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The #1 reason for lost profit among sustainable brands

Published on 27 May 2021 by Penny Whitelaw in Fashion, Sustainability

We speak to sustainable fashion brands every single day and we get it. Changing the world is a big challenge. Building a profitable brand in today’s Covid impacted climate is even more difficult. 

Sustainable fashion brands put a huge amount of time, money, resources and effort into what they do. Yet, when it comes to closing the loop where end-customers are concerned, things fall down. Why? Excellent question.

Despite most brands’ best intentions, they forget to stand in their customers’ shoes

No, it is not because sustainable brands don’t care. They absolutely do. But let’s be real, changing the world is no cakewalk. It takes an incredible amount of effort, resilience, determination and pursing a purpose that is so much bigger than just selling us more “stuff”.

Every minute detail within the garment development process is considered and intentional. Designing garments for longevity, sourcing ethically and producing responsibly; are practices that require a lot of thought, attention and ongoing commitment. 

All the tiny little things that are part of this process take a huge amount of time: the fabrics, dyes, thread, zippers, buttons, finishes, labels, swing tags, packaging, shipping, as well as the people and partners who make connecting all these dots possible.

A significant amount of time is spent on product development and setting up effective distribution channels to get these labour of love products to market, maintain a good margin and ultimately build a profitable and sustainable business.

In addition, brands spend time and money on their communication and marketing, providing detailed transparency reports on their sustainable supply chain and the intended impact all this effort has on people and our planet. 

We often assume that creating the best end-product will retain customers

But with sustainable fashion’s rapid growth and online shopping providing an endless supply of options to customers, your products are not enough to set your brand apart. Since Covid rocked our world, there are even more challenges that have to be navigated.

A simple, yet critical enabler that makes all the difference in the world when it comes to building a profitable and sustainable business is overlooked. That is, to stand in your customer’s shoes

With so much to do and so little time, customer validation is not something that is commonly done by fashion brands

But it’s the one thing that makes all the difference in the world and gives your brand the greatest chance to stand out of the busy growing sustainability crowd.

What does it mean to stand in your customer’s shoes?

Very simple. It’s about understanding your customer experiences without making risky assumptions on what you think your customers want and need. And importantly, what goes into their buying decision process, not just the first time but again and again.

So yes, while brand transparency and a quality end-product are important, our extensive data shows that they are only part of your customers buying decision process. By getting to know your customers intimately, you can give them what they need and want, and in return, they will become happy and loyal brand advocates and tell all their friends!

Enabling you to maximise every cent you spend

So, how do you get to know your customers better? Here are some questions you need to understand the answers to about their experiences:

  • How do they shop online?
  • Why do they do what they do? 
  • Which products/features work and which do not?
  • What factors go into their decision-making process?
  • Which was are most important and why?
  • How does your brand’s online experience compare to the 4-5 competitor brands they are comparing you to?
  • What are challenges, barriers and friction points within your customers journey?
  • How can you remove these to provide more relevant and delightful experiences?  

Once you can answer these questions, you will have a brilliant understanding of what it is like to stand in your customer’s shoes. Unfortunately it is not enough to just create beautiful garments that tick all the sustainable boxes. Understanding your customer experiences will help you provide frictionless experiences that make your brand easy to love and buy from – again and again.

To win customers’ hearts & wallets you need to put the customer experience first

The result if you do? All your efforts will actually be worthwhile. One of Scircula’s customers is living proof of this. They identified that to increase their sales, it was necessary to extend their sustainability efforts beyond the supply chain. They have done this successfully by providing relevant and personalised online shopping experiences.

Their customer validation identified 4 key things that may be helpful for other sustainable fashion brands:

#1 The biggest barrier to converting new customers is the friction around size and fit

Our Consumer Insights Data support this fact with 85% of online shoppers being unfamiliar with how a brand’s garments are sized to fit and therefore guess their size. Did you get that, 85% guess their size!

#2 Customers do not find the information brands provide on how their garments are sized to fit helpful. So what they are doing is either buying multiple sizes for 1 item, hoping one fits and return the rest, or because it is way too much effort, abandon cart

Our Buying Behaviour Data shows that 30% of cart abandonment is directly attributed to the size and fit guesswork. That means that brands are losing customers every day that would otherwise have bought from them if they had a way to know their purchase would fit.

#3 Customers want to find their right fit for 3 reasons: 1: to save time, 2: to avoid the hassle of returns, 3: they are aware that every return creates at least 50kg’s of CO2 and care about their carbon footprint

Our Aggregated Data also supports all these points.

Sustainable brands and customers ultimately want the same thing: frictionless experiences that save time, money and our planet

So here you have it: the widely overlooked reason that leads to profit loss and how to fix it. Discover more here on how we help leading sustainable fashion brands build the most profitable and sustainable businesses.

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