For most traditional retail businesses, it has been a rough year to successfully navigate. Even once popular brands have had to completely rethink their strategies, close locations, and cut employees in order to remain afloat.
Nowhere has this been more evident than with clothing stores, which have had their fair share of problems for a while now but took a massive hit this year due to the restrictions placed on businesses during the pandemic. Fashion industry SEO may be the only remedy or path forward for these businesses, as they migrate the bulk of their attention to eCommerce.
Many experts claim that the recent restrictions placed on retail outlets only accelerated a process that has already been in effect for years. With the rise of fast fashion and the general oversaturation of the market, it has been a difficult hill to climb for most clothing stores. The events of this past year have only compounded these issues, which has left business owners scrambling in an attempt to righten the ship.
The following guide will shed a little light as to what has happened to the fashion industry as a whole, and why eCommerce SEO might be the only workable solution for businesses that not only want to recoup their losses but also grow.
What’s Happening to the Fashion Industry?
From big national chains to small boutiques, it seems clothing retailers can’t escape current buying trends and the unfortunate results of forced closings in light of this year’s events. The reality is that many factors have contributed to the decline, including stagnant wages and the ripple effects of the ongoing recession, as well as a general shift in fashion trends away from designer fashion and toward casual athleisure and affordable brands.
Although this seems like a doom and gloom scenario, it really isn’t. Industries constantly change, and in order to remain relevant, businesses have to shift their business model around and adapt with the times. You could make the argument that the fashion industry, in general, has been very reluctant to “get with the times” and cater to its customers properly. While certain brands have indeed found a way to adapt, the majority of these retail outlets have been hit hard this year, because they were already working on fragile margins to begin with.
Even massively popular chains such as American Eagle Outfitters, Nordstrom, JCPenney, and J. Crew have all either filed for bankruptcy or are flirting with it, and have had to make drastic changes in order to keep operating. This includes permanent store closures, which have a ripple effect on other nearby businesses. This is part of what has contributed to the so-called “retail apocalypse” and why the country is now littered with dead malls. You might be wondering, if these big chains are even feeling the effects of 2020, what chance does your Shopify or BigCommerce clothing store have?
The fact that you are operating an eCommerce business might actually be to your advantage, and might be the key to reversing this downward trend in the fashion industry.
Traditional Retail is Changing
Buying habits have shifted dramatically over the past few years. Not too long ago, the idea of frequently shopping online was unheard of. Now, many of us even get our groceries delivered right to our doorstep using online shopping services. Everything from cosmetics to shoes to expensive electronics are readily available online. You have no shortage of choices either, with big names like Amazon leading the pack, as well as hundreds of smaller stores for every industry you can think of.
While most of us still do our grocery shopping in-store, the same can’t be said for every industry. About half of all consumer electronics are now bought online, for instance, and not coincidentally, this isn’t really an industry that has been hit that hard in recent months. The fashion industry is another area of retail that is seeing a shift to eCommerce, for a multitude of reasons.
The overhead that’s required to operate and manage an in-store location makes it difficult to compete with an online store. While some may find the prospect of purchasing clothing online to be inconvenient because you can’t feel the garments or try them on, this hasn’t deterred many consumers, who prefer the greater selection and convenience.
One of the biggest challenges as a clothing retailer is deciding what to do with your very limited floor space. Small boutiques suffer from this problem more so than the larger chains, but the commonality of not being able to display everything you have on hand is still present. These outlets have to carefully manage their stock and also must arrange their store in such a way that it maximizes the amount of clothing they can display without clogging up the flow of movement for foot traffic, in order to create the best possible experience for the consumer.
Even with professionals on hand to put together a beautiful clothing store arrangement, these locations simply don’t offer enough of a draw anymore compared to the convenience and practicality of buying online. While some brands have recognized this and have allocated more resources to their digital storefronts, many businesses haven’t taken the hint and it has cost them.
Traditional retail is changing rapidly and may never be the same, but this isn’t the signal to throw in the towel. Rather, you should take this as the perfect opportunity to realign your business priorities and invest in the eCommerce side of your store, with a little SEO to build a strong foundation.
Why Fashion Industry SEO Provides a Pathway Forward
It’s clear that the future of retail is online. We’re already seeing clear signs of this transition taking place, and the events of 2020 have only pushed this process along. If you aren’t already investing in eCommerce, now’s the time to start.
You may already have an online store up and running yet have failed to get any traction. How do you compete against the name brand websites and big sites like Amazon and eBay hogging all of the Google real estate? While the industry may seem saturated, there is still a demand for all kinds of clothing, you simply have to know how to spot opportunities in your specific sub-niche and take advantage of them through a comprehensive and aggressive fashion eCommerce SEO campaign.
It’s difficult to know where to begin if you are just starting to make the transition from brick and mortar to eCommerce, especially if you have tried and failed in the past to get any traction with certain digital marketing tactics. The main hurdle most businesses face online is generating consistent organic traffic. No matter how big or small your clothing store is, you need to be able to target the best long-tail keywords in your niche and develop strong content around them, which includes informative product pages and engaging blog content.
The reason why investing in SEO may be the best possible option for your clothing business is because, despite the competition that’s out there, and the state of retail in general, you can always build a base of organic traffic by targeting the right keywords and creating great content.
Here are some points to consider when crafting an SEO strategy for your clothing store:
- What are the specific goals for your business?
- What is your target demographic?
- What kinds of trends and trendy terms can you use in your marketing?
- Do you offer anything unique, and if you don’t, how can you put a different spin on the products you are selling to separate yourself from your competitors?
- Do the aesthetics of your brand match your target market?
- Do you stand by your products and make a strong case for them on every product page?
- Have you taken the necessary steps to ensure that your website looks professional and is on a great eCommerce platform?
You have to put the same amount of time and effort into your digital storefront as you would with any brick and mortar location, if not more so. Not only do you have to look the part, but your website also needs to be properly optimized in order to provide your users with a high-quality experience that’s fast, intuitive, aesthetic, and secure.
SEO Compared to Other Forms of Digital Marketing
Why not simply spend money on paid advertising and forget about SEO? While social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest make it easy to craft attractive ads that can certainly draw traffic to your store and result in decent conversions, this isn’t the most sustainable long-term option.
PPC and social media advertising are a great short-term strategy if your website has already been properly optimized and you are thinking about opening a second marketing channel to grow your brand with. SEO is what will provide you with qualified organic traffic that is already searching for products to purchase. Both have their benefits, especially for the fashion industry, but SEO is where you want to place most of your attention if you are thinking about the long-term.
Fashion eCommerce is extremely competitive, which means that it’s more important to craft a powerful brand identity and offer a unique experience than it is trying to go toe-to-toe with other businesses that may have more advertising budget than you do. Through a sophisticated and well-implemented SEO campaign, you will be able to enhance the user experience of your website and bring in traffic from very specific keywords that are directly related to your brand and products.
This will provide the foundation you need to carve out your own niche and get a steady stream of potential customers visiting your website. From here, it would make more sense to expand out to other forms of digital marketing that would complement, but not replace, your SEO strategy.
Building a Website That Your Customers Will Love
Throughout this process of transitioning to eCommerce, you have to keep in mind the importance of the shopping experience for your customers. Popular and successful fashion outlets didn’t get to where they are by providing a bland and forgettable experience.
Your website should be functional and attractive, providing a unique visual experience that also informs your users as to the best aspects of your products. To accomplish this, every page on your website should be carefully designed with the user in mind. Beautiful product pictures, informative product descriptions, easy to use navigation, and rich blog content will go a long way toward building a following and pushing your position up in the SERPs.
The edge you have to create for yourself online is how your website makes the user feel, compared to the hundreds of other stores that are out there selling similar products. If you focus on quality and optimize your website for both the search engines and your users, you’re going to find success in eCommerce and wonder why you didn’t make the switch sooner.
We Can Help With Your Fashion SEO Campaign
The idea of managing your own SEO campaign is not recommended. Even if you have an extensive background in eCommerce and a little technical know-how, it takes a great deal of experience in SEO to get consistent results. While it is clear that search engine optimization provides one of the best paths forward for struggling fashion businesses, that doesn’t mean putting an SEO campaign together is a walk in the park.
If you want to build your brand and begin showing up on page one for the keywords in your niche, you need the help of an eCommerce SEO agency that specifically caters to the fashion industry and has a history of helping clothing boutiques rank for even the most competitive keywords. If you operate a clothing store and are thinking about jumping into eCommerce, you need SEO services that will give you the proper foundation you need in order to succeed.
Here at 1Digital®, we have extensive experience when it comes to building SEO campaigns that get results, no matter the industry. When it comes to clothing outlets, in particular, we understand how difficult times are and that you need a powerful solution that can help salvage your business. Give us a call at 888.982.8269 and let’s talk about how we can get some momentum going for your store. If you know your website needs some improvements in order to compete, we also provide powerful custom development solutions for eCommerce businesses, regardless of the platform you are on.
- Matt Lovett
- October 23, 2020