Three strategies that help add context to the shopping experience

February 10, 2023
Malini Konda

As per the State of Fashion report 2022 released by BoF and Mckinsey, 43 percent of US consumers said they would increase their fashion spend in 2021, with clothing for work and special occasions on top of their shopping lists. This comes as no surprise as people get back to a semblance of normalcy in their lives. The question is, are fashion retailers capitalizing on this?

As you explore website after website you find that they are basically structured around product categories. This means that they drill down to navigation based on basic attributes like silhouette, fit, and so on. Leaving the onus on the shopper to decide which category is suitable for the context of their shopping expedition.

While shoppers consider aesthetics, occasion, mood, and expression on a much higher level, they are forced to convert that into "should I buy a dress or a top for dinner?”. They have trouble deciding what is suitable and finding the right product. Contextual backgrounds could offer helpful cues but seen together on a category page they don’t make for very appealing aesthetics and can make the page look crowded.

So how does one add context back into the shopping experience?

We have three strategies that you might want to consider.

1. Convert UGC into shoppable content on the website

Every photograph with people in it is a styling statement be it good or bad. Retailers can showcase images of their customers or influencers on their website and make them instantly shoppable. These shoppable galleries do not have to be created manually. There are products in the market like Social Shopper that automate the entire workflow.  

These photos with interesting backgrounds give the much-needed context. Shoppers get an engaging experience, can visualize themselves in the relevant context, and get instant gratification by clicking and buying that same or similar outfit right away.

2. Theme-based curation. Create a shop within a shop
New York-based store “Story” took this exciting themed concept to another level. It curated products like a magazine, presented them like a gallery, and sold them like boutiques. it was a permanent popup that reinvented itself every few weeks to reveal an entirely original design – and entirely original merchandise. (And it had a super successful exit when Macy’s bought it.)

This is so much easier to pull off online, but retailers have not taken advantage of it as much as they should. In stores with large inventories, it is a clever idea to create shops within the shop. Curated collections based on current themes can make for an exciting online shopping experience. The themes add context and shoppers can dive straight into the theme that suits their needs. It is simple to stay up to date with relevant curation at all times with products like "Theme curator".

3. Enable search that understands context like a stylist would
Imagine looking online and searching for “What can I wear on a date?” Life would be so much easier. The problem is that for this to work the catalog images need to have tags that label them with aesthetic attributes. Adding tags to the catalog is still mostly manual and time-consuming but that is changing with AI/ML solutions that can be trained to recognize the aesthetic of a garment. If you don’t believe it, get in touch with us and see it for yourself. We can be reached at

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