It’s no secret that eCommerce has become a dominant force in the fashion industry. By shopping online, you not only get the convenience of orders shipped directly to your doorstep, but you also have access to a wider selection, online exclusives, and often better prices compared to brick-and-mortar stores.
However, if you’re a veteran online shopper, you’ll know that there is a wide spectrum of quality and user experience across various websites. While online shopping has come a long way in just a few short years, you still need to have high standards when picking a site to buy women's clothing, jewelry, vintage clothing, and accessories from.
Today, we’re walking you through some of the key features that an online clothing store should have in 2021. Before you punch in that credit card info on your next purchase of high-quality clothes — be it a casual outfit, a cute pair of high-end heels, a dress from your favorite indie designer in the UK, or the perfect pair of maternity jeans — be sure you reference this list and check all the boxes! Let’s begin.
Every time we log onto a website, we’re witnessing an incredible technological feat. So many things must go right in order to see that page appear on your PC, phone, or tablet, which means many things can also go wrong!
Here are some key tech features you should look for when browsing for the perfect online boutique.
Speed and Security
As a busy online shopper, you’ve got no time to waste! If you’re waiting several seconds every time a new webpage loads on your browser, you’ll find that those wait times add up, ruin the experience, and can even make you miss out on the best deals.
Speed is a key feature for any website, especially when you’re shopping online – we all like to get in the zone and breeze through multiple items in a matter of minutes.
Then there’s the issue of security. If you (or someone you know) have been on the wrong side of identity theft before, you’ll know just how devastating it can be.
These events are far less common with the modern web, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook security features before shopping with any clothing company online.
Pro tip: look for affirmations that your credit card info and addresses will be protected with advanced security features so that you don’t have to stress about a worst-case scenario.
Ever been to an online retailer's website that is more confusing to navigate than an ancient map to El Dorado? We’ve all seen sites that simply don’t have a user-friendly design, and this can totally turn an impressively wide selection of outerwear, footwear, skincare, makeup, or beauty products into an overwhelming task for shoppers.
The best online clothing stores have a clear, navigable menu at the top of the site or a sidebar that will take you exactly where you need to go in the blink of an eye, be it to the new pieces, the most trendy fashion of the moment, or go-to wardrobe staples.
You shouldn’t have to click around aimlessly or do any guesswork about where a link might take you. When a site is well-designed, you won’t even think twice about the navigation experience at all – it’s totally intuitive, just like walking around a real clothing store and browsing the racks for designer labels.
Online stores might not accept cash, but they should offer a wide array of payment options so that you don’t have to go open new bank accounts or deal with annoying processing fees when many shoppers' top priority is finding high-quality pieces for affordable prices.
The best online shopping sites will accept every major credit card, link to payment apps and digital wallets, and do everything possible to minimize busywork on your end.
Some modern stores even offer shoppers the ability to buy their denim, home decor, kids' clothing items, and more across multiple, smaller payments, allowing you to enjoy the latest trends without putting an immediate dent in your account. Just be sure to read the fine print with these deals and watch out for steep interest rates, or your inexpensive clothing could have a much higher price tag than expected!
An Authentic Shopping Experience
We touched on navigation briefly, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to the overall user experience of online shopping.
Here are some other elements that create an authentic shopping experience from the comfort of your favorite device.
Comprehensive Search Function
When conducting a search online, it’s always a bit of a toss-up. You usually have to navigate several different pages and alter your search terms before you get your desired outcome, and even then, there are no guarantees of finding the vintage pieces, luxury brands, or graphic tees you're hoping for.
That’s why we love online clothing stores that feature advanced search functionality, allowing you to narrow down your search with a magnifying glass to get exactly what you seek.
For example, if you’re searching for a nice new pair of yoga leggings, you’ll want to be able to search by size, fit, fabric, colors, patterns, and so much more.
Rather than browsing endless pages of content before you find the perfect leggings, you get those results much faster and with far less effort.
Detailed Descriptions and Pictures
Once you finally find the product you like (hopefully it doesn’t take too long), you’ll want to learn everything you can about it before you add it to your cart.
We’re not just talking about the standard specifications like fabrics, sizes, and colors – that’s the absolute minimum. Product descriptions should dive way deeper than that, giving you a detailed account of how the clothes fit, how high-quality they are, what makes them unique, and what to really expect when it shows up to your door.
On top of useful descriptions, you’ll want polished, professional pictures to let you know what the product looks like, up-close and personal.
Just photos of t-shirts against a blank white background aren’t going to cut it in 2021. You want to see the clothes modeled, how the items look from every angle, and how they fit on a real human body. Since you can’t try it on for yourself, this is the next best thing.
Of course, there should be plenty of real customer reviews available to read, giving you the inside scoop on how the clothes look, feel, and function.
Even if the site seems like the perfect place to find the range of clothing you're looking for, if there are no reviews to be found, that’s a major red flag!
Personalized Recommendations and Guidance
If you like the look of a website at first glance, we always recommend making a free account so that your preferences are saved to the webpage via cookies.
That way, the site will track your browsing behavior, take note of the items you like, and even give you access to useful features like bookmarks, wish lists, and tailored recommendations.
Just as you would compare two tank tops side-by-side in a New York department store, you can do the same in certain online stores: the price points, quality, and details should be easy to differentiate. This will help you make the perfect pick every time, rather than having to go through the tedious process of exchanging or returning.
Also, you never know when you might receive an email from your favorite store giving you a personalized suggestion or announcing a new item that fits your tastes perfectly. There might even be a discount in the mix, so stay alert.
Top-Tier Customer Service
Don’t think we’d forget about customer service when talking about online shopping. This is the make-or-break feature that you want from your ecommerce stores of all kinds, but especially in the clothing department. Here are some key criteria.
Frequently Asked Questions and Explanations
Some of the best customer service strategies are the ones that anticipate the needs of the shopper and give you answers to any question you might have.
An FAQ page should clarify every aspect of the shopping process that might be confusing or unclear at first. This is important for any online clothing store, but even more so with a clothing subscription service that has more moving parts and variables at play.
Attentive Support Via Email or Chat
Whether you’re considering a purchase, waiting for your order, or need to follow up with the company for any reason, it should be exceedingly easy to get in touch with a customer service representative online.
Some sites have embedded chat systems that solve problems on the fly, while others ask you to send an email describing your situation.
However it works, it better be fast and help you get to the bottom of the issue in less than 24 hours.
Shipping, Returns, and Exchanges
Even the most reputable, high-end clothing stores have to deal with returns. The question is, how do they handle these processes, and do they make it easy for you as the customer?
We know that returns and exchanges are never fun, but they also shouldn’t have to be a headache in 2021. Read up about these policies, make sure you’re protected, and that you know exactly what to do if you receive an incorrect shipment or the item just isn’t what you expected.
From boots and handbags to trendy activewear clothing, returns should be simple and carefree.
Online shopping is only improving our modern lifestyle with each year, and you’ve got more options than ever before! Stick to the brands with top-tier websites and features for a flawless online shopping experience every time.