Give customers what they want.
Apparel and accessories is, without question, the toughest category to get into on the Hot 100. First, there are a lot of these merchants. More than 23% of retailers listed in Internet Retailer's family of Guides fall into this category, and this year editors vetted more than 100 apparel and accessories sites before selecting the 29 featured on the following pages.
It's hard to get on this list because many apparel and accessories merchants do e-commerce so well that it's tough to stand out. Features, such as 360-degree view, which might have made a merchant a shoo-in three years ago are now standard. The bar rises each year and most merchants continue to meet it; this year's Hot 100 merchants manage to rise above it.
Take DestinationXL.com. The e-retailer added a "size profile" feature that lets returning customers see only the products available in their preferred sizes. They'll never waste a second browsing only to find out an item doesn't come in their size or is out of stock. That's especially important to the e-retailer's target audience: big guys who typically find it tough to find clothes that fit.
Shoptiques.com, on the other hand, encourages meandering exploration. It sells products from boutiques based anywhere from Brooklyn to Paris and informs consumers, through pictures and words, about those boutiques, their owners and product designers. Consumers are encouraged to call the boutiques directly—the phone numbers are provided—with questions. Orders are fulfilled through the boutiques. The e-retailer says the purpose of the site is to help women create their dream closet.
Sites like these are helping turn e-commerce into customer-focused commerce.
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