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6 Keys to Selling Decorated Apparel Online

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6 Keys to Selling Decorated Apparel Online

nline shoppers make lightning-fast decisions on whether to stay or leave an ecommerce site and nearly half decide within just 10 seconds. One-fifth even does so within a mere five seconds.

This means the stakes are high for your decorated-apparel site, especially if it lacks a visually appealing design, intuitive navigation or mobile-friendly purchasing options. A complicated checkout process can also be the tipping point that leads to significant cart abandonment. In an industry where a majority of print shops sell online and manage e-stores for customers, it’s crucial to know six key strategies to thrive in the digital marketplace.

1. Set Your Site Up for Success

Start with this handy checklist of essential elements to create a user-friendly and effective online store to sell decorated apparel.

Does your site have a clean design?
Shoppers don’t want to be bombarded by tons of text and photos.

Is your branding consistent?
Your site should mirror the look and feel of your physical store, along with the aesthetics and colors of your logo and other identifying marks.

Is it easy to get around your site?
Shoppers shouldn’t need a map to navigate your online store. Your design should mirror where they expect to find certain elements, and easily lead them from browsing to buying.

Does your site include high-quality photos?
“High-quality product photography is crucial for driving sales and establishing a solid brand presence,” says Matt Satell, director of ecommerce at RushOrderTees.

“Highlight your products from a variety of angles and perspectives to give customers a complete view. Clear, high-resolution photography instills trust and leads to a higher conversion rate. Effective product photos also help reduce returns by properly setting expectations.”
Matt Satell, director of ecommerce at RushOrderTees

Is your checkout process seamless?
In other words, make it as easy as possible for a customer to order and pay. For example, you might not want to require them to create an account first. It’s also a good idea to offer multiple payment options.

Is it easy to contact you?
Your site should have a clear contact page, with multiple ways to reach out. A chatbot on your site that routes customers to a live person can make it easy for people to do business with you as well.

2. Move Over for Mobile

Once you’ve set up your site. don’t minimize responsive design and mobile optimization for your apparel ecommerce site. Mobile sales hit more than $3.5 trillion in 2021, accounting for more than 70% of ecommerce sales.

“Mobile usage has skyrocketed with a majority of web traffic and ecommerce sales now taking place on mobile devices. Customers often browse and shop on the go, so if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you risk losing a large chunk of your potential audience.”
Matt Satell, director of ecommerce at RushOrderTees

If you create a mobile-responsive e-store, you’re ensuring that your buyers can easily navigate the site and complete their order without difficulty. When your site is poorly designed and not optimized for mobile, you’ll lose sales left and right thanks to the annoying user experience. Plus, Google’s search algorithm prioritizes mobile-responsive sites, boosting your SEO ranking.

“Ensuring your site is responsive is critical to conversions, user experience, brand perception and SEO, as search engines now prefer mobile-optimized websites,” says JP Hunt, head of partnerships at Inktavo.

“The bottom line is that responsive design and mobile optimization are crucial for an apparel e-commerce site to provide a seamless, enjoyable and productive experience for mobile users. Ignoring these factors could result in missed sales opportunities, decreased customer satisfaction and a weaker online presence vs. your competitors.”
JP Hunt, head of partnerships at Inktavo

3. Reduce Cart Abandonment

There are so many reasons why shoppers abandon their online shopping carts. Here are some of the top triggers that'll send them packing, according to surveys:

1. When they wait for the site to load for three seconds or longer (57%)

2. When they need to re-enter their credit card or shipping info (55%)

3. When they encounter too many extra costs like shipping, taxes and other fees (48%)

4. If a discount code they wanted to use doesn’t work (46%)

5. When it’s too difficult to enter their personal information or create an account before they can buy (39%)

6. When the checkout process is too long and complex, or the total order cost isn’t displayed (33%).

Five Ways to Ease Those Cart Abandonment Woes

1. Simplify the checkout process by reducing the information required.

Excessive form fields increase cart abandonment rates. Did you know that about 80% of consumers abandon online forms requiring too much information?

“Remove that friction by taking out non-essential fields from your checkout form. You can always capture more information after you make the sale.”
Matt Satell, director of ecommerce at RushOrderTees

2. Enhance website or app speed and functionality.

This helps to prevent customer frustration caused by slow loading times and complex navigation. “These are among the most important factors to keep customers from getting frustrated: have a simple user interface, clear checkout progress indicators, a guest checkout vs. forcing an account creation, a clear and visible shopping car summary, and a simple and straightforward order confirmation,” Hunt says.

3. Combat cart abandonment by offering incentives.

Try offering free shipping or special coupons to entice customers back.

4. Offer social proof to convert skeptics to buyers.

“Social proof is important for building customer trust and credibility,” Satell says, and it can take various forms, including customer reviews, testimonials or endorsements.

“Customers are inherently skeptical, so the more specific and authentic the social proof, the more powerful it is. Try to incorporate social proof in your checkout flow to help visitors get across the finish line and complete their purchase.”
Matt Satell, director of ecommerce at RushOrderTees

5. Conduct your own funnel analysis or implement a digital experience intelligence (DXI) solution.

Find services that include tools like session replays and heatmaps. That way, you can identify and address reasons for cart abandonment while improving overall customer experiences on your site.

4. Pick the Right Products and Designs

Launching an online store with too many products is the most common mistake Hunt sees shop print owners make.

“So many businesses assume more products are better for customers. They think they miss a sales opportunity if they can’t cater to every conceivable need or preference. My advice is to critically and carefully curate products and concentrate on those that cater to most shoppers.”
JP Hunt, head of partnerships at Inktavo

“The Pareto principle is very present in online transactions: 80% of your revenue comes from just 20% of the products offered in an online store,” says Hunt.
Here are some tips for choosing the right product and design mix:

Do market research.

That could include surveying your customers, reviewing your sales data and doing research to learn what products and designs resonate with the market you want to serve.

Rely on your suppliers to learn about popular and trending products.

“They’re a wealth of information and have many resources like lookbooks and marketing tools to effectively present and sell products,” Hunt says.

Weigh pricing and availability.

What will your customers pay for a t-shirt or hoodie? Is high quality more important to them than saving a few bucks? Can you easily source the products you need from your suppliers? Consider seasonal availability too, such as stocking green shirts around Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day, or red and blue shirts for Independence Day.

5. Cover Your Social Media Bases

You already know your brand needs to be on social media finding and engaging with the right buyers. Here’s a rundown of our quick tips to finetune your social media strategies:

1. Understand the markets you serve.

“Niche market segments can be profitable and can help to diversify season sales,” Hunt says. “These markets are often underserved, which means you can charge premium prices. Research and market knowledge are critical to approaching a niche market strategy. Start with markets you’re passionate about or are interested in and have some degree of expertise.”

2. Use the social media platforms where your buyers live.

For example, if you target corporate buyers, LinkedIn might be your spot. Instagram or TikTok are better for reaching a younger, visually oriented audience to build brand awareness. If you want to share links and drive people to your site, Facebook or X might be beneficial. Video content is best suited for YouTube and TikTok.

3. Prioritize video content.

“Short-format video is a powerful and effective way to communicate with any audience,” Hunt says. “Video offers an easy way for consumers to consume information. Level up your social media campaigns and content marketing with a video-first approach.”

4. Keep communication channels open.

Some brands create a Twitter ( now known as “X” ) account just to handle customer service requests or questions about orders. You can use Facebook or Instagram Messenger to interact with customers in real time in a timely way. (Adding a chat widget to your website is also a smart idea.) When people complain or offer feedback, take it seriously and implement changes that you can share on social media to show you’re listening.

5. Provide a balance between promotional and valuable content.

People come to your social to score freebies, discount codes and business-building tips.

6. Build an online community.

Invite your audience to participate by holding fun contests, asking them to comment, or to share and tag your products using branded hashtags.

7. Always include a relevant call-to-action in each post to drive traffic and engagement.

The primary aim of your posts is to funnel traffic to your e-commerce site. Use CTAs that give prospects an incentive to engage with you and convert to customers.

6. Focus on Customer Service

Great customer service results in happy, loyal customers who refer you to others. A general business rule of thumb is that it’s harder and more expensive to attract new customers than to keep your current crew.

In fact, 95% of buyers use high-quality customer service as a barometer of whether or not to continue shopping with a brand. That’s why good customer service should reflect in how your site operates and how you resolve issues people experience while buying.

“In the competitive world of online apparel retail, stellar customer service is an essential ingredient for success,” Satell says. “Since customers can't try on clothes or ask in-person questions, swift and helpful support becomes the lifeline for making or breaking a sale.

“By offering timely, accurate and empathetic help, you cultivate trust, encourage repeat business, and stand out in a crowded marketplace. Excellent customer service also paves the way for positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations, which are particularly influential in the fashion industry and can significantly impact your brand's long-term viability.”
Matt Satell, director of ecommerce at RushOrderTees

Chart Your Ecommerce Course

In ecommerce’s fast-paced world, your print shop’s success hinges on impeccable customer experiences and making quick decisions about how to improve your site’s ease of use. The keys to thriving in this digital landscape are crystal clear – from mobile optimization to reducing cart abandonment, curating the right products, mastering social media, and delivering exceptional customer service, these strategies will help you stay competitive.

Oct 8, 2023