Creating data-driven strategies and unlocking additional value in fashion marketing

This content is produced by a member of The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

The fashion industry is impacted immensely by a long list of variables often out of the retailer’s control. Whether it’s significant return rates, changing product margins or the probability of customers returning to your brand, zooming into what is really happening under the hood of your data allows you to navigate more efficient, profit-boosting marketing. Chris Attewell, chief executive officer at Search Laboratory, considers the evolution of retail.

With online retail continuing to grow at a record-breaking pace and rising customer expectations, sculpting data-driven motives is key to evolving your digital marketing into a mature and sustainable strategy.

Search Laboratory has produced a white paper delving deep into searching for additional value in the fashion industry. Data experts discuss the power of looking at individual product metrics and forming a bespoke, data-driven strategy best suited to your market. It is not uncommon for products that appear to be driving the highest revenue to be actually operating at a negative ROI when additional factors are accounted for.

After considering some of the key challenges fashion faces in the likes of margins, returns and customer lifetime value, data begins to reveal the enormous environmental and economic costs distorting your profits. From a top-level snippet into SKU (product)-level data, it becomes possible to fill in the gaps within your data and use the additional value to develop your marketing.

Margins

Arguably the most deceptive challenge in fashion, product margins are a frequently misleading metric. Many retailers will have margins ranging from 25-35% within the same blended ROAS target spread across several products. This immediately creates a significant difference that can account for up to a 40% increase in profit for the same ROAS.

By adopting an item-by-item approach, you’re able to see which products are most profitable and where is going to be best to invest your efforts. A common example is dresses. There may be unanimously high revenue on a new range of women’s dresses that on paper are driving great profits. However, it may have a small margin and huge return rate, which means it brings in less profit than an item selling significantly less volumes, but with a higher margin and fewer returns.

Returns

Optoro estimates that just 50% of returns make it back into store inventory. The impact of customer return rates on fashion retailers is monumental. By adopting the same item-by-item basis, it’s possible to heighten your view of your data, allowing the insights to navigate informed and profitable decisions, while improving the experience and customer journey within your project.

A UK study of 2,000 shoppers found that 78% would buy more in the long run from retailers with free returns. Three-quarters said returns are a key part of how they select a retailer and 86% say free returns will make them more loyal. It’s evident that returns are important to customers, and zooming into your returns data will nurture a better understanding of what strategy works best for your business and its audience. Continuing to push a product that is heavily returned could waste valuable marketing budget.

Customer lifetime value (LTV)

Customer lifetime value is another variable that differs greatly across industries, retailers and markets, yet is equally as important to all. By recognizing the probability of a customer returning to your site/service after their first purchase, you can use this to steer your entire approach.

Whether it’s implementing personalized messaging and offers to users likely to return or simply considering the likelihood in your marketing, moving closer to the different personas and their behaviors will only benefit your business.

Download a free copy of the white paper here to learn more about evolving your marketing into a mature and sustainable paragon.