality:

7. Implement Scripts to Automate Sales and Pricing

Automating promotions on your ecommerce site can save your fashion retail brand time and money. It can also increase conversions and retention rates.Luxury hoodie brand Evy’s Tree uses Shopify Scripts to offer a variety of automated discounts and to repackage its pricing and merchandise. For example, the company improves customer experiences by:

  • Creating Scripts to automatically calculate and apply discounts in real-time at checkout, rather than using discount codes which can be hard for mobile customers to enter manually
  • Pairing Scripts up with Sweet Tooth Rewards, which helps merchants earn loyalty via the Shopify Plus platform, by offering program participants flexible choices when redeeming their points including additional product discounts and free shipping

Since the company integrated rewards and automated discounts at checkout, Evy Tree’s retention rate, or the number of customers making more than one purchase, is over 50%.

“The brand has been successful because it is highly focused on reliability, and we're committed to offering a luxury experience with the minimal number of clicks necessary to checkout.”

Samantha Donohue, IT Manager at Evy's Tree

For other ideas on how to use Shopify Scripts to automate fashion retail website discounts, and dynamic pricing, review these case studies:

8. Get Creative with Free Shipping Offers

While many merchants struggle with the cost of offering free shipping, according to Conversion XL,

93% of customers say that free shipping would encourage them to buy more – 30% more on average, in fact.

Premium men’s activewear manufacturer Rhone Apparel recently began bundling some of its most popular items into curated kits as a solution to ensure it makes a profit on free shipping.

The company can control bundle sizes to use its ideal shipping containers, optimize shipping thresholds, and increase its conversions and revenue per user.

This strategy also offers customers a valued price for multiple products. Adam Bridegan, V.P. of Digital at Rhone explains,

The Kits allow us to maintain the cart sizes (more than one item) and is better than shipping out two separate orders...We've also done gift with purchases at certain cart sizes to help increase AOV and thus help us with packing more into shipping boxes.

To help you maximize your profit margins, Nick Winkler recently wrote about how to think inside the box when it comes to offering free shipping.

For ideas on how to use Shopify Scripts to offer free shipping and other creative shipping solutions on your terms, check out this post.

9. Upsell to Increase Average Order Values

Another way to get customers to spend more so you can justify offering free shipping is to use upselling tactics like Buy One, Get One (BOGO) at a discount, or free. Multi-million dollar mixed martial arts fitness brand MMA Warehouse uses Shopify Scripts to offer a free water bottle with the purchase of its apparel …

This tactic convinces customers who are still on the fence to make a purchase.

Offering tiered pricing based on spend thresholds is also a proven way to entice customers to spend just a little bit more for their perceived savings. For example, you might offer:

  • 10% for $50
  • 20% for $100
  • 30% for $150

Premium sneaker brand Greats uses Shopify Scripts to dynamically show how deep the discount is when a customer adds another item to their cart. This strategy helps the company to increase average order values and encourages customers to buy multiples of the same product.

You can also add features like a countdown clock using Scripts to add a sense of urgency to your sale – as is illustrated in the Pura Vida bracelets example below:

For additional examples on how to increase conversion rates in fashion retail using customizable upselling tactics, read this post on the Shopify Plus blog.

10. Customize Checkout Experiences

Considering that customers will leave your site if it takes more than a few seconds to load, it’s not shocking that the majority of customers want a faster checkout experience these days.

Offering a guest checkout option if they don’t want to go through the laborious process of creating an account is just the tip of the iceberg.

Your customers want and expect the process to take just a few clicks – especially if they are using a mobile device to checkout. Tools like Shopify Pay enable customers to opt-in to save their personal and shipping information to do so with just one tap or click.

And by using customizable tools like Shopify Scripts and integrating technology solutions created by Shopify Plus Partners, many high-volume merchants and brands have taken the checkout experience to an even more personalized level…

Pura Vida and Bounce Exchange

Pura Vida Bracelets integrated Bounce Exchange, which uses behavioral automation to improve its conversion rates, onto its Shopify Plus-hosted fashion website which helped to achieve conversion rates as high as 8%.

Bounce Exchange enables Pura Vida to better personalize the checkout experience and provides upsell opportunities, as well as rewards for customer loyalty by offering checkout discounts for referrals.

The company estimates that these efforts bring in 50-75 extra orders each day.

Peepers Builds Trust with Checkout Customization

Returning to the Peepers example, the company customized the HTML on its Shopify Plus checkout platform to provide a visually consistent experience and build trust with the consumer.

“The ability to customize with Shopify Plus allows us to push it to the limit and create a custom checkout experience customers can trust and be confident that their personal and payment information is safe. It makes customers feel like the site is going to take care of them,” says Peepers ecommerce manager, John Hart.

After replatforming with Shopify Plus, the company’s …

  • Organic traffic conversion rate has increased 25-30%
  • Average order value has increased 15-20%

For other ideas on how to customize the checkout experience with Shopify Scripts, dig into 15 Ecommerce Checkout Optimizations with Shopify Scripts to Automate & Maximize Conversions.

11. Enable Customers to Buy on Any Platform

Whether your business chooses to invest in a multi-channel or omni-channel retail strategy, you must enable customers to buy on the platforms where they engage with your brand the most.

Facebook Sales Channels Streamline the Checkout Process

With Mother’s Day 2017 fast approaching, high-end beauty brand L’Occitane launched a Facebook Sales Channel using Shopify Plus in just 42 days.

The company focused on:

  • Enabling appropriate payment gateways so shoppers could checkout on Facebook rather than being redirected to the L’Occitane website
  • Connecting the new channel with the L’Occitane warehouse so Facebook orders could be fulfilled with accuracy and expediency

“Consumers are adept at using social as a channel to explore and engage with brands; the next progression would be to purchase from them as well.”

Serena Kolber, Sr. Director of Digital Acquisition & Brand Media at L'Occitane

After launching the Facebook Sales Channel, the company was able to cut out a click in the checkout process and significantly lift conversion rates during the mother’s day campaign – even after the company stopped running paid media.

Conversions also improved each time the company and its partner, VaynerMedia, optimized the creative in the ads, along with audience targeting.

Product Tagging on Instagram Increases Sales

After discovering that 15.6% of its sales were directly attributable to Instagram, multi-million dollar fashion brand and Shopify Plus merchant ORO LA  launched Shopping on Instagram to capitalize on its 350,000 plus social media following. Rather than simply buying ads on the platform to drive to an ecommerce website, the goal of Shopping on Instagram is to enable merchants to add tags to posts so users can “tap” to see product details and easily click through if they’re ready to buy.

After launching the program, ORO LA saw a 29.3% lift in month-over-month revenue directly attributable to Instagram.

For ideas and strategies on social selling best practices for fashion ecommerce, read:

Final Thoughts on Fashion Ecommerce Conversion Rates

Looking good and making a positive first impression takes time and effort.

Your favorite clothes and accessories in your closet likely required many hours to shop around for the right pieces, find your ideal colors and sizes, and update or throw out items as new styles became popular.

Likewise, as new ecommerce technologies emerge, and user behaviors and preferences evolve in the future, so too must your site.

Insights for Today and Tomorrow

For an executive summary of online fashion, download The Fashion and Apparel Industry Report.

Inside, you’ll get one-pagers detailing …

  • Comprehensive data on the opportunities and threats
  • Business spotlights for insights on growth
  • A checklist for selecting the right fashion platform

Access the guide today

About the Author

Andrea Wahbe is a freelance B2B marketing strategist and corporate storyteller who writes about Canadian SMEs, marketing, and digital media trends. Follow her on Twitter.