United Arrows gets a healthy level of sales from online sources, but loses much of the margin, not to mention customer data, to third party e-commerce operators. In order to encourage more customers to shop with it directly, it is pioneering a clever tool developed in Sweden that helps to minimise sizing errors.
United Arrows has introduced a new way to help online customers order the right size of garment, as part of a programme of site improvements to improve online sales. Called Virtusize (www.virtusize.com), the system comes from a Swedish firm that launched in 2011 and has since added clients like Asos, Monsoon and Boomerang, as well as Dinos and Magaseek in Japan.
Retailers embed the Virtusize system in their online stores, and customers see a “Check the size” button next to the size specifications of any garment. The system then offers two ways to compare the measurements of the selected item, either by comparing an item previously purchased on the site or one of the customer’s existing garments at home. In the latter case, customers simply measure their existing garment, and the system then compares the measurements with the prospective purchase using a semi-transparent overlay.
By making it simple and quick for customers to compare browsed garments with their own, Virtusize claims that its e-commerce clients see a 50% reduction in fit-related returns, and all the customer service, freight and inventory problems returns create. It also says it means an increase in sales as customers are more confident in making a purchase.
Virtusize is one of several improvements United Arrows has made to its online store in a bid to improve online sales and increase the connection between online shoppers and its stores. While some competitors like Urban Research see as much as 25% of sales come from online, United Arrows garners around 11.2%, just a fraction higher than two years ago. Most of these sales come from third party sites, especially Zozotown.
United Arrows is doing all it can to make shopping at its own online store more appealing. As well as virtual fitting, United Arrows customers can now see store stock levels online and reserve an item to try on at their local store. Like its competitors, in order to improve margins United Arrows is keen to increase the ratio of online sales that pass through its own online store rather than sites such as Zozotown. Indeed all the select shop chains are growing impatient over both the loss of margin to Zozotown and the lack of ownership of customer data, and are expected to look for other ways to entice fashion shoppers away from portals.
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