In occasion of this year's coincidence of Fashion Revolution Week and Girls in ICT Day (April 22), we have interviewed some of our members working in fashion and asked about their view on the digitalization of their business. More specifically, we talked about the role of e-commerce in today's fashion world. Here, Lieke van Schouwenburg, Co-founder of Share a Masterpiece, shares her perspective.
About Masterpiece: Masterpiece is a luxury fashion rental service. At Masterpiece women rent their clothes instead of buying these clothes. Masterpiece offers an endless wardrobe and a sustainable alternative for female professionals looking for variety in their business wear!
1) How big of a role does technology – and more specifically e-commerce – play in your business?
“Pretty big. Our website is our shop window, showcasing all the products and services we offer. Our standards are high and offering online options is very important. Some customers prefer shopping online, others prefer an offline experience. We want to offer the customer what they ask for, whether it’s online or offline. Convenience is key. For our online customers we invest in a clear and practical website with information on how renting clothes works, blogs to inspire our customers and practical tools like the option to filter on brand or size.”
2) What do you think about the evolution of e-commerce, especially since the pandemic started?
“In general the need and demand for e-commerce keeps growing. E-commerce has already been very important, but two lockdowns in the past year made e-commerce inevitable. The group of online shoppers has become bigger with a new target group: a group that would rather shop in real life but is forced to go online. We already invested in e-commerce from the start of our business. One of the advantages of e-commerce for smaller companies is you can easily expand your service area.
We believe it is important to offer a personal approach also online. We had to be creative during the pandemic. Normally we offer personal styling advice on location. Due to the lockdown this was no longer possible, and we scheduled videocalls. We discovered a big advantage: the customer can also show us her own wardrobe, literally. It makes it easier for us to estimate what someone’s personal style is and give advice on fitting and combining their own wardrobe with pieces from Masterpiece! It may take some getting used to, but it is certainly also a good addition to our services!”
3) What difficulties did you encounter while using e-commerce in your business and what advantages did it bring you?
“It has sometimes proven difficult to really present our clothes as they are. We offer high end labels that use rich or delicate fabrics and detailed prints. It is difficult to do these items justice in photographs. Sometimes our customers are pleasantly surprised when they see these clothes in person, because it looks even better than on the website.
The biggest advantage e-commerce has brought us is being present 24/7. We can show our products and services to larger audiences and to serve customers that live further away.”
4) In your opinion, what are the necessary elements for any e-commerce to be successful?
“There are so many websites and webshops that it is important to be visible for the right target group. We believe it is worth to invest both money and time in your online presence: website, images and content. It’s a misunderstanding that an online business saves you time. We have noticed that a personal approach is still something customers are looking for. Therefore we believe e-commerce should not be a separate element in your business. Try and combine online and offline and also invest in your online customers as much as possible. We always write a short and personal note with every order, reach out to our customers through social media and newsletters or support them with reminders to switch their rented clothes at the end of the month.”
5) What do you think of the future of e-commerce?
“We believe the importance of e-commerce will increase over the years. However, there are so many webshops already that it is becoming more and more important to distinguish yourself and your company.”
6) What tips would you give to women entrepreneurs who are trying to include/amplify an e-commerce section in their business?
“Start with a good plan. If you’re building a website start with thinking what it should serve as and make a plan according to that. Then you can focus on these goals right from the start and make sure you include (only) those elements that are needed. Spend your time well! It can also help to speak with your customers and target group and find out what is important to them. That way you know what they are looking for and use that to set up your e-commerce.”