With online now the obvious growth sector for fashion retail, all retailers must now invest in a transactional website which delivers the best experience possible. For example, Fashionista noticed that Alexon has recently announced that as part of its overhaul of the Bay Trading brand, it will be launching a transactional website for the brand in the Spring.
Brands looking to launch an online offering are likely to outsource some or all of the online retail process to an external service provider. While outsourcing can save costs, brandowners should be mindful that they will lose control over delivery of the consumer experience. As a result, it's vital that the contract with the service provider sets out a clear description of the services being provided, together with detailled service levels and monitoring and reporting provisions. Service levels enable the brand to set the threshold of what service is "good enough", and service credits encourage performance by acting as a credit against the contract price if the service falls below the required threshold.
Fashionista warns that, as with all things legal, the devil is in the detail. For instance, if the website is hosted by a third party, the brand will want an assurance that the website will be available 24/7. Many hosters offer a guarantee of "99.5% availability". While this may sound impressive, it would actually allow 43 hours of downtime in a year. And what's more, the downtime could be at key selling times, such as the run up to Christmas. Speaking from experience, Fashionista recommends investing in the legal resource necessary to get a solid contract at the outset so you have recourse when things go wrong.