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February 27, 2021

Conversion Rate Optimisation For Fashion Labels: How To Sell More Clothes Online

By: Peter Gregory

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Looking to squeeze more sales out of your fashion site? Wish you could sell more clothes from your online shop without spending a fortune on marketing? This is what  Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is all about! 

CRO is a must-have skill for every new fashion brand selling their products directly to consumers, and you don’t need to be an IT wizard to master it. 

We’ve worked with thousands of small fashion labels over the years and we’ve learned a lot about e-tailing along the way. The small fashion websites that work best don’t always have the fanciest homepages or the most advanced technical features. What makes them work exceptionally well is that they’re focused on making it easy for shoppers to buy. In the online fashion industry, that’s what Conversion Rate Optimisation is really all about!

This week’s no-nonsense guide explains how Conversion Rate Optimisation works and gives you a list of tips that will work on any online retail platform, with any level of expertise. 

Conversions and sales aren’t always the same thing

In the ecommerce world, a “conversion” is any action that you want a website visitor to take. For most small online retailers, the priority is to get shoppers to buy from your site, so the only conversion worth looking at is sales

You can track lots of other actions as ‘conversions’, too; if you want to count the number of people who click ‘add to basket’ or ‘subscribe to newsletter’ on your site, you can do this too. In this guide, the only conversion we’ll talk about is clothing sales, but the principles we’ll cover are the same, whatever your goals are. 

When most fashion retailers talk about their conversion rate, they’re referring to the number of visitors, divided by the number of sales. This conversion rate is expressed as a percentage. The goal of conversion rate optimisation is to increase the percentage of site visitors who buy from you (your conversion rate), just by making your site clearer, easier to use and more compelling (optimising your site). You want to wring every last sale out of your existing site traffic!

When is it worth looking at conversion rate?

If your fashion shop is getting less than 1,000 visits a month, it might be too soon to try and improve your conversion rate. Your time might be better spent on trying to draw more visitors to your site. 

You need a large number of shoppers passing through your digital doors before you can say with any certainty what your conversion rate actually is. If you’re just getting a handful of people visiting your site every month, then your conversion rate will fluctuate wildly every month — it’ll be hard to get a reliable average. 

If your monthly site traffic is still in the low three figures, try gauging your conversion rate over a longer period of time (perhaps measuring your sales-per-site-visitor over a 3 month or 6 month period).

What’s the right conversion rate for a fashion site?

In fashion, conversion rates will change depending on the clothes you’re selling and who you’re selling those clothes to. It’s hard to know what the ‘right’ or ‘average’ conversion rate should be. 

We carried out a very quick, informal telephone poll of some of our fashion clients, and what we found was that the conversion rate in online fashion varies wildly from site to site. We couldn’t really come up with a fair and helpful ‘average’ figure, but we can tell you what the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ conversion rates were.

You can expect a small fashion website to achieve a conversion rate of anywhere between 0.5% and 5%. In other words, some sites are making 1 sale for every 200 site visitors, while others are making 1 sale for every 20 visitors. 

If you’re on the lower end of this scale and you’re seeing conversion rates of less than 1%, then don’t worry — that actually makes you a perfect candidate for conversion rate optimisation! With a little elbow grease and with the help of this guide, you can make significantly more sales to your existing audience, just by changing a few things on your site. 

How to optimise your conversion rate:

Conversion rate optimisation works in four simple steps:

  • FIRST: measure your current conversion rate
  • SECOND: make a change to your website
  • THIRD: measure your conversion rate again
  • FOURTH: keep or undo your changes, and move on to your next idea

If, for instance, you want to change the headline of every product listing on your site, start by making a note of your current conversion rate. Make your change, then check back again in a month or so (you need to allow enough time for at least 1,000 visitors to pass through the site). If, at the end of the trial period, you find that your conversion rate has improved, then congratulations — you’ve just made your site more efficient! If your conversion rate has fallen, then you just need to change your headline style back to the way it was before. 

The golden rule with conversion rate optimisation is to change one thing at a time. That way, if your conversion rate improves, you’ll know why it has improved (if you make too many changes at once, you won’t’ know what’s working and what isn’t).

If you have a ‘full’ website that you own and operate yourself (e.g. a Shopify or Magento site), then you’ll be able to change everything about the design, from button size to photo box positions, colours, fonts and more. On a marketplace-type shop (like ebay or etsy) you won’t have much control over the look and feel of the product sales page. Regardless of the type of shop you’re running, there’s always something you can do to improve your conversion rate. 

How to optimise your product pages:

The tips we’ve listed below will work on any type of online shop. We’ve focused just on changes to the product listings page, and we have ignored changes to the ‘add to basket’ process, homepage design and so on.  

Headline: The headline is the first line of text that your buyer will see. Try not to use up your character limit on adjectives like ‘beautiful’ or ‘luxurious’ – instead, state who the garment is for, (mens, womens, kids, baby etc), how the garment is styled (halter neck, boyfriend fit, jersey frill etc.), what it is made from (tweed, cotton, fleece, denim etc), any notable patterns or colours, and any specific sizes. Your buyer is going to be searching for clothes using these search terms so the more you can squeeze into your headline, the better.

Photos: As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Your first photo is the most important, as this is the one that will appear in the buyer’s search results. Ideally, the photo should work well at any resolution (it should look good in thumbnail size on a mobile phone or as a full-screen image on a desktop). It should show how the garment falls and flows, and it should give a sense of the colour and feel of the fabric. Follow-up photos should show the garment in a variety of sizes, angles and colours/styles, so that shoppers can get a good idea of whether this garment is going to work for them. 

Description: If a buyer is drawn in by your headline and photo, they will make a purchase decision based on what they can see in the description field. Your description text should be informative and helpful. You should include as much information about the fabrics, the fit, and the measurements of your garment as possible. If you offer fast shipping, an extended returns window, a special guarantee or any other buyer-friendly service, mention it here, too. 

Price: If you want to sell a garment for £10.00, consider sacrificing a penny and pricing it at £9.99. This really does make a difference to how shoppers perceive your price. This is a proven academic fact. The original research paper, titled “Price Endings, Left-Digits and Choice” was published way back in 1974 (read it here) but the power of .99-ended prices is as strong today as it ever was. 

Metadata: When you’re uploading a new product for sale, you’ll be asked for all kinds of added bits of information that don’t necessarily appear on the product’s listing page. Think of metadata as the ‘under the bonnet’ information that a website’s search function uses to decide whether your garments match a buyer’s search. Metadata includes your garment’s category (‘summer dresses’, ‘mens belts’ etc) as well as any tags or keywords that your buyer might search with (‘formal’, ‘check’, ‘cotton’, ‘beige’, ‘XXXL’ and so on). Take your time when inputting your metadata. Be as thorough and accurate as you can. You want to make it as easy as possible for buyers to find you clothes, so don’t skip this step!

Customer Reviews: You might not feel like customer reviews are ‘within your control’ (you run the risk of a buyer who doesn’t like your designs giving you a low score), but they’re such an important part of conversion rate optimisation. When a new site visitor can see reviews from real customers on your product page, they know for a fact that you’re a legitimate, reliable business. You can’t control what your customers have to say about you, but you can influence how many customers leave you a review. Try adding a small ‘thank you’ note, with instructions on how to leave a review, in every parcel you send out. Don’t fear bad reviews — if you’ve produced the very best garment you can and if you’ve shipped it to the buyer in good time, you’ll find that the vast majority of your customers are willing to give you five stars!

If in doubt, learn from the best

Conversion rate optimisation can be scary at first. If you’re getting sales, then you know that what you have is working to a degree. There’s no way of telling whether a website change is going to make things better or worse until you try it. 

Thankfully, there are big fashion businesses out there who have already gone through the conversion rate optimisation process! You can avoid a lot of big conversion rate optimisation mistakes just by looking at what the larger fashion sites are doing. 

Remember that most big fashion sites have large teams of full-time graphic designers, web technicians and sales analysts, all working to improve the conversion rates on their website. If you try matching the format of a bigger site’s product headlines, or the visual style of their photos, you’ll reduce your risk of making a costly mistake. 

Don’t see this as ‘copying’ — you’re learning about what works and what doesn’t. Industry standards exist for a reason. If you want to be unique and creative, the place to do that is in your designs and your customer experience. Your website is just the commercial engine — make it as efficient as possible and you’ll have more time to focus on delivering great clothes! 

I hope this guide has given you a good overview of Conversion Rate Optimisation. When you’re a small clothing business your time is so precious. CRO is one of those rare jobs that you only need to do once to feel the benefits for years to come.

Just remember to change one thing at a time, measure as you go, and stay laser-focused on making life easier for your buyers and you won’t go far wrong!

Thanks for reading!


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