Create data-driven strategies and unlock additional value in fashion marketing


The fashion industry is immensely impacted by a long list of variables often beyond the retailer’s control. Whether it’s high return rates, changing product margins, or the likelihood of customers returning to your brand, zooming in on what’s really happening under the hood of your data helps you navigate in more effective and profit-generating marketing. Chris Attewell, CEO of Search Laboratory, examines the evolution of retail.

As online retail continues to grow at record pace and customer expectations rise, sculpting data-driven motivations is key to evolving your digital marketing into a mature and sustainable strategy.

Search Laboratory has produced a white paper delving deeper into the search for added value in the fashion industry. Data experts discuss the power of looking at each product’s metrics and forming a bespoke, data-driven strategy best suited to your market. It’s not uncommon for products that appear to generate the highest revenue to actually perform with a negative ROI when additional factors are taken into account.

After looking at some of the major challenges facing fashion, such as margins, returns, and customer lifetime value, the data begins to reveal the huge environmental and economic costs that skew your bottom line. From a high-level snippet to SKU (product) level data, it becomes possible to fill in the gaps in your data and use the additional value to grow your marketing.


Arguably fashion’s most misleading challenge, margins on products are an often misleading metric. Many retailers will have margins ranging from 25-35% in the same mixed ROAS target spread across multiple products. This immediately creates a significant difference that can represent up to 40% increase in profit for the same ROAS.

By taking an item-by-item approach, you are able to see which products are the most profitable and where best to invest your efforts. A common example is dresses. There can be unanimously high earnings on a new line of women’s dresses that, on paper, generate big profits. However, it can have a small margin and a huge return rate, which means it generates less profit than an item selling much less volume, but with a higher margin and less returns.


Optoro estimates that only 50% of returns return to store inventory. The impact of customer return rates on fashion retailers is monumental. By adopting the same element-by-element basis, it is possible to improve your view of your data, enabling information to make informed and profitable decisions, while improving the experience and customer journey within your project.

A UK study of 2,000 shoppers found that 78% would buy more in the long run from retailers offering free returns. Three-quarters said returns are a key part of how they select a retailer and 86% say free returns will make them more loyal. It’s obvious that feedback is important to customers, and zooming in on your feedback data will give you a better understanding of what strategy works best for your business and its audience. Continuing to promote a product that is highly returned could waste valuable marketing budget.

Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)

Customer lifetime value is another variable that differs significantly across industries, retailers, and markets, but is equally important for all. By recognizing the likelihood of a customer returning to your site/service after their first purchase, you can use this to guide your entire approach.

Whether it’s setting up personalized messages and offers to users who are likely to return, or simply factoring probability into your marketing, connecting with different personas and their behaviors will only benefit your business.

Download a free copy of the white paper here to learn more about moving your marketing to a mature and sustainable paragon.

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