The biggest challenges for lingerie brands (& how to overcome them)

The biggest challenges for lingerie brands (& how to overcome them)

February 22, 2019

There was a time when the word ‘lingerie’ was used synonymously with ‘Victoria’s Secret’. But in recent years, the mass-market brand has seen declining sales and an increasing number of competitors.  

Shifting trends in the lingerie industry have opened the door for smaller, independent brands to come in and disrupt the market. With a focus on inclusivity and body positivity, niche lingerie brands and online start-ups are taking hold of the market. And mass-market companies are starting to notice. They want to claim what Victoria’s Secret is losing.

Amazon have already jumped on the trend, releasing their private label lingerie brand Iris & Lilly in 2017. Coming in with low prices and millions of Amazon Prime customers ready to convert, Amazon has the potential to make huge gains in the industry.

So, how can growing lingerie brands capitalise on these changing trends? How can businesses win new customers and claim their share of the market?

It all comes down to one thing: the shopping experience.

Amazon wouldn’t be the business it is today if it didn’t commit to providing a great shopping experience for their customers. No amount of marketing or celebrity endorsements will save you can’t fulfil orders on time.

To go up against competitors like Amazon and ASOS, lingerie brands need to go above and beyond with their customers’ journey. We’ve laid out the biggest challenges facing online lingerie brands, as well as exactly what you need to do to overcome them.

Barriers to conversion  

One of the biggest challenges facing online lingerie brands is converting new customers. Consumers are often unwilling to invest in lingerie from new brands or brands with a small reputation. Concerns about fit, comfort, quality and fulfilment can dissuade potential customers, so it’s essential for growing businesses to build a relationship with their audience and earn their trust. 

The fix: Offer proof

The most effective way for lingerie retailers to convert new customers is to offer them proof. Brands can do this by reaching out to experts like fashion writers, editors and bloggers, sending free samples and encouraging them to write about your brand in their publication. This kind of ‘expert proof’ reassures customers about your product quality, and enables you to include ‘As seen in’ media logos on your site.

Another way to increase your ‘social proof’ is to build up a strong online presence on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. By having a large follower count and plenty of social engagement, consumers start to see your brand as a viable buying option. You can also use influencer marketing to reach more people in your target audience, increasing your brand reputation and awareness.

Product management

Fast-growing fashion brands are powered by a host of different software. From your ecommerce platform and ERP to your marketplaces and warehouse system, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes.

When it comes to uploading and managing your products, each product needs to be updated across all your channels. For example, if the price of one of your products changes, you’ll need to go in and update that price on your ecommerce platform, ERP and any marketplaces you’re selling on. Not only is manually duplicating this data incredibly time-consuming, but it leaves businesses open to human error.

The fix: A single point to manage products

For lingerie brands looking to scale, spending hours manually updating products isn’t an option. With a range as large and diverse as lingerie, having a single place to manage products is essential.

By connecting your ecommerce platform and marketplaces to your business management software or ERP, you create a central product management point. Acting as the hub for your company’s software, any updates done through your ERP will feed through to your other sales channels, saving you and your employees heaps of time.

Stock availability 

Lingerie brands carry a huge range of products, all with multiple variants. From cup size and band size to different colour choices, each product can have hundreds of different variations. To keep stock levels manageable, brands usually only order a small amount of each size. Otherwise, their warehouse would be bursting at the seams.

With such a small amount of stock available for each product, overselling is a big risk for lingerie brands. And manually updating stock levels across your sales channels isn’t feasible, especially for fast-growing brands. 

The fix: Automated data syncs

The key to a good shopping experience is easy order fulfilment, which makes overselling a brand’s worst nightmare. That’s why automated data syncing is essential.

By integrating your warehouse software with your ecommerce platform, you open up an automated channel of communication between your systems. Through live inventory figures and automatic stock updates, you can keep your stock levels up to date across all your sales channels – whether that’s your website, Farfetch, eBay, Amazon or Etsy. By eliminating the need for manual input tasks, you free up resources and reduce the risk of errors.

With the Patchworks integration platform, you also have the option to pause your data syncs, enabling your website to manage stock levels during peak sales periods like Black Friday. When the storm of orders has passed, you can restart your data automation.

Order processing

In a world of Amazon Prime and same-day delivery, products are getting to our front doors faster than ever. Consumers expect brands to offer next-day delivery options, along with standard shipping options of no more than five working days. If these options aren’t offered, or worse, orders arrive late, your repeat purchase rates will plummet.

The fix: Synchronised orders

By integrating your pick, pack and dispatch software with your ecommerce platform and ERP, your customer’s order gets sent to your warehouse immediately. The order can then be processed, packed and sent out to customers, with synchronised order processing keeping your customer informed every step of the way. This speedy delivery time helps to increase your overall customer satisfaction, boosting repeat purchase rates and getting your brand those all-important positive reviews.  

Returns management  

Just like any other fashion niche, lingerie can be subject to high return rates. On average, clothing retailers report return rates of up to 40% for online sales. Without an effective returns process, these returns can cause havoc in your warehouse – and affect your customer relationship.

The fix: A customer-focused returns process

Most fast-growing companies, particularly in fashion, find managing returns in-house impossible. That’s why brands tend to invest in a returns management software like ReBOUND.

ReBOUND is a customer-focused returns system, making returns as simple as possible for the both you and the consumer. By managing the entire return journey and keeping your customers informed with tracking updates, you have time to process quicker refunds – earning your customers’ trust. And with intelligent reporting on a single IT platform, you can see exactly what, how and why returns are being sent back.

Review sites 

It’s no secret that reviews are important, especially when it comes to converting first-time buyers. Consumers look to customer reviews for reassurance before they buy from a new brand, so if you’ve got a string of one-star reviews, you’re unlikely to win the sale. In a recent survey by Bright Local, 85% of consumers said they trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations from their friends, and 49% needed at least a four-star rating before they’d even consider a business.

The fix: An integration platform

So, how do you win those positive reviews? It’s simple – deliver an incredible shopping experience to every customer. To do that, your business needs to be running smoothly behind the scenes. That’s where an integration platform comes in.

When you connect your essential systems through an integration platform, you get a foundational layer of tech for IT infrastructure. Through this platform, you can automate data syncs, troubleshoot and manage your data – without having to log in to multiple different systems.

By bringing the best elements of your business together under one roof, you create a robust system designed to process thousands of orders without breaking a sweat. And when your business is running like a well-oiled machine, you’ll be able to deliver a flawless experience for your customers – every time.

The best lingerie brands, powered by Patchworks

Discover how the Patchworks integration platform is helping some of the biggest brands in lingerie sell more online.

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Chloé Rose Whitmore

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