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Aimee Millwood
Director of Content at Yotpo
April 5th, 2016

Interview with Lingerie Industry Experts

Lingerie is an industry with very specific pain points, making it a difficult nut for a lot of brands to crack.

Table Of Contents

I had the pleasure of interviewing two of the leading lingerie influencers on the current state of online shopping in the industry.

Cora Harrington, founder of The Lingerie Addict (the leading lingerie blog on the web) gave insight from the perspective of someone who has been reporting on the latest industry trends and brands for nearly 8 years.

Laura Mehlinger, founder of lingerie brand Lola Haze and a contributor to The Lingerie Addict, offers the perspective of someone who both reports on the industry and works in it.

In this interview, learn what Cora and Laura have to say about what keeps shoppers from buying bras online, how new stores can start selling, and why trust is such an important component of lingerie eCommerce.

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Lingerie is an industry notorious for its high rates of customer retention. While this is beneficial for established brands, it can hurt new brands trying to gain footing in a crowded industry.

In your experience, what motivates lingerie shoppers to seek out new brands?

“Lingerie runs the gamut from commodity to true luxury item, and there are plenty of shoppers who are looking for the next great little item. This might mean a new collection from a familiar brand, but it could mean exploring a new brand altogether,” Laura says.

Buyers looking for something new and exciting will buy based on emotion.  – Laura Mehlinger

How can brands earn the trust and sales of new visitors?

“First impressions matter, especially for new consumers. If a brand doesn’t have a website (or if their website hasn’t been updated recently), if a brand doesn’t post to social media, if a brand doesn’t respond to emails…all of that contributes to a lack of trust.

The most important thing a new brand can do when developing an outreach strategy is plan for the long-term. 

It takes multiple touch points to convert a visitor into a customer, and this is even more true for intimate apparel.

Once people find their favorite bra, they’re reluctant to change. – Cora Harrington

Discounts for new customers (especially customers who sign up to an email list) are always effective, and free shipping and returns are considered industry standard in some ways now. Nothaving those things makes a brand stand out in a negative way,” Cora says.

“As with all new brands, being responsive to customers is key. A quick turnaround on answering customer questions, as well as having a clear and easily navigable website will help customers trust the brand.

Return policies vary depending on the type of garment (i.e. panties are usually not returnable), but especially for pricier items, offering no hassle returns will help your customer feel confident in her purchase,” Laura says.

What’s the biggest reason you don’t purchase from new brands online, and how can brands solve this?

“If a website is poorly constructed and hard to navigate, I’ll just leave. Information like size charts, shipping fees, and return policies should be easily accessible from almost any page of the site (a footer is a good place to put those links).

And customers shouldn’t have to sign up for an account just to make a purchase or see the cost of shipping. Basically, a new brand needs to make sure that any questions potential consumers have are readily answerable from the information available on the site,” Cora says.

Most customers won’t email you for clarification – they’ll just go to a competitor. – Cora Harrington

What role do customer reviews play in lingerie shoppers’ purchase decisions?

“It’s not unusual for consumers to search for product reviews before making their purchase; I know of many people who visit HerRoom and Amazon just to read the reviews without actually intending to purchase from either site.

There are also more lingerie review forums available now; Bratabase is a particularly noteworthy one.

Customers feel like they’re getting an unfiltered opinion about a brand’s product when they read a reputable review, but the key word there is reputable,” Cora says.

If all the product reviews on your website are five stars, customers can very easily tip over from being impressed to being suspicious.  After all, it’s impossible for any one product to work perfectly for every body. – Cora Harrington

For brands who have lost their customers’ trust in some way, what can they do to pull back from it and re-gain customer support?

“It all depends on how they lost customers’ trust because not all missteps are equal. Generally speaking though, admitting to your mistake and apologizing for it is the first step.

Customers can be very forgiving of brands that make an error, but not when those brands double-down on those errors or refuse to admit to them.

In addition, having an already established PR and outreach strategy is essential as that will give a brand a way to disseminate their story and counteract a tide of negative press.

But a brand can’t wait until something bad happens before they decide to reach out to media outlets; those relationships have to be cultivated in advance,” Cora says.

Brands should always try to get ahead of customer-service issues. If the brand foresees a quality or service problem, it’s key to acknowledge it to the customer and suggest a solve as well as offering a gift or some other personal touch. – Laura Mehlinger

Conclusion 

For new brands in the lingerie industry, getting shoppers can be a challenge, but with the right tactics, brands can build a loyal customer base with high retention rates.

A key step in growing awareness for a new brand is influencer marketing, especially on social media.

To reach Cora, she says, “I love when new indie designers send their lookbooks and brand information my way. I also spend a lot of time looking for new brands on social platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram as well as on Etsy. But nothing is better than a personalized email introducing yourself.”

As for Laura, in order to get her attention, she says, “Word of mouth is still important, as well as trade shows, web and social media presence, and good, old fashioned print magazine spreads.”

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