The Best Online Fashion Sites and What to Learn From Them

The Best Online Fashion Sites and What to Learn From Them

The ecommerce fashion industry can feel manic … and not just because styles, tech, and tastes change fast. On one hand, Statista predicts that online fashion will eclipse $633 billion by 2021. On the other, as McKinsey reports, the top 20% of companies create 100% of the economic profit.

The top 20% of fashion companies create 100% of the economic profit

Gaining experience firsthand in that sort of “winner-takes-all” industry often comes at a catastrophic price: failure. Instead of going it alone, a far better approach is to learn from the experiences, failures, and successes of the best online fashion sites …

  1. Rebecca Minkoff: Tap Into Current Social Climates
  2. Fashion Nova: Integrate Social, Referral, and Operations
  3. Chubbies: The Power of Strong Brand Ethos
  4. Frankies Bikinis: Automate Your Processes and Liberate Your Team
  5. Sephora: Education, Education, Education.
  6. Rothys: Eliminating Key Conversion Roadblocks
  7. Pura Vida Bracelets: Supporting Charity Through Every Sale
  8. Bonobos: One-Stop-Shop For Style Guides
  9. UNTUCKit: Clear and Concise Value Proposition
  10. Vrai & Oro: Financing Their Way To Victory

1. Rebecca Minkoff: Tap into Current Social Climates

2017 was a polarizing year and there is no doubt that 2018 will likely follow suit. Everything from elections to social-justice causes were and are of top concern to citizens across the world.

If viral campaigns of the past, like Chipotle’s Scarecrow, can teach us anything, it’s that tapping into current social climates with authenticity can induce a viral effect on your business.

Already a staple of online-and-offline fashion, Rebecca Minkoff has capitalized on wider social movements by creating a like-minded community centered on empowering her customers:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

With a genuine background in feminism and a willingness to share openly through her business, Minkoff’s superwoman profiles capitalize on trending news and utilize user-generated content.

Not to be overlooked are Minkoff’s forays into offline-to-offline shopping through connected stores. As we highlighted in an earlier article, within the first five months of launching their omni-channel commerce solution, the fashion pioneer increased sales by 6-7x.

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

2. Fashion Nova: Integrate Social, Referral, and Operations

It would be difficult to debate CEO Richard Saghian when he calls Fashion Nova “the fastest-growing women’s apparel company.”

With over 10 million followers on Instagram, relationships with celebrities like Cardi B, Kylie Jenner, and Blac Chyna, and an army of over 3,000 influencers, Fashion Nova pairs social-media dominance with a unique approach to fast fashion.

According to Saghian, the company works with over 1,000 manufacturers and can receive samples within 24 hours of conceptualizing a piece. That’s not just for show — Fashion Nova launches over 500 new styles every single week.

Influencers then choose 10–15 items through their Fashion Nova representative, take to social media, and caption each post with discount codes to track their individual sales. Perhaps most ingenious, as five influencers told Buzzfeed, no money changes hands.

So, what is the incentive?

Cardi B.’s stylist, Kollin Carter, explained in an interview with Cosmopolitan:

“Fashion Nova will always be super close to her. That was a brand that was lending to her before anybody believed in her. They worked together way before [she hired] me.

“I always have respect for her Fashion Nova moments, because it is a part of who she is. They have amazing basics. If I can't find a go-to denim, which I normally can't find go-to denim for her from a high-end designer, Fashion Nova always has a perfect denim for her. They cater to women with curves.”

Influencers like Cardi B help make Fashion Nova one the best ecommerce fashion sites

With Shopify, it’s never been easier to sell directly on Instagram and integrate a buyable feed directly to your ecommerce store. Average order values from social are high and people love generating inspiration, especially in the fashion industry.

Fashion Nova’s understanding of social media isn’t just tactical or viral — their team understands and prioritizes deep, meaningful, human relationships. Saghian says:

Social media is just helping us grow faster. But if I didn’t have Instagram, I would have grown the business the old-fashioned way: by word of mouth.

A referral strategy is one manifestation of this word-of-mouth marketing. Companies with a referral strategy experience 86% more growth in revenue compared to those who don’t. In addition, According to a ground-breaking Nielsen study:

Not only does purchase likelihood increase, but the lifetime value of customers from referrals is 25% higher than that of non-referral customers. The fact is, referrals work. Fashion Nova has instituted their own referral campaign to capitalize on the power of referrals.

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

By using incentives that their customers actually care about, Fashion Nova can increase the likelihood of people using the referral program. Their value proposition appeals both to loyal return customers and excited first time visitors.

3. Chubbies: The Power of Strong Brand Ethos

While branding might only seem feasible for the likes of Apple, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser, branding in online shopping — especially for fashion — is everything. You don’t need million dollar marketing budgets, mainstream celebrities, or Clydesdale horses to brand yourself online, either. And logos don’t make up your entire “brand.”

Brand bias is still very much alive and it plays a big role in purchase decisions. When online shopping, 70% of consumers look for a familiar retailer or brand. Brand aware store visitors are 2x more likely to purchase from you, too.

Chubbies is the prime example of brand ethos on display at a grand (and effective) scale. At Chubbies, their motto focuses around “the weekend.” They believe in short shorts, swim trunks, America and letting your quads breathe in sunshine and freedom.

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

Everything from their website copy to their images evokes their brand spirit. Their entertainment section ties directly back to their branding, displaying grandiose, patriotic content.

Shopping for swimsuits has never been this enjoyable:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

Beyond particular, carefully chosen phrasing, the images at their storefront cater directly to their target market: a younger generation that prioritizes enjoying life in the sunshine. Their patriotic spirit has made waves in communities across the world, gaining a heavy following with deployed military personnel worldwide who can be seen wearing Chubbies ‘MERICAS shorts:

The Chubbies brand experience is personified through every interaction on their storefront. From the first touch to browsing any product, the experience transcends each page.

Chubbies uses their brand ethos to build dedication with a following, and cultivate an impenetrable niche within the crowded shorts and swimwear market.

4. Frankies Bikinis: Automate Your Processes and Liberate Your Team

Whenever Frankies Bikinis launches a product, certain styles sell out in as little as two minutes and have made the company $150,000 in a single hour.

While effective and exciting, these monthly launches would drain their team and cause chaos on their workflow. Separate from the launches, they also regularly do 24-hour flash sales.

Director of Marketing and Ecommerce Brittney Bowles and a co-worker used to be responsible for manually executing a checklist of tasks on a checklist for both Frankies sites at breakneck speed, including:

  • Unhiding products
  • Navigation changes
  • Landing page updates
  • Collection page alterations
  • Uploading hero images
  • Publishing new homepage layouts

“It’s a lot of little things that don’t take a huge amount of time,” Bowles says. “But they all have to be done at once and correctly.”

As these events concluded, Bowles would have to manually change the theme back to Frankies’ original storefront shortly after midnight the next day.

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

Fortunately, because Frankies is built with Shopify Plus, Bowles and her team can use Launchpad — a tool that lets merchants automate operations leading up to a major event such as a flash sale, product drop or high-demand campaigns.

With Launchpad taking care of these processes instantly, Bowles and her team are now free to focus on more important tasks.

Don’t waste your team’s time and energy on linear processes. In addition to Launchpad, you can reduce your resourcing efforts and costs while amplifying the buyer experience with two other ecommerce automation tools to streamline business workflows:

  • Shopify Flow enables merchants to automate complex and tedious backend workflows with a three-step visual builder and a host of downloadable templates
  • Shopify Scripts enables customized checkout experiences for each customer, including presentation of specific payment gateways and exclusive discounts on cart items and shipping rates

If you’re part of a high growth ecommerce store, chances are you know of no shortage of problems that need solving. Leave the linear operations to technology.

Let your team’s creative skills run wild solving actual, challenging, problems.

5. Sephora: Educating Customers Pays Off

When you sell diverse (and thousands of) products like Sephora does, education is key. There are simply too many choices to expect a user to know what they want immediately, especially if they are first-time visitors. Too many choices can often drive users away, but Sephora counters decision fatigue with education.

Nowadays, 81% of shoppers research online before purchasing products. Two of the biggest factors in website buying share the same idea: shoppers want to know how they can use your product. The fact is consumers do their due diligence.

Learn more: Black Friday ecommerce strategies, tips, and statistics

Instead, of forcing customers to turn to Google for research or read roundup posts on their best products and deals, Sephora uses their “how-to” section complete with “buying guides” that are interactive.

Buying guides help customers with everything from hairstyle to fashion looks and contouring.

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

Potential customers can watch videos, take beauty classes, or use a virtual artist program right through the website:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

When using the K-Beauty Guide, you can select different needs to build a custom guide that curates products depending on your selections and browsing history. Combining segmentation into the mix with different product categories, Sephora delivers educational content that helps users sort through thousands of products.

Take a page from Sephora’s playbook, which earned them a spot on Fast Company’s 2018 Most Innovative Companies list, and focus on educating new visitors with buying guides and interactive tools to help them reach decisions faster.

6. Rothys: Eliminating Key Conversion Roadblocks

A potential buyer lands on your site from an unbranded search, stumbling upon a design they instantly love. They read reviews on the product page and decide to add it to their cart. But, once they see — or don’t see — shipping costs, hassle-inducing return policies, unclear exchange terms, they abandon their carts for good.

Unexpected friction in the final steps of buying can virtually destroy conversion momentum.

This scenario is all too common in the fashion industry, where cart abandonment rates are nearly 70%. Conversion roadblocks present themselves at almost every turn.

According to AdWeek: 69% of consumers avoid purchasing because they believe returning would be too complicated. 61% leave if you don’t offer free shipping. 51% abandon if shipping options aren’t good.

This is a likely result of “The Amazon Effect” where nearly every product includes free shipping and fast, hassle-free returns. The only way to stay competitive is to eliminate these roadblocks.

Rothys blows past these objections by immediately addressing user pain points with a dynamic banner showing free shipping and returns:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

Dedicating an entire page on their site to shipping and returns, they attempt to simplify the process as much as possible:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

With almost no terms and conditions, they work on the Amazon model: if you don’t like it, return it for a full refund, no questions asked.

Likewise, their shipping is fully transparent, giving shoppers an exact time frame of how standard free shipping works:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

With these banners and a dedicated shipping and returns page, they eliminate any doubts that could lead to abandoned carts and lost sales. Believing in their product’s greatness allows them to offer these returns without worry of impact on their bottom line.

Take a hard look at your current shipping and return policies and see how you can improve them to blow past conversion halting barriers.

7. Pura Vida Bracelets: Supporting Charity Through Every Sale

Beyond buying products from a brand that resonates with people, consumers love supporting charities and missions that have a greater purpose. The latest data shows that people prefer companies that make donations or contributions to charity or foundations from their sales.

In fact, 90% of Americans are more likely to trust brands that support greater causes than just their bottom line.

Cause-related marketing is exploding, and Pura Vida has made waves in the fashion industry with their mission-backed business goals. In 2015, the two founders made Forbes’ 30 under 30 List. In just a few years of business, they hit $9 million in revenue by making charity a central focus.

Their story is built on helping local artisans across the globe and supporting charities and foundations from the US Military to Animal, Cancer and Environmental awareness foundations.

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

Each charity type has their own, customized bracelets where portions of the proceeds go directly to their causes:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

Today, they support 200 artisans across the globe, many of whom they have personally met through travel and mission trips. They have successfully raised nearly $1.5 million in lifetime donations for their charities and are continually expanding their reach with their motto: “Every bracelet purchase makes a difference.”

With a genuine story of inception, their business is a shining example of cause-based marketing that makes people feel like they have made a difference through every purchase.

8. Bonobos: Simplify the Decision for the Visitor

Shopping for a big occasion can often be a nightmare. You need the right outfit: from the right type of shoes, dress socks, suit style, and trim. Unless you’re a fashion expert, considering all of these aspects and forming a well-dressed look without help is like doing a Rubik's cube blindfolded. It’s unlikely to come out complete on the other end.

Too many choices result in frantic and hectic buying. It can be paralyzing, annoying and most of all, frustrating.

Bonobos understands this pain point and simplifies their options using personalized curation.

The “Groomshop” facilitates the frustrating problem of too many choices. By curating content ranging from tips to honeymoon destinations, wedding styles and the right outfits for each occasion, they unscramble a typically jumbled process:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

Each wedding type has two options containing pre-crafted, professionally selected suit styles so a consumer doesn’t have to buy individual pieces or put together suits on their own. They virtually remove the annoying process of bringing an outfit together with too many moving parts.

You can even shop for looks for different occasions like your honeymoon, with each option relating to specific destination types:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

Accompanied by tips, Bonobos does the research work and prep for their consumers to make an easy one-stop-shop for style guides. They make the process enjoyable by simplifying it into different categories, types and destinations, meaning no user has to start from scratch and burn out.

Reducing this pain point for their customers, and making them confident in the decision, enables Bonobos to drive more sales and retain more customers throughout the research process.

9. UNTUCKit: Create a Clear and Concise Value Proposition

You’ve just browsed for thirty minutes online, finding an amazing new brand with a shirt you can’t afford to miss out on. But when you get ready to purchase, fear sets in: you don’t want to purchase a shirt that might not fit, especially when returns are complicated.

This is a massive problem in the fashion space. People don’t want to buy clothes when they’re unsure of the fit. The likelihood of returning is greatly increased.

UNTUCKit knows this problem and capitalizes on it by having a clear and concise value proposition that touches on four key points:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

Using an informative diagram to reduce the likelihood of returns, they show exactly how their shirt is superior to standard dress shirts and what fitting you can expect from it.

They couple this with an interactive sizing page where you can see how each measurement differs based on sizing:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

UNTUCKit removes conversion roadblocks by educating people on their value. They build trust with potential buyers by showing users the fitting with an interactive guide and a value proposition dedicated to the perfect fit.

10. Vrai & Oro: Financing Their Way To Victory

Selling expensive products online is a tricky tunnel to navigate. According to the latest data, most people don’t have much in savings. And that makes selling luxury products near impossible, especially when compounded by the fact that so many people have credit card debt, too.

Despite these factors, that doesn’t mean that people don’t want to or won’t purchase expensive products online. It just means they need other options that don’t involve putting them in debt or draining a savings account and taking the risk.

Vrai & Oro use payment plans on their own site to increase sales and enable any potential customer to feel comfortable and secure in their purchase.

Currently, this strategy has led them to produce $2 million in annual recurring revenue:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

Financing is also data-backed. On average, you can generate:

  • 75% higher average order values with payment plans
  • 10+% increase in revenue per visitor
  • 20% conversion rate lift
  • And better Net Promoter Scores

With Shopify, you can use top of the line financing and payment plan providers like Affirm or Each one can integrate directly with your online store, providing full-scale services that automatically generate payment plans for customers to choose from:

Best Fashion Ecommerce Sites And What To Learn From Them

With Affirm, you reap the benefits of full sales even when financing takes place. While you process the order, Affirm settles the full payment with you directly.

Instead of waiting months to get your full payment, the customer pays Affirm over time, meaning you always get the full sale amount at the moment of purchase. There are no chargebacks, and when a sale or order takes place, they take on the risk of repayment and buyer fraud, allowing you to get paid and stress less.

Adding financing plans enabled Vrai & Oro scale to millions in annual recurring revenue, creating higher order values and loyal customers. Now, anyone can buy on their store without worry of cost, and Vrai & Oro can ensure that sales always result in profit for their bottom line.

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Learning from the Best Ecommerce Fashion Sites

Becoming a top fashion ecommerce site requires valuable experience and addressing what makes your users convert or run for the hills.

The future is bright for ecommerce, and these ten fashion sites are steamrolling the competition with diverse ways of addressing user pain points.

Take inspiration from the best fashion ecommerce sites to capture your share of the soon-to-be $633 billion market … and create a customer base that keeps coming back.

Original artwork courtesy of Aaron Marsden

About the author

Herbert Lui

Herbert Lui is the creative director of Wonder Shuttle. He was a staff writer for Lifehacker, and his writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, the New York Observer, and Fast Company.

Check out Herbert Lui’s work