Shopping for clothes means looking for that perfect fit, going beyond the mirror to get feedback from friends and offering touches that provide entry into a world of glamour and prestige. The apparel and accessories retailers in this year’s Hot 100 show how to use the web to provide that kind of experience.
For starters, take custom shirt retailer Blank Label, which launched its e-commerce site a year ago. Online shoppers can pay a flat per-shirt price and still add custom touches that go beyond fabric and color to include the look of collars, shoulders, cuffs, pockets and buttons. And shoppers don’t have to worry about facing too many daunting choices: The retailer, listening to its customers, cut some customization options it decided were unnecessary.
Other retailers are working hard to make sure shoppers find the right size. Shoe seller DSW enables consumers to shop by width and heel height, and has a tool that helps the shopper determine if shoes are too narrow, wide, short or long. Bergdorf Goodman Inc. offers charts that enable consumers to select from classic, modern, American, European and women’s sizes.
Customization and sizing, however, doesn’t do it for all apparel shoppers. They need the input and examples of trusted advisors—in most cases, friends and online confidants. Bergdorf Goodman enables shoppers to e-mail product pages to friends. Bluefly Inc., which sells discounted designer apparel, launched its “Closet Confessions” marketing campaign. Not only can shoppers, via online video tours, look inside the closets of fashion-enabled celebrities, but they can also gain guidance from videos and photographs posted by consumers who exist outside the spotlight. David’s Bridal, meanwhile, offers a live chat service to help brides find their perfect dresses.
But so much of fashion is about the glow, which often comes through visuals for luxury apparel retailers. Burberry.com, for instance, features movie-quality video of models cavorting in the latest styles, backed by upbeat music. The retailer even streamed online a live fashion show this year, with shoppers able to click on items to buy.
This year’s hottest apparel and accessories retailers thus make online shopping exciting in ways not possible in physical stores.
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