Dressed for Success: How Apparel Brands Can Maximize Impact on Amazon

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Not long ago, many customers relied on catwalk reports and glossy magazines for fashion inspiration. However, as laptops and smartphones have gradually transformed shopper behavior, digital platforms have begun to play an increasingly important role in the apparel industry. Marketplace sites are now influential cornerstones in the fashion consumer’s journey: More than half of Internet users who bought clothing online in the last six months also made at least one purchase on Amazon.

On the flip side, apparel has become an increasingly important product group for online marketplaces. Over the past few years, Amazon has launched more than 100 private-label fashion brands and, according to forecasts, is on track to overtaking Walmart as the number one clothing retailer in the US. Several high-profile fashion brands (including Nike and Calvin Klein) have started selling their products on the platform. These types of prestigious partnerships have helped turn Amazon into a fashion powerhouse alongside established e-tailers like ASOS, Net-a-Porter, and Zulily.

Amazon As a Full-Funnel Marketing Vehicle

As shoppers increasingly turn to Amazon, not only to buy, but also to discover and research products, brands gain deeper insight into their customers’ behaviors and purchase decisions. Today’s fashion consumer has access to a near-infinite stream of information and inspiration, so the onus is on brands to use customer data to understand what users are buying as well as why they are interested in a product. We used to think of Amazon as an ecommerce marketplace, but the platform’s search function has turned it into an important vehicle for unlocking shopper intent. This knowledge can (and should) be used to optimize strategies further down the funnel as well as across other digital channels.

Amazon’s Sponsored Ads is particularly interesting for fashion brands that wish to increase visibility of their brands and product offerings. There are currently more than a million clothing-related listings on Amazon, so these ads help brands cut through the noise. As Amazon continues to strengthen its position as a premium fashion e-tailer, through strategic partnerships and solutions like Prime Wardrobe (a try-before-you-buy service), more customers are likely to warm up to the idea of purchasing clothing on the platform. And as they do, fashion brands need to make sure their content appears where it’s most visible to users.

Driving Apparel Sales With Amazon Sponsored Ads

An increasing number of fashion brands have already started realizing the opportunities presented by Amazon advertising. We recently helped an apparel retail advertiser drive cost-effective incremental orders through Amazon Sponsored Ads, running both on the platform and in non-Amazon placements.

Using a combination of first-party data (uploaded from the brand’s own CRM) and the platform’s native targeting capabilities, we were able to reach in-market shoppers who had expressed real interest in products similar to the advertiser’s. Amazon has access to billions of observed shopping and media consumption patterns across every stage of the funnel, and as a result, they know more about what customers want than most other platforms. We used this knowledge to make sure ads were served to the right users, at the right time, in order to maximize impact. Audiences that were unique to Amazon, such as those based on the platform’s own first-party data, performed the best – driving the highest order volumes.

An Always-On Approach to Amazon Advertising

Our main objective in working with the apparel advertiser was to drive incremental orders. But we also recommended taking an evergreen approach to advertising on Amazon. By running a combination of promotional and always-on content, and using multiple creative rotations to dictate flighting and pacing, we were able to successfully drive high-intent users down the funnel. And while promotional ads generated a higher number of transactions, the evergreen content still proved essential in driving return on investment.

Apparel sales continue to migrate online, and advertisers are wise to follow suit. As a highly visual industry driven by trends and community, fashion is well suited for digital marketing. The responsibility is now on brands to deliver relevant and purposeful experiences across the digital landscape. Amazon’s role in the fashion industry continues to grow, with US customers more likely to buy clothing on the platform than from other e-tailers. As traditional retail models continue to recede, we will likely see online marketplaces play an even more central role in the fashion industry going forward.