Paige Murphy reports on winning digital strategies by Australian brands. To read more in-depth stories like this, subscribe to our print edition here.
The digital world continues to offer consumers a smorgasbord of choice, as well as the convenience of purchasing just about anything online, anytime, anywhere.
As consumers become savvier with their shopping experience, it has become imperative for designer brands to seek out new ways to engage and entice customers to spend with them in order to survive in what has become a tough retail climate.
Capitalising on key periods and creating engaging content, as well as offering perks to customers are just some of the strategies in which designers are employing to make a point of difference and stand out from their competitors.
For Australian label Bec + Bridge, online sales have been increasing between 50% and 130% year-on-year every month for the past two years.
The brand attributes this to a website redesign, online marketing and introducing free domestic shipping.
Bec + Bridge’s brand and sales director Jordana Sexton says that for the label, new season launches help to drive sales – particularly in high summer.
“New season launches are always high traffic drivers for us, high summer collections in particular which are the most anticipated of all the seasons.
“Our peak conversion rate for this year for instance has been achieved in October. This month’s results were considerably higher than our average conversion rate across other months.”
She says spring racing is an extremely important period for the brand with dresses making up the majority of sales during this time frame.
“Spring racing is huge for us and there is a heavy focus on our dress category during this period – for instance, dresses made up 73% of all sales in September ‘18 alone.”
During sales periods, she says while dresses remain the best selling category, there is a definite increase in customers purchasing outerwear.
“Dresses are always our best selling category regardless of the sales we are running, however the jackets and blazers categories will increase when on sale.”
In terms of site traffic, the womenswear label has experienced the shift from desktop to mobile with the highest percentage of sales coming through from mobile.
It has also witnessed considerable return on investment from the EDMs it produces, along with running a strong social media strategy through Instagram.
“New season launch EDMs are our best marketing tools. We also see a high ROI on sponsored Instagram posts which we have only recently started to run for the brand,” Sexton says.
“On top of that, we saw a huge ROI on our Instagram posts and videos that we pushed out for our new bridal edit.
“This collection sold out within a few days of being online and we were forced to produce re-cuts almost immediately.”
With a strong physical presence in Australia and further expansion in the U.S. this year, design house Flannel are driving sales in its online store through a mix of traditional retail sales and newer promotional periods.
The brand’s managing director John Lawrence said these periods continue to assist with driving both traffic and conversion rates on the brand’s site.
“We continue to see increases in both traffic to our site as well as conversion around traditional key retail dates including end of financial year and Boxing Day sales.
“Having said that, there has been notably more activity as we adopt new promotions such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”
Like Bec + Bridge, spring racing continues to be an important period in the calendar for Flannel, helping to create a significant increase in sales.
It is during this period and in the lead up to the festive season when summer begins, that remain the strongest times for the brand.
“Our sales will spike on average 20% across the racing season and in the lead up to Christmas. Once Boxing Day sales hit we are easily seeing increases in excess of 50%.”
Lawrence also notes that it is actually the label’s menswear which sees a considerable increase during the Christmas period as customers prepare to buy gifts.
“Interestingly, our menswear actually experience higher percentage increases than womenswear during the Christmas period as gifting comes into focus.”
He says sales periods are key for future strategic planning, with both financial and product decisions made as a result.
“Sale period is an important event when forecasting revenue and we do plan for them when putting together our inventory strategy.
“There are a number of key marketing activities we roll out throughout the year to inspire sales, as well as always acknowledging loyal customers.”
While dresses tend to be a best-selling category for many designers, particularly during sale, Lawrence said all product categories at Flannel receive uniform attention due to its transeasonal offering.
“All product categories receive attention during sale period. Our clothing can be worn year-round, so while one customer might be purchasing a cashmere jumper another is purchasing a silk sleeveless dress.”
Similar to Bec + Bridge, Flannel has also witnessed a big shift in where traffic is coming from.
“We have seen a clear shift from desktop to mobile in the past couple of years from our customers.”
Lawrence also says Instagram has been integral in driving sales for the brand.
“Instagram is a key sales channel for us. The ability to immediately connect with a large and highly engaged portion of our customer base to instantly let them know when product has dropped in store and online is invaluable.”
This is just the beginning for online sites, Lawrence adds.
“With a strong physical presence across Australia with nine brick and mortar stores in major capital cities, we are looking to replicate this in the digital space.
“We’re just starting to flex our muscles and with what we’ve seen so far, the future is looking very exciting for Flannel.”
At Leona Edmiston, external events and seasonal marketing promotions help to drive both traffic and sales for its online store, leading to a substantial increase in new customers.
The dress designer’s sales manager Melissa Ashcroft explains that this was a stark contrast to the brand’s brick and mortar stores where new full price arrivals receive more attention.
“Peak periods [online] are driven 50% by external events like Vogue Fashion Night Out, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We see a 15% increase on new customers to label.
“50% is driven by our seasonal marketing promotions, whether they be mid season sale or special promotions like two for $250 on our diffusion selling.
“We see high traffic for both new and existing customers at these times.
“Overall peak periods are definitely brought on by sale, discounting, etcetera – not by new full price arrivals.
“This is more the case for our brick and mortar customers.”
As with other designer brands, Ashcroft admits from August through to December, sales at Leona Edmiston see a dramatic rise across full price and discounted stock.
“We see an increase in sales, particularly from August to December for event season [and] racing.
“As a dress designer that caters for fashionable women of all shapes and sizes, we see an increase on new and discounted stock.”
While other brands are seeing an increase in mobile traffic to their sites, Leona Edmiston has seen an even ratio between mobile and desktop due to its customer base.
“[Our traffic], it’s actually 50/50. A lot of our customers are professional working women, so they will often do their shopping at their workplace, and we guarantee next day delivery for all CBD customers.”
Ashcroft reinforces Sexton’s comments on the impacts of online marketing in driving online sales.
Creating engaging marketing materials that look like editorials has received great traction in helping online sales rise for the brand.
“The EDMs that are editorial and show ‘edits’ so you can imagine how to style the dress and complete your look [help to increase sales].”