CEO Sharon Price John says Build-A-Bear’s old e-commerce system is a big reason for disappointing online sales in December.
LaurenGabrielson.com’s improved site features better product images and soon will have video.
Detailed product images and better search engine optimization are helping 23-year-old start-up fashion designer Lauren Gabrielson begin the process of building an e-commerce following. She sells her self-titled high-end women’s apparel line mostly in New York boutiques, but the company says that 10% of sales now come from LaurenGabrielson.com, thanks in part to recent site improvements.
After firing its old e-commerce vendor, the apparel retailer earlier this year employed technology provider BigCommerce, along with its design and marketing partner Madwire Media, to update the site and make it more visible in search engine results.
One of the main tasks was to make sure online consumers searching for designer women’s apparel could find the retailer. The retailer’s new e-commerce platform includes customizable page titles and product description pages, which helps search engines better index and rank the site. Search engine optimization integrated into the BigCommerce software allows Lauren Gabrielson to dub a particular page on site as “Custom-made dress,” for example, says David Pereira, the retailer’s CEO. “If you enter ‘custom-made dress NYC,’ we are on the first page of Google, and that was never happening before,” he says.
The apparel retailer also beefed up its online shopping experience. The BigCommerce software includes a zoom option that enables customers to mouse over a particular dress, for example, and see close-up views in a pop-up box that offers detailed looks at the fabric and texture. Shoppers can also see related products and apply different colors to product images, all of which Pereira says are important when selling luxury apparel on the web. “As I build my sales, I can add features that bring into play the type of features on the site that are important in fashion retailing,” he says.
The apparel retailer credits the changes with a recent increase in site traffic, to about 50 unique visitors per day from five. Sales have increased to four or five per month from only one in six months on the previous platform. The retailer is on track to bring in $200,000 in sales this year, Pereira says, with 10% coming from the e-commerce site. The designer’s garments carry sizable price tags. For example, the 14 dresses on offer on the site range in price from $198 to $795.
Lauren Gabrielson would not say exactly how much the improvements cost, but says it pays Big Commerce about 20% of what it paid its previous design and e-commerce platform provider for an e-commerce site that brought in only one sale. Fees for BigCommerce 7 software, the vendor’s current version, ranges from $25 to $300 per month, depending on the number of products and bandwidth retailers use. The software enables retailers to integrate e-mail marketing through iContact, live chat through Olark and drop shipping via Ordoro.
Encouraged by the success of the site, the retailer plans to eventually offer short videos on each product page that highlight what the clothing looks like in motion and from different angles. “We are getting to the point in e-retailing that buyers like to get a little more info before they buy, and clearly these videos are the way to go,” Pereira says. “But it costs a lot more money to have a video for each product, so with BigCommerce I can start by making one video and see how it goes, and then add more videos. I could have linked some YouTube videos, but BigCommerce offers the ability to embed video at the level of the store so the shopper doesn't leave the product purchase page.”