London Fashion Week: Top tips to perfect your visual merchandising strategy

London Fashion Week (LFW) is back for another season, and for eCommerce fashion retailers, it’s a pretty hectic time. Much like the busy peak trading period of Christmas, eCommerce teams spend months preparing for the event given that it contributes so much to the fashion retail landscape, both in terms of future trends, creative inspiration and revenue. Last year alone, the British Fashion Council reported that LFW now generates over £32 billion each year for the UK economy, a figure that continues to grow year on year.

Given the high stakes, it can really pay dividends for fashion brands to execute a carefully planned visual merchandising and eCommerce strategy to take advantage of the hype. The secret to success is taking a flexible approach that blends smart creative insights with technological control. Here’s how:

Preparing stock with smart predictions

The smartest retailers spend time carefully planning their stock inventories in line with trend predictions and relevant labels in the run-up to fashion week. Taking a close look at who’s showing on the LFW schedule can help retailers review their stock inventories while prioritising brands that are going to be under the spotlight. If you’re a luxury retailer for example, and you stock Burberry or Victoria Beckham, then you would want to ensure that these brands are easily accessible to on-site visitors in the fewest clicks possible. Moving these brands to top navigation menus, prioritising the labels above the fold on your category pages, or creating dedicated editorial stories and concept shops around them can help elevate their onsite presence when most eyes are looking for them.

Trusting street trends

If, on the other hand, you’re a fast-fashion retailer who doesn’t sell luxury labels showing at LFW, then pay close attention to social media influencers and fashion bloggers. What outfits are fashion’s new-generation influencers preparing for their trips to the runway shows? What accessories are they choosing to wear? What colours are trending? What hashtags are they using in their pre-fashion week Instagram posts? By paying close attention to emerging trends over the run-up to the week, this can help fast-fashion brands to select the most relevant and trending products to showcase to customers when the models and bloggers descend on the catwalks. Luxury labels can also take advantage of social by analysing in-demand ‘it’ products that celebrities are showcasing on the FROWs of the biggest shows, whilst recommending these in the most visible site positions.  

Using data as your competitive advantage

It’s always essential to cross-reference your observations with smart data insights, to ensure that you really are revealing the best brands in your possession across the best areas of your site. A famous brand might be the talk of the town during the week, but is it generating the most click-through rates or conversions for your site in comparison to other brands at your disposal? Does one of your competitors have a better competitive advantage with this brand as you approach fashion week, in terms of range or stock depth. If so, then do you possess stock of any new breakthrough acts on the schedule that might be causing a buzz on the catwalk? Are these brands generating better growth for you in terms of onsite keyword rankings or sell-through rates when compared with other labels? If so, then you may want to shift your merchandising focus by placing these labels in the most lucrative positions on your site. Your decision will drive the best results when you combine your creative intuitions with smart data usage.

Making the most of automation

The use of automated merchandising technology can be game-changing when it comes to putting these decisions into action at speed during fashion week. Algorithms can automatically rank relevant fashion week products on category pages depending on a range of customizable metrics that merchandisers can set and alter, giving them complete control over which in-demand brands or trends are showcased to consumers. This ability is particularly crucial during fashion week, where new trends quickly emerge and merchandisers need to rapidly adapt product placements based on ‘in-the-moment’ observations – something that is almost impossible without the help of automation. Algorithms can also quickly craft a personalised experience because they can analyse customer browsing and purchasing data to ensure that the right products, facets and brands are surfaced to them while they’re browsing during the week. Such time-saving innovations ensure that shoppers are served the right fashion week brands and trends that they love, while saving merchandisers tonnes of time so they can pay closer attention to what’s happening on the ground and on the catwalks. In the whirl-wind experience that is LFW, where trends change every second in the click of a paparazzi camera, this ability can make all the difference to a retailer’s results.