Missguided are a UK based women’s fashion e-tailer, currently operating within an online shopping environment which is itself enjoying a period of continuing growth. British consumers spent more money online than any other European country in 2011, topping £50billion (which is up 11% on the previous year). According to Forrester, around 28 million UK consumers shop online, and this figure is forecasted to reach 37 million by 2014. To be successful in the online environment, Missguided must strive to have a strong digital presence in this expanding sector.
Clearly defined target audience
Throughout Missguided’s website and accompanying social media platforms, it is clear that Missguided has a focus on a target audience who are interested in celebrity inspired fashion at high street prices within a young (16-30) female demographic.
The Celebrity inspired part of the target audience are engaged with through the ‘Shop by Celebrity Style’ filtering option, allowing shoppers to search for a particular celebrity whose style they like, and finding affordable versions through Missguided.
16-30 demographic = Choice of models/fashion styles and communication style on the website and social media pages.
And in regards to high street prices, sale items range from £3.99 – £54.99, and full price items range from £2.99 – £78.99.
Consistently and successfully focusing on a specific target audience will allow for trust to be built between the merchant and potential buyers. This would establish a relationship for the future, as buyers within Missguided’s demographic would naturally associate the company with on-trend, fashionable products that they would be interested in when they are looking for products in the future.
Strong social media identity
Missguided have, and are currently enjoying, a fast rate of growth, during a period of economic recession and within a heavily competitive industry. A key reason for this has been the successful use of social media, which has helped the company gain new online followers and to also ensure those followers are engaged enough to repeatedly return. Social Media has a vast potential market to tap into, and this is coupled with practically zero costs to advertise, as the company can directly engage with and advertise to followers, instead of paying for traditional print or television ads. According to a recent survey by Comscore, young females are also the fastest growing demographic in social media engagement.
Use of incentives to encourage new followers for social media pages has been repeatedly utilised by Missguided. One previous incentive was the issuing of a 10% discount at the checkout if a shopper followed the prompt to ‘like’ their Facebook page. Missguided are currently running a ‘Daily Win’ competition on their Facebook page, encouraging people to vote on their favourite item in exchange for being entered into a daily prize draw. A person must first like the page before being able to enter and if they are unsuccessful in the draw, they are then invited to enter again the next day, giving them a clear incentive to stay as a fan of the Missguided page, and to return to it repeatedly.
Obtaining followers is only part of social media’s use for an e-tailer. Retaining the audience is also important, as the followers could be advertised to in the future as well as working as a channel to gain more followers (for example if they were to share the page with their friends). The retention of audience is only possible if the content produced successfully engages the audience, giving them an incentive to stay as a follower of Missguided and to view the content they are showing. As well as having competitions open to all fans (whether they are new or not) Missguided also regularly updates across a variety of social media networks, with posts specific to the target audience they are trying to engage.
High Visibility of Negative Feedback
When viewing Missguided’s official Facebook and Twitter pages, it is clear to see a high proportion of negative posts (ranging from technical website difficulties to transaction errors). In regards to growth, such feedback would severely damage how a company could build trust with potential customers, especially in an online environment where the personal face-to-face interaction of retail is replaced with an online checkout.
As a company expands like Missguided, the sheer volume of sales would of course mean that negative feedback is bound to occur on some occasions, through unforeseen issues which can sometimes be unpreventable. At present, Missguided’s official Twitter feed, a key part of their social media marketing, is looking more like a customer query department, with most tweets replies to people asking about their product.
What can be ammended is put a limit on the high visibility of such negative feedback, whilst still dealing with customer queries privately (through Twitter/Facebook’s messaging system or via e-mail). Running a separate social media page purely for customer queries and complaints frees up the official pages to focus on posting positive tweets and engaging content, whilst limiting the visibility of negative feedback.
ASOS run a similar page called ‘Here to Help’. The Here to Help feed does not show direct interaction with customer complaints or queries, indicating that they are replying to customers privately, but they publicly retweet positive customer service reviews that the company has received. This not only allows their official, more popular Twitter page to focus on brand advertising, but also helps build a positive image of the company’s customer service, considering that their ‘Here to Help’ feed only shows positive interactions.
Negative SE Exposure
Google is by a substantial distance the most popular worldwide search engine, holding approximately an 89% share of the search engine market. Therefore, if potential customers are using Google to search for your company, it is of great importance that Missguided establish a positive identity on the search engine.
A Google search of ‘Missguided’ brings up a variety of results. This recent screenshot shows the official Missguided website, but also a completely unrelated television series and, more worryingly, a customer review site showing the company as having a one-star review. An issue obviously needing to be addressed internally, but in regards to exposure, this is damaging to the company for anyone searching for them.
This is in comparison to one of Missguided’s direct competitiors. A Google search of Boohoo brings up a list of results which are all direct links to different areas of the official Boohoo site, ensuring all front page Google results would bring traffic to their website.
Solution is to put a bigger emphasis on SEO, to make sure that search results for Missguided will bring up links directly to their site, improving traffic and at the same time avoiding negative exposure.
Offline events to encourage online traffic
Launch parties and other offline events could be utilised to help drive more people towards the brand. Similar to retail events (such as ‘Student Nights’), Missguided could provide a themed night in conjunction with a new season’s collection. Boohoo.com recently utilised this in Manchester, garnering media interest by including an appearance by Mark from The Only Way is Essex. Although the negative to this option is the fees incurred in organising such an event and ensuring a celebrity appearance, the exposure from the event and the free publicity within the media could prove to be positive in garnering extra sales and company exposure on a national scale.
Current trends indicate that Missguided are searched for most from Northern regions in the UK. Offline events like launch parties could be organised to take place in areas where regional interest is extremely high to capitalise on popularity. Another way to look at it would be to identify important regions where Missguided are currently not trending as much, and not having as many orders through from, and using regionally-targeted events to maybe gain more of a foothold in that area. For example, London is an incredibly important region for online shopping. According to a recent survey, London’s online fashion spend is growing, with an 11% increase on last year. The survey goes on to reveal that 30% of all London consumers have made an online fashion purchase in the first half of 2012. This indicates that there is a growing interest in online fashion within this region, and it should be considered as an area to work on gaining exposure in.
Utilising smaller boutiques/labels within Missguided
The way this opportunity would work is to have a separate section dealing with smaller boutiques and independent sellers, who would be able to sell their products through the Missguided site and pay a commission for any sales made.. This opportunity is likely to gain consistent interest because smaller boutiques will want their labels to get noticed, and individuals who want to sell items will have the chance to do so on a platform where the audience is specifically fashion-based (rather than listing on general seller sites such as eBay). This method could also have the secondary benefit of allowing Missguided to track potentially successful re-emerging trends based on their popularity in the marketplace.
This separate section would give sellers full responsibility for all aspects of their advert (including photography), lessening the time-investment needed from Missguided themselves. This performance-based model is also low in risk. If the boutique or seller is popular, Missgided would gain a higher total commission fee. If they’re not popular then it is the boutique themselves which would fall in popularity, allowing for the next seller to rise.
Asos have ‘marketplace’, which allows smaller boutiques or individuals to sell and showcase their little known brands through the website, or selling second-hand ‘vintage’ items. Last year, they posted figures which indicated a 690% rise in sales through their marketplace, which is obviously attributed to the fact that if more people are aware of the site, then ASOS would gradually gain a higher fee from the increasing volume of sales.
The key to this opportunity would be to ensure enough buyers were using the service, so that independent sellers and boutiques would be interested in repeatedly selling on it because of how popular it is. As this particular model is being utilised by competitive e-tailers, it is imperative to insure that enough buyers would use this service to encourage boutiques to invest in selling on there, and not on rival sites.
This model then could be implemented when Missguided has substantially grown its brand, and in partnership with social media advertisement and potentially a trial period to gauge interest.
E-tailers have the unavoidable issue of customers not being able to try on clothes for themselves whilst browsing on the company’s website, in comparison with a traditional retail shop. To counter this problem, e-tailers must try to incorporate ways to inform potential customers as much as possible of what exactly the item they are interested in is like. A function present extensively on ASOS is the ‘video catwalk’, which works as an addition to the traditional model pictures. This allows the viewer a better insight into how the product will look, giving more reassurance to online customers who are unable to physically try on the item for themselves.
This leads on to the potential opportunity of utilising more advanced technology, such as augmented reality, which could allow shoppers to digitally ‘wear’ the item on screen, giving them a preview of how it will look on despite not having a physical version of it. This technology has already been utilised with Skullcandy’s ‘Virtual Room’, which allowed browsers the ability to try on the Aviator headphones digitally.
As well as providing users the chance to get as close of an idea of what they’d look like wearing the headphones without having to physically go and try them on, the quirky application also gave Skullcandy a sharp rise in sales of its Aviator headphones, owing to its high shareability as a ‘fun’ application, alongside its primary function as a previewing tool.
Potentially could be used in fashion e-tail, with users only needing a webcam to create a digital preview, providing Missguided had the software in place on their website. Even if the use is only moderately successful, its utilisation would surely gain the site more exposure for its distinctive take on the issue of how to judge whether you want to buy an item you cannot physically try out yourself.
Social Media Expansion
The use of social media for fashion outlets has vast potential. This can be seen when looking at the engagement figures for some of the more established companies such as H&M, Topshop, ASOS and New Look. What must be recognised is that consumers are not exclusive to one shop, and could be fans of many different outlets. The popularity of an competitior’s social media site is not a sign of lost custom, but an indication of the potential market that can also be tapped into. If they are fans of one, they could be fans of Missguided too. With Missguided being voted the 12th best loved digital brand by analytical company ‘Tamar’, and also the fastest growing out of the top 25, the potential is very much there for the millions of online fashion fans to be tapped into in the upcoming future, if Missguided continue their focus on social media engagement.
Further Expansion of Affiliate Marketing
Missguided could expand its current Affiliate Marketing program to capitalise on it’s low risk model in return for the potential increase in sales. The pay-for-performance model of affiliate marketing means that Missguided would only need to pay a set percentage fee (currently at 6%) for any sales generated from the advertiser’s site.
With online fashion, the potential for affiliates is very strong, considering the industry’s popularity online and the large number of independent fashion bloggers. Missguided could put a larger focus on utilising this potential resource of extra sales by advertising on their social media channels for new bloggers to join their affiliate program, and post ‘looks’ within their personal posts (building an outfit from a number of Missguided products). The strength of using ‘looks’ and entire outfits by affiliates is that in just one image of an outfit made up of a combination of Missguided products, a blogger can present a number of affiliate links (one for the top, one for the shorts, one for the necklace etc)
Affiliate-only competitions could be run , which could offer affiliates the chance to win a prize if they hit a particular sales target. The cost of the prize (for example a Missguided voucher or a particular outfit) could be negated by the potential for a spike in sales, with affiliates pushing to make sure they achieve the highest sales for the week (and thus bringing in more revenue for Missguided)
Selling exclusively through the internet can be a double-edged sword – of course, internet selling opens up the site to a potentially worldwide customer database (considering shoppers can order from anywhere in the world and have it shipped instead of having to physically be present in a retail shop) but it also means that the number of possible competitors is extremely higher (as they could spring up from any country and still take local custom).
Established retailers putting more emphasis on their e-commerce
Established retailers such as H+M have begun to heavily invest in their e-commerce, owing to its growth over the past few years. This is a major threat to purely e-tail sites such as Missguided, as established retailers have already gained substantial brand exposure and a high market share.
Consumer Ability to shift to a substitute product
Missguided’s target demographic is one which is shared (or at least incorporated to some degree) by a number of competitors. Boohoo have their own ‘Get the Look’ section, offering browsers the ability to view celeb styles and Boohoo’s counterparts. With countless number of celebrities, and with numerous media shots emerging daily of different outfits they are wearing, it is impossible for a fashion e-tailer website to keep up with all of them, and must carefully select the styles they want to re-create. A customer may have more interest in a celebrity that a competitor is featuring in their collection, and could decide to use their site instead.