My Favorite Online Retail Marketing Ploys

Tis the season! I’ve been bitten by the shopping bug and as a result been driven to participate in shopping even more than normal. Since it is my last semester in school and I’m vigorously working on all of my assignments I haven’t had much time to hit the mall. Enter online shopping. Normally I’m not a huge fan of shopping online. Not only do you have to deal with shipping costs, lost items, or being disappointed in the item you purchased but it takes away the in-store experience. I suppose it is the whole thought of not being able to use my senses of touch, sight, smell, etc. when choosing my clothes. With all of this online shopping I’ve been signed up for numerous email lists. Normally I delete emails on the spot if the subject line bores me but there has been an increase in my click through rate with these new marketing ploys.

Online retailers are utilizing contests and giveaways to let their fans do their social media marketing for them! While many companies are partaking in this I’m going to focus my attention to one site in particular, A few weeks ago I was on a popular fashion blog (IHATEBLONDE) and noticed that in her latest post there was a link to MissKL. The blogger posted her favorite looks from the website which are up for grabs as a giveaway! All you need to do is enter your name and email address to be placed in the drawing. The catch? Being added to their email list. Not too bad. The second contest they are holding is for a trip for 2 to Paris France along with a $500 MissKL shopping spree. While I consider the best part of this marketing effort the trip to Paris my business side of my brain was tickled by the method used to enter. It’s simple really, sign into your Pinterest account, create a board entitled “Springtime in Paris: Miss KL Style” and start pinning your favorite MissKL items that inspire you and will tell your Paris story. Not only is this a great way for people to get involved on your website but products that are pinned by contestants are now seen by their followers who can re-pin and be displayed for their followers… the story goes on. Ultimately the great part about Pinterest is that with every top, dress, or accessory you post you are providing a direct link back to your website. For those influential pinners out there your product can be seen by their thousand or so followers!

It’s all about engagement, if your customers are getting excited about your product offerings they will pass it on to their friends, followers, or fans. This makes marketers jobs a lot easier, all they must do is keep the influential consumers interested and engaged. I’d like to think that when I start my own online retailer or clothing company this would be a big way to spread word of mouth. Leave it to social media people, it’s not that hard if you have the right creative mind.

Wanelo – New Social Media Fashion Site

Wanelo-LogoI was recently introduced to a new website called Wanelo. My constant pursuits of new inspiration for fashion has led me to websites like Lookbook and Pinterest but many times the items displayed are not given a link on where to purchase. Wanelo provides the same social media format as Pinterest but narrows down the content to clothing and accessories. As a member you can sign up, login, and post content. When opening a post you are able to “save”, “buy” or “tag” the item in question. What I like most about this website is its simplicity. The website layout is clean and easy to maneuver. Picture 13The products displayed can range from big name retailers or small Etsy websites. Either way it is an easy way to to filter through tons of styles and pick out your favorites. The ease of keyword searching can produce items for any type of style. My biggest concern and hesitation when first visiting the site was the homepage. It included a lot of “girly” items and threw me off with the lack of variety it gave me. The homepage is what sets a websites culture and to me, it wasn’t edgy enough. After searching particular keywords I was able to snatch up some pieces and become introduced to new online retailers. The price points for me are one of the biggest plusses. There is a wide range of pricing since a lot of the websites linked to items come from Ebay or Etsy which usually has a lower price point. Since I already maintain a large amount of accounts on social media sites I haven’t signed up for Wanelo but I have a feeling that I will be frequenting the website more and more to get new style inspiration. Cheers to that!

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show – Utilizing Social Media

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Today’s the day, the one men around the world have been waiting for, the one fashion show that they are willing to watch. Why you might ask? Well it’s the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show for cripes sake! Advertising has been running for the past few months in anticipation for the new Victoria’s Secret line that in the past has included multimillion dollar bras in exhibition. Television is one of the most prominent ways of marketing with the ability to show the models strutting their stuff, social media has given individuals the chance to directly be part of the action!

An online application has been created for android and iPhone devices that allows you to turn yourself into an Angel. Wings are added every week and with a quick snapshot of yourself, you can turn yourself into a Victoria’s Secret Angel, or at least a close runner up. A few months ago I also came across a Facebook page dedicated to the retailers new women’s workout clothing line. Marketers notice that with men and women lusting over the Angels tight cores, there could be a great way to not only market the new clothing line but also highlight the upcoming fashion show. VSX sport Facebook page created a “Train Like an Angel” application that provides videos on the type of workouts models use to get runway ready. Eight workout challenges were posted all leading up to the big fashion show. Not only was this an extraordinary way to advertise but it got customers involved in the action! Not to mention the workouts are easy to do, require minimal equipment, and gives VSX exposure.

This is one of the more fun ways to get involved in social media, I’ll admit that I gave a couple of the workouts a try and it is worth hitting the like button to have workout videos at your fingertips.

LOOKBOOK.NU – Free Marketing for Retailers has shaken up the online world and created celebrities overnight. For those of you who don’t know the site, it was created by a college student in San Francisco who hoped to create a website where people could share their sense of fashion. The site changed from invitation-only to full availability for all, with hopes that a more diverse market would envelop the site. The greatest part of this site is the ability to list where you purchased each item of clothing you are wearing. This includes, socks, shoes, hats, sunglasses etc. It is a great way to find new places to shop and is a cheap and almost free way for retailers to market their products.

While there are tons of members of this online community it isn’t easy for all retailers to get their products seen. There are key members of the Lookbook community who have a big prominence and influence to website viewers. Some of these include Lua P and Jennifer G who are well known members of this online community. With posts receiving a couple thousand likes it is clear that websites like Romwe, Nastygal, and UNIF have benefited from their clothes being worn by some of these influential users. While clothing companies can get lucky having these girls and guys wearing their clothing by sheer luck, there is an easier method. Send them free clothes! For well known bloggers and Lookbook users, retailers have begun sending large packages of clothing items hoping that they will appear online and influence new users to shop at their stores. Some of these include PacSun, a recent post on Instagram from a well known fashion blogger “Real Vintage Virgin” displayed an entire crate of clothes being sent to her home! The next day, she had posted an outfit styled entirely from PacSun, also sending out a mention to the company and providing a link to their Instagram and webpage.

In my opinion, this is a great way for retailers to market their products. These fashion bloggers and members of the Lookbook community have a huge influence on online shoppers. As a retailer it wouldn’t hurt you to send promotional items to these online influencers. It is much more likely that they will wear your clothing versus working alongside a celebrity who would request additional incentives. It’s becoming easier through social media to market for clothing companies. How do I know? Well, they suckered me in, Lookbook is one of the websites I visit when looking for new and interesting clothing options. Taking the time and creative energy to post and edit these photographs and market your style deserves these perks. Free clothes for free marketing? Not to bad of a deal.

Black Friday: Helping or hurting retailers?

After finishing our turkey dinners for Thanksgiving, boys, girls, moms, dads, grandparents and even some pets braved the cold winter evening to line up for Black Friday sales. Most retailers opened their doors between 8pm and 12am on Thursday evening and Friday morning. A few days prior when preparing for what stores we should hit first, a discussion arose about the worth of getting up early or staying up all night shopping for the “greatest holiday deals”. Does the concept of Black Friday help or hurt retailers?

Marketing Black Friday and Cyber Monday as the best deals of all time might be a heavy exaggeration. There are plenty of other times within the year, coupon combinations, or other ways to manipulate retailers to get a good deal on products. The companies that reap the benefits of Black Friday are larger retailers. They can provide significant markdowns on their items after years of Black Friday experience it is apparent what signage verbiage and colors attract the most consumers. This day isn’t planned on short notice, companies prepare and analyze what items they can afford to discount, what amounts they can give, and what kind of crowds they will see year after year. Not only this, they are able to clear out unpopular or out of season items by reeling in customers with bright red “CLEARANCE” signs along with display new seasonal items for the holiday season.

It is obvious that consumers will hit large retailers like Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Kohls for early bird specials on electronics, home, and clothing items but what about the smaller retailers? Having worked at a small Southern California based women’s clothing retailer I was appalled at the minimal sale we were offering as our first Black Friday special. Not only did we have to remain open all night long, we only offered discounts on our already unpopular sale items. This hardly caught the attention of mall goers when we opened at 12am. Small retailers aren’t able to provide 40, 50 or 75% off all items in store, not only is this unrealistic but in the end it would cost the company money. It was after I realized that my store couldn’t be compared against stores like Macy’s or H&M that I started to think of positive ways that small retailers could actually benefit from Black Friday.

  • Black Friday brings the consumers. (With enticing signage and properly merchandised window displays, you can attract an entirely new audience.)

  • Use of appropriate discount offers. (This not only gets customers excited about the current purchase but also incentivizes them to come back again.)
    • Spend ____ amount and get a coupon for _____ percent off your next visit in December

    • Spend ____ amount and get ____ dollars off your next visit in December
    • _____ percent coupon for any purchase made today to redeem in December.
    • Scratch card for a percentage off your next visit with any purchase made today.
    • Creates new relationships. (Having a good experience during the hectic Black Friday shopping can bring customers back into your store.)

    While small retailers might feel forced into providing Black Friday deals it is in the stores best interest to instead look at this as a marketing opportunity. Knowing how to select markdowns to reduce unwanted stock along with creating an incentive to visit the store again can bring in new consumers instead of marking down the entire store and losing money. The competition with Cyber Monday is giving retailers an entirely new way of approaching Black Friday. For those who have websites and brick and mortar stores this means incentives to customers on both ends to choose their stores as well as their website. All I can say is you better bring the value, and that doesn’t mean marking down old sweaters.

Social Media Marketing on Etsy


I have recently been back on an Etsy kick, for those of you who don’t know what Etsy is here is a quick overview. This website allows users to sign up and sell products online in a small business environment all via the Internet. The website is best known for its unique shops that include vintage and hand made items not found elsewhere. The entire process seems very hush hush, I only came across the website after hearing friends speaking about it.

The best part is that a lot of the items are sold at decent prices and the unique pieces are worth a peak. You never know when the next Marc Jacobs could be hand sewing you a dress behind that computer screen. In comparison to Ebay where you can buy and sell items along with holding auctions, Etsy is set up more as an online store per each user. After browsing through the various categories once you select an item you can click on the user to view their whole shop. Each homepage can be customized with a shop banner and description of the shop (vintage, handmade jewelry, or hand sewn swimwear). While customers can stumble upon your shop when entering in a search or browsing the categories how does a shop become successful and drive traffic?

The answer is pretty obvious right? Social media! It’s not very often you find online banners promoting Etsy websites. The key to success is utilizing word of mouth advertising and social media. Google analytics is also a great resource to promote web traffic. The site is as close as you can get to hosting your own online retail store but made simple and easy. Facebook can help “share” your message with friends, family or even acquaintances. The greatest part is seeing your store “liked” on multiple news feeds. Instagram could be a great resource for promotion of clothing and accessory products as well. Getting friends, family, and influencers to post pictures wearing your product along with appropriate hash tags and mentions could put your store to the top! Giveaways and sending product to popular Instagram fashion users could give them an incentive to promote your product. Just make sure their style matches what you are offering!

While I do not have the time nor the skill to create some of the wide offerings Etsy has, I am fully supportive of up and coming designers. If you play your cards right online your shop can become a hit.

Geek Branding: NO GIRLS ALLOWED!

With all of the previous months tweets about New York Comic Con I couldn’t help but reminisce on my visit to the San Diego Comic Convention this past July. While I am straying off my typical fashion related marketing posts I do have a bit to discuss on the perception of women (seemingly feminist I know) and how they are being used to market to all the “geeks” of the world. Over this past summer my sister and I decided to Cosplay (dress up) as our favorite comic book characters. While we both have the nerd gene swimming inside us it isn’t uncommon to find girls within these conventions who are in it for the GLORY of having men of all kinds drooling over their skimpily dressed bodies.

Booth Babes, some of you have seen them flaunting their goodies at car shows passing out flyers but more recently they have taken over the nerd scene. Booths at these conventions like Comic Con or Wonder Con help promote things like television shows, magazines, or video games with good looking girls dressed in questionable “costumes” as seen in said shows or games. While some girls are just in it for the attention there ARE girls out there who are genuinely interested in the content these conventions withhold and what is it to stop them from expressing their fandom through cosplaying? One writer for a CNN blog thought otherwise, generalizing ALL girls who dress up to be attention seeking fakes.

While women have always been a step behind men in all aspects of life including careers, respect, and strength I never would have thought in 2012 women would still be considered inadequate in what used to be close to an all male geeky world. Advertisements, television, and print are still portraying women as submissive and unintelligent. With the introduction of the heroine it would seem that women would be more empowered than ever to be strong risk takers. With articles like this coming out it unfortunately just emphasizes the feelings that males have towards females in the comic industry. Even worse, me and my sisters photograph is associated directly with the article. Talk about misinterpretation.

While this marketing tactic of “booth babes” seems to be successful in pulling in a male demographic of customers women are ridiculed for it. So, the argument remains, should the comic industry continue branding a “No Girls Allowed” mentality? The changing demographic of “geeks” now includes women and unfortunately this method of branding will not envelop this new untapped market. Taking all of these marketing courses reminds me that sometimes marketers can forget when a new target market jumps into the scene. The world is always changing and industries need to adjust.

Feel free to check out the original blog post below:
Booth babes need not apply

Perception of Retailers

If I were to ask you where I could find cheap and trendy women’s clothing what are some of the stores you would think of? Most likely Forever 21, Windsor, H&M, and Foreign Exchange (for those so-cal residents) come to mind. The introduction of Forever 21 completely changed the direction of retailers. This new idea of providing trendy clothing at low prices enticed many women to move from jeans and t-shirts to dresses and blazers. These companies are successful in quickly producing the latest trends and constantly offering new products. This environment of low priced products with a limited life span creates a “buy now” attitude for consumers, what’s $20 dollars anyway? These new retailers are competing and crushing companies like Billabong and Rock and Republic who were flying high selling their products in a once stable economy and now struggling to reestablish their markets.

What I always wonder is what are these retailers portraying to consumers through their products? Well known name brands like Vera Wang and Calvin Klein may provide discounted clothing, like Vera Wang’s Kohls collection,but under a brand name that screams “high quality”. Is it the actual brand name that provides the perception of quality or is it the store at which it is sold? My prior image of Kohls was an unfashionable discount retailer but that concept is changing with the increasing number of well known names they have attached to their store. These include Lauren Conrad, Vera Wang, Candies, Nike, DC and Vans. When looking to stores like Forever 21 and H&M their brand has positioned themselves as a low price retailer that would seemingly have lower margins. But is the perception of their products good considering all their products are tied to their retail name? Do consumers look at a $5 blouse and think they are getting a good deal for a quality product or seeing a cheaply made product that will probably be ruined after its first wash.

Most people see low prices as lower quality, and an entire store that prides itself on the low cost of goods can usually only provide this perception. So far it hasn’t weakened their image considering Forever 21 earned 2.6 billion in 2011. I suspect most of this income comes from young, fashionable, low-income individuals looking for what is trendy in the here and now. The epitome of American thought, only thinking about the present and not much in the long run. But is this such a bad way to be seen? At this point I think most people just prefer low prices over ANYTHING, even if it comes with frugal return policies and cheaply made products. Companies like Vans and Nike take advantage of this newfound industry of price sensitive buyers. Offering lower priced products within stores like Kohls give them the ability to reach a whole new market but with the perception that the quality is good since it is a “name brand”. In the fashion world we all have our key pieces that we will splurge on and to look fashionable on a budget you have to make some sacrifices right?

Retail Marketing Method: Don’t forget your student ID!

On one of my usual shopping expeditions a few days ago I entered into a store called Charlotte Russe to look for some garments for a halloween costume. To my avail they didn’t have what I was looking for, but something else occurred while I was there. An employee bounced up to me and informed me that if I had my student ID present with me I would get 10% off my purchase. If I didn’t happen to have my ID on me that was no problem either, if I had a smart phone I could get the coupon sent to me via text for the same amount. Wow, talk about tailoring to the student.

For clothing retailers this is a somewhat new marketing tactic. Retailers like Apple and Amazon have already had discounts for students since a lot of their products are useful to the typical “freshman”. (Laptops, Televisions, DVD players, electronics, etc.) Stores like Topshop have begun this tactic of student discounts both in-store and online while Urban Outfitters will provide the discount on select dates. Looks to me like student ID’s should be in wallets at ALL TIMES. This is the question that then comes to mind, why would retailers begin to take on this type of marketing?

To me, the reach that students have is TREMENDOUS. Just consider your own high school and/or college you have/are attending. Trends are easily found and created in schools. Being in close contact with your classmates 5 out of 7 days in the week can create a big influence on students. What better way to promote your clothing than to have students wearing it for some 4,000 kids to see. (Basing off of my high school student population) Not only do students have reach in person, but also online. It is almost a requirement for students to be active on social media whether it be a blog, Facebook, or Twitter. Lookbook has become a power house for retailers as free marketing and publicity. For the more popular Lookbook accounts and fashion bloggers it is common to see designers and retailers sending out clothes in hopes of them being photographed and seen by the huge amount of Lookbook users. These users not only hold immense power within the states but the demographics of users stretches over countless countries. Hey, these clothes could even go international!

I say this is a great incentive to bring in more traffic and purchases into retailers. Stereotyping college and high school students as with limited income as well as a craving desire to fit in with the trends you have a recipe for success. Remember kids, don’t leave your student ID’s at home, who knows when you can get some additional money off of those new boots you are drooling over for this fall season.

Successful Celebrity Branding: Who Deserves a Fashion Line?

Celebrities have branded themselves as actors/actresses, philanthropists, musicians, and authors. Many of them are successful in one or two of those items listed, many actors/actresses can dabble in music or end up writing a book. Their vast experiences, networks and reach allow them to easily gain attention once they decide to dive into a new field of work. Just look at Justin Timberlake, in my opinion not only was his group and solo music careers successful but he has made a name for himself as an actor as well. More recently he has jumped into the fashion industry with one of his good friends which earned them about 50 million a year in sales! While we all have our hesitations when a celebrity changes direction many times it can be a good thing. One industry I have been struggling in to accept however is celebrities who begin fashion lines.

There are so many creative individuals in the world (I know more than a few) who given the opportunity could deliver amazing looks and trends into the world. Unfortunately, sometimes it is all about who you know and really pushing yourself into what looks like a bottomless pit of little hope. There are many celebrities who have branded themselves as designers and made a huge impact from it. Take for example, the Olson twins. Their realization that fashion was what they intended to focus on drove them to enroll in college as well as completely leave acting behind, putting their efforts into their new passion. Leaving behind the bitterness of knowing their childhood acting careers made them billionaires consumers can still see the success of their three fashion lines. Olsonboye for kids, Elizabeth and James for mid-market as well The Row which is a high end line. Another great example is Lauren Conrad. Using her past experiences she wrote a successful novel (Not to say that it was a masterpiece) and began a reasonably priced clothing line through Kohl’s retailers as well as a more high end fashion line called Paper Crown.

There are plenty of other names that could come to mind when thinking of popular designers for example; Gwen Stefani, Nicole Richie, and Jessica Simpson. They have branded themselves as serious designers who have taken grasp of their target market and produced products that identify themselves along with their market. Often times it is celebrities that pave the road in creating fashion trends so why not be able to pass that on through their products to consumers? Just because you have the ability to reach people doesn’t always mean you should move forward in creating a fashion line. Let’s take a look at the Kardashian sisters. With their mother’s attraction to any new business opportunity, it wasn’t long before she scooped up the opportunity to bring sears back on its feet through a Kardashian “Klothing” line. Unfortunately, Sears hasn’t even begun to see improvements in sales from this venture. Many products had to be removed based on copyright infringement and consumers were unable to connect with the products since they seemed so far fetched from what the Kardashians would actually put on their own bodies. People need to believe that these clothing items are made for their best interest, to make THEM beautiful and to have their favorite celebrities backing their product 100%. This line seems as unbelievable as their reality television series.

When celebrities take on the role of a designer they need to keep some things in mind:

1. Create a line that is believable: that is, you can connect the goal of the line with who made it.
2. Focus on one market: is your line low, mid or high end? Is it a complete line with both clothing and accessories? Does it all flow together with the same target market?
3. Have the passion: people can see when your line is quickly done and made just because you can. Don’t let money and reach guide you, let your passion.
4. Know your stuff: if you aren’t aware of what people will be buying you shouldn’t go this path alone. Many celebrities partner with retailers or other designers to create unique fashion lines with lessened risk. Having someone who already knows the industry to help guide you can be a good start to branding yourself as a successful designer.

Sources: 10 Most Successful Celebrity Fashion Lines