As Love Island star Molly-Mae Hague becomes the new face of online retailer Pretty Little Thing, we take a look at how e-commerce has helped the rise of fast fashion brands that are crippling high street stores.

Over the last year, e-commerce fashion brands such as Pretty Little Thing, ASOS, I Saw It First, Nasty Gal, Boohoo and Missguided have all hit High Street giants like House of Fraser, Debenhams, H&M, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and TopShop with such force that they are forcing store closures. But how are they doing it? We are currently living in an online fashion boom, and not even New Look, Zara or H&M are safe.

Understanding their market
E-commerce retailers understand the exact demographic they are retailing to. Rather than catering to every type of customer with clothing to suit all age ranges, they take an exact age market and stick to it. This means that potential customers within this age range are more likely to remain loyal to the brand. Many e-commerce brands aim themselves at Millennials and Gen Z, as younger customers are also more reactive to messages of body positivity in terms of models used. Brands such as ASOS embrace this through use of normal and plus-sized models, while using images that have not been retouched, all complete with stretch marks, scars or cellulite. This in turn makes the models wearing their clothes more relatable to the consumer, boosting chances of sales.
The power of social media
It isn’t just about having a likeable product and understanding your audience. E-commerce fashion retailers also understand how social media can be a strong platform for their brand. Many social media strategies within online fashion retailers are solely consumer-focused, and such retailers seek to have a loyal and interactive following on sites like Instagram and Facebook. Social media influencers are also these brands’ best friends, and can boost sales overnight with a strong enough post that ends up trending or going viral. Online fashion retailers also exploit ways in which the social media channels of their brand can be connected to other aspects of popular culture that appeal to its market audience. I Saw It First for example sponsored ITV’s Love Island and provided some of the contestants’ wardrobe in Summer 2019. Such moves are subtle yet highly effective marketing strategies by retailers, purely implemented to grow a brand’s loyal following.

A faster, more convenient retail experience
E-commerce fashion retailers also make it as easy as possible for the online shopper to spend money on their clothes and keep them. A shopper can see exactly what they are getting through examination of clear photos and a review of an item’s short, snappy description before purchasing it on any portable device such as a mobile or tablet. They can also take advantage of trying purchased clothes on at home before changing their mind, with lengthy return policies, free returns and useful sizing tools offered by brands so that exact sizing can be determined before purchase (making it less likely that the customer will return the clothes in the first place). Shoppers can also create simple ‘wishlists’, so that they can return to previous items of interest more quickly and easily. This all makes for a more convenient shopping experience, which, in today’s fast-paced world, fits in with many customers’ lifestyles.