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Borrow these ideas from the biggest fashion retailers

Borrow these ideas from the biggest fashion retailers

Published on 2024-01-04 by Gemma Nickerson

In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, the fashion sector faces a precarious year ahead - so to secure existing market share and grow, retailers need to find new ways to reach and engage customers.

In this article, we’ll highlight tactics being used by some of the UK’s best-known fashion brands and retailers, examining innovative ideas from DTC brands, discussing established (but regularly overlooked) basics that many retailers could benefit from, and more.

[ASOS] Refer a Friend

Most merchants are more than happy to pay affiliates or ad networks for referrals, so why not pay your customers? Asos’ Refer a Friend programme offers a generous discount to both referrer and referee, but probably still remains cheaper than many other acquisition channels - not to mention generating positive customer sentiment.


[H&M] Recommerce

As consumers become increasingly environmentally conscious, fashion brands and retailers are becoming more eager to demonstrate their eco-credentials. Combine that with the cost-of-living crisis, and it’s not hard to see why the second hand clothing market is expected to reach nearly £300B by 2027.

H&M are exploring resale opportunities in various markets, including working with platforms such as thredUP, running instore pilot programmes, and operating their own Preloved store in their home market of Sweden.


[TK Maxx] Relentless Focus on Price

Since their launch, TK Maxx (and their US parent TJ Maxx), have focused on price as their key differentiator, with consistent “Top brands for less” messaging in their marketing campaigns, store point-of-purchase, and online. 

This strategy reduces customers’ propensity to look elsewhere, by constantly reassuring them that they’re unlikely to find products cheaper, even when selling high-value items such as those found in their “Gold Label” programme.

[Nike] Membership Programme

As Amazon realised many years ago, Prime members spend double - so member programmes are a worthy consideration. Whilst they are by no-means new, savvy brands like Nike have evolved the idea by focusing on value-add services such as personalisation and exclusive products. 

As well as free delivery and simplified returns, Nike offers premium content, demonstrating their sportswear credentials, and showcasing their partnerships with leading sportspeople. 

Perhaps most effectively, Nike position “Nike Membership” as a community of like-minded individuals, rather than a simple discount and reward scheme. This approach engenders brand loyalty, inspires user-generated content, and even offers members the opportunity to connect with each other via a family of members-only apps.


[Primark] Click & Collect

Primark is unusual, in that it does not currently offer home delivery, preferring to rely on their network of stores to fulfil orders. Whatever you think of this strategy - if you have the luxury of bricks-and-mortar stores, incentivising customers to visit can offer opportunities for upselling and allow customers to resolve issues quickly.

[ASDA] Category Store-Within-a-Store

Whether you think of UK supermarket ASDA as a fashion retailer or not, their clothing brand George consistently features in the UK’s top 15 most popular fashion brands, and their clothing turnover is undeniable (typically more than £500m per annum).

Specifically, ASDA’s George “School Uniform Store” is a clearly differentiated sub-store with dedicated creative showcasing the range, whilst clearly communicating George’s inexorable focus on value.

Year-round, but particularly during the back-to-school season, the school uniform store demonstrates to parents how seriously ASDA takes the category. Combined with their back-to-school marketing campaigns, ASDA have achieved real ownership of the niche.


[JD Sports] Klarna

Klarna is probably the best-known of the buy now pay later fintech brands - enabling buyers to get what they want now by delaying payment, or by paying in instalments.

Not without its ethical considerations, offering Klarna as a payment option enables those in need of products (such as sports equipment or trainers), who don’t have access to immediate funds or conventional credit, an appropriate solution. Additionally, Klarna offers better protection to shoppers than some other payment options, helping consumers feel confident when making purchases.

JD Sports implements Klarna as part of a wide variety of payment options, clearly explains it to their customers, and doesn’t give it undue prominence during the browsing or checkout process. 

[John Lewis] Personal Styling

In the digital age, shoppers have become somewhat detached from retailers, leaving them less inclined to browse, and negatively impacting loyalty. John Lewis capitalise on their reputation for knowledgeable and helpful staff by offering appointments with their personal stylists to help shoppers spend their hard-earned cash.

Personal shoppers - either in person or virtual - offer a premium experience, which can help customers think outside the box, encouraging them to shop beyond their normal tastes, and reassuring them that premium purchases are worthwhile.

[Marks & Spencer] See It Like It Buy It

Taught to visual merchandising trainees for decades, the concept is self-explanatory, but powerful: If a customer sees products in advertising, on a mannequin, or some point of sale material, those SKUs should be quickly locatable and well stocked, so they can buy with ease.

M&S’s digital merchandising discipline is commendable, with dedicated “Shop Our TV ad” views and carefully curated landing pages for all the digital treatments we could find. M&S also invests in art, product photography and other digital assets, to ensure customers get a cohesive experience and can easily identify the products they’re looking for.


[Amazon] Try Before You Buy

As every online fashion retailer knows, a key drawback for shoppers is the inability to feel the fabrics and try on clothes. To combat this, Amazon offers Prime members the opportunity to Try Before You Buy.

Whilst this might seem redundant in a world of free returns, if customers are unsure of their size, or anxious about buying items they’re unlikely to keep, this can lead to abandoned baskets.

By taking payment details, and clearly communicating the date by which time customers must return unwanted items, Amazon eliminates risk to itself, and wins customers who don’t have access to credit, or are undecided on a high-value purchase.

[Next] Influencer & Celebrity Partnerships

For many years, fashion retailers have partnered with celebrities and influencers to gain attention in crowded markets, endorse their products, design their own collections and more. When launched successfully, partnerships’ impact on brand awareness can be huge; particularly where the celeb promotes to their audience.

As a retailer with a wide customer demographic and a large product catalogue spanning multiple categories, Next carefully chooses celebrities to model and promote specific ranges - often, using this strategy to change consumer perception of their brand, and achieve relevance with new segments.


[Clarks] Incentivised Newsletter Opt-In

Finally, Clarks makes use of one of the most reliable and well-established ways of building marketing audiences; the incentivised opt-in. Their particular execution is the commonly seen “Sign up for our emails and get 15% off your first order” - which also serves the secondary purpose of improving conversion rates.

Whether or not the prospective customer converts on this occasion, securing their opt-in and gaining a valuable email address affords Clarks the opportunity to build a long-term relationship, and increase lifetime value.


If you’re a retailer looking to drive sales and grow your brand, get in touch with Remarkable Commerce today. Our platform enables some of the UK’s best-known brands to deliver outstanding customer experiences and super-speed their digital agility. To find out more call us on +44 (0)800 222 9845.  

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