Fast fashion specialists top the list of retailers that are getting it right on the digital front, according to digital research specialist L2. But while many are turning in an outstanding performance, lots of household names are at the bottom of the list and still falling short on digital best practice.
Topshop tops the list that covers fashion apparel, footwear, beauty, and homewares brands and is ranked as a digital ‘Genius’ on the back of its content focus.
L2 said its multiple content hubs and user generated content that’s both shoppable and sortable is driving traffic to the website. Activity around Beyoncé’s Ivy Park athleisure brand and the Kendall and Kylie Jenner collaboration had a major impact this year. It achieved over 67m impressions during a six-month period from desktop advertising strategies alone, drawing site traffic with creatives dedicated to those sub-brands.
The Digital IQ Index evaluates brands’ performance across the consumer journey (website and e-commerce, digital marketing, social media, and mobile) and classifies each brand as Genius, Gifted, Average, Challenged, or Feeble.
Rounding out the top 10 under the ‘Gifted’ label are Asos, Schuh, New Look, H&M, River Island, Next, Victoria’s Secret, Mango and Zara.
Asos is praised for its extensive page tagging and participation in third-party parcel services enabling click-and-collect despite it having no stores. The pureplay maintains long-term customer loyalty by providing the most flexible fulfilment options (free shipping on all orders over £20 and precise next day shipping for £5.95), prioritising customer acquisition over profit margins (37% of its total orders were returned in 2015).
Meanwhile Schuh has pioneering video chat for customer service and timing estimates for buy or reserve online; New Look’s email marketing features barcodes for in-store redemption and scheduled delivery options; H&M has a powerful and effective Instagram presence; River Island’s Snapchat focus draws social media users to the store; Next excels in cross-selling on product pages; Victoria’s Secret’s social media and promotions strategies keep it near the top of the list; Mango does omnichannel particularly well; and Zara is investing where it counts in boosting Facebook engagement and features like Apple Pay integration for its mobile app.
At the very bottom of the list with Feeble status are the revived BHS, intimates specialist Calzedonia and beauty brand Aesop, while Russell & Bromley, The Kooples, Wolford, Hackett, Cos, Primark and Barbour are just above them with Challenged status.
Primark is particularly surprising given the strength it has on Instagram, which L2 notes. But as always it falls short because it lacks a direct-to-consumer e-commerce option. Its digital activity elsewhere suggests that any introduction of e-commerce would propel it much higher very fast.
Meanwhile L2 said Russell & Bromley suffers from having two Instagram accounts that split its following and lack of investment in mobile ads and mobile search. And the Kooples loses out due to its “average” performance across social media and a lack of investment in web advertising.
L2 said that more than half of brands on its Index have adopted content integration tactics on brand sites by offering video (58%), style guides or lookbooks (54%), and blog and editorial content (53%). But only 13% give consumers a link to a product page, and only 3% have attached a quick-shop feature to their videos.
Despite changes to Instagram’s algorithm, brands continue to find enhanced engagement on the platform. It accounts for the lion’s share of social interactions, responsible for 96% of the total combined 277m interactions across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (in Q3 of 2016).
Other brands are focusing on augmenting their stores with additional touch points through third-party collection services like Collect+ and Hermes Parcel Shop, placing them in more direct competition with Amazon, which snapped up 25% of the UK’s internet retail market share and over 45% of the online pureplay market.
L2 also said mobile is key with m-commerce to account for 6% of total retail sales this year. It said brands can combat consumer apathy by providing effortless shoppability on mobile. “Brands wavering in their mobile commitment will lose out in the current retail landscape if they fail to adapt to consumers’ growing trust in, and adoption of, mobile commerce, mobile wallet technology, and contactless payment methods,” the report said.