Doubling eCommerce Conversions in Fashion Apparel


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In the last quarter, EGO‘s cost of customer acquisition has been cut in half with conversions rates nearly doubling. These outcomes are of course no accident. Renowned performance marketer and eCommerce consultant, Hamaad Ravda, has been the force behind creating a revenue stream that generates higher ROI than the top performance offline EGO outlet. Hamaad was kind enough to share the five keys to achieving these results.

What’s the uncomfortable truth here?
Offline outcomes is more amplified online, given resources are in place. The main reason fashion retailers are not getting the ROMI they expect is they set up online stores without allocating the bare minimum resources towards it.

Can you add more color on resources and ROI expected ? One of the question we often hear is “How big can this get” ?
Like for bricks-and-mortal retail, online sales are a function of selection, allocated store inventory, marketing, foot-traffic and demand generation. There is evidence worldwide that online retail now accounts for up to 15% of total sales for top retailers like Gap. Even locally, there are players in the market running stores with sales volume of USD 200k to USD 800k monthly (including 2 offline retailers!).

However, the majority of retailers are failing to allocate enough inventory or paid marketing spend to generate adequate demand. Most retailers I have worked with have been able to achieve sales equal to their top A-class store (2000 sq ft. and above) with the requisite inventory and some online marketing spend (some beat offline performance by upto 2-3x). They should be setting their sights much higher – with the right investments, it is possible for top retailers to create a new channel through which they can drive USD 1 million in monthly sales in a matter of 12 months (smaller retailers can do USD 100K- USD 300K in sales). To achieve that kind of scale, retailers will have to make investments in online demand generation, allocating the right inventory for the expected scale, and by implementing operational processes and software that allow for efficient and fast fulfillment of orders.

What are you doing that others aren’t?
I utilize strategies that are based on evidence rather than guesswork and that gives me a significant advantage over competition. It’s just the little things on the customer decision journey that matter, for instance, an ad where the model is looking at the camera (as opposed to looking away) has comparatively higher conversation rates. They can draw multiply psychographic guesses as to why that is the case, but the data backs it up.

If I ignore the data, EGO will continue to mark its products as “long top” and “short top”. If I explore my store search data and incoming keywords from search engines, I can find that my target audience is using search terms like “long kurta”, “tunics” and “semi formal kurta”. This has implications for your site navigation and for SEO when Google’s crawlers index your store’s info.

You can either base your decisions on “I’ve been in the industry for X years and know everything” or follow the data. Be open to experimenting, best practice dirties the pond. And remember that online, every decision can be measured.

Most of the emerging players misconstrue user experience to site beautification, ignore the customer journey to conversion. How do you tackle this?
This may well be a cliche now, but user experience goes beyond good looks – its about the overall experience that users have engaging with your brand with a particular focus on convenience, speed, and reliability of the end-to-end experience. This includes things such as:

a. how simple is it to conduct a transaction on the website/mobile app (optimized transaction flows);
b. how easy is it for users to find they want (navigation/search) and learning when new and noteworthy stuff has arrived at the store (push content);
c. does the user have useful, comprehensive product content to enable them to make an informed decision;
d. are your users being able to transact wherever they are (desktop; tablet and mobile); and finally,
e. do you provide quick cheap delivery with a reliable delivery speed promise, and easy returns (fulfillment and returns experience).

Despite the overflowing evidence to the contrary, not everyone is convinced that mobile for conversions is the way forward. What does your experience tell?
When more than 50% of the internet traffic in Pakistan is mobile, why are retailers not paying enough attention to developing mobile responsive websites? Half of online sales in Pakistan are from mobile and it makes up 60% of the total overall traffic, and moreover this is the fastest growing segment of the market. As of today, desktop users only account for 30-40% of Facebook’s daily traffic in Pakistan. In fact, it is highly plausible that in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, a large number of users will have their first extended engagement with the brand through mobile (Facebook and online store).

One of the first things that I did at Ego was working on optimizing the user experience, speed, and flow of the mobile website. The resulting improvements in conversion rates increased our mobile sales by 30%. As a rule, retailers should invest in mobile experiences that load fast (on often lagging mobile internet connections) and provide simple and quick navigation to enable quick transactions. Native apps generally provide an overall better experience, but retailers would be well advised to think beyond e-commerce when thinking about the possibilities of adding mobile apps in transforming the nature of their retail experience (both offline and online).

So what’s the way forward for retailers in 2015? And if they just take your advice, will it be enough?
The retailers who will win tomorrow will be skilled at optimizing the reach and impact of the marketing investments across owned, earned, and paid channels. More on email, paid marketing, and search. Learn to explore the other mediums.

There’s a reason Daraz tries to get your email address on the first visit. There’s a reason Amazon does 30% of its sales via email. When you send an abandoned cart email, your conversions improve 25%. Learn to explore the other mediums.

And will this be enough?
No. More bidders will enter the game, the conversions will fall since everyone is after the same “eye ball” inventory. Brand and marketing professionals in charge of eCommerce need to invest in understanding the customer decision journey and the tools to optimize on the digital intersections. They must experiment and be willing to test everyday. Doing so will teach them more than any offline selling experience ever could.

Unilever recently took the eCommerce plunge with Daraz. What should similar marketing professionals have in data before exploring similar avenues?
They should know their customers inside out, for instance, the hottest demographics, what they are buying and who are they buying the products for. If this information is not available, multiple tests with USD 100 is very revealing. Its important to remember that in some ways online buying behavior is not different from offline.

Thanks for your time Hamaad, this has truly been a learning journey. Best of luck for 2015 and working with more open minded clients like EGO 🙂

Babar Khan Javed
Babar Khan Javed is a brand journalist. He is a post-graduate of "Squared", Google's highest qualification for marketing strategy. His work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Market Leader, Consulting Magazine, Global CMO and Brand Quarterly. He is interested in the dynamics of advertising including industry topics such as how media is being transformed by technology. He can only be reached at [email protected] and responds within 24 hours.


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