Online retail is a crowded space. Merely curating looks and dishing out advice on newsletters is passé at best; worse, it’s increasingly ineffectual. But a new trend in online fashion retail is making social engagement increasingly personalized — whether through edgy tête-à-tête videos with fashion icons, or incorporating user-generated content to leverage the brand.

Here are three online retailers that are successfully merging their creative and social strategies:

Bib + Tuck
This online marketplace, which enables easy clothing exchange among women, wanted to “build a brand with a personality that connected with people,” according to its co-founder and marketing head Sari Bibliowicz. That’s why the company has complete creative control over its branding, with the goal of making “personal.”

Apart from an app, a presence on most social networks, weekly news blasts and online chats with stylists, it has dabbled in several other campaigns to engage with its customers. It has hosted offline events and curated pop-up installations and promoted the hashtag #tuckandtell to help users tag and celebrate the people they bought their clothes from. According to Topsy social analytics, the hashtag been used 25 times a day in the past one month, not bad for a tiny online retailer.

It has even gotten into the content game with a snarky video series called “Cash, Money, Clothes” that features interviews with fashion industry insiders. Bib +Tuck’s latest offering is a partnership with online retailer Bow & Drape called “Summericana,” which is a summer-inspired clothing collection. All these endeavors yield an approximate growth of 20 percent month-over-month social media following, according to Bibliowicz.

Bow & Drape
This made-to-order, customized online clothing retailer uses insights from its users’ custom-order requests to keep abreast of the latest trends, from cheeky sayings to Beyoncé allusions to custom bridal party gear. It has a presence on most social platforms, and uses both Twitter and Facebook to then micro-target relevant audiences and shows potential customers its highly personalized products, according to Francine Shahbaz, the director of marketing.

Bow & Drape does not have its own app because it is still a startup in the seed capital phase, yet it has managed to engage socially while monetizing too. It recently started using RewardStyle— which helps convert its blog features into a from of paid advertising and organically reach its audience in a content-driven way. It is soon launching a private beta portal for its most creative customers and bloggers, offering them the opportunity to design clothing and earn a commission on sales.

ModCloth
This fashion and décor e-retailer realizes that consumers use different social platforms for different purposes, and tailors its strategy to each accordingly. The common factor for all of the channels — and what sets it apart — is its use of user-generated content to tell the brand story. ModCloth showcases its customers’ pictures wearing clothing purchased from the brand on the various platforms, thereby promoting the brand as well as connecting with its customers.

 

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Its app too has several engaging features, such as Style Gallery — a platform on which users are able to browse the photos of other community members and shop the looks they love on ModCloth as well as a Tinder-like feature where customers can either “love” or “leave” products by swiping right and swiping left, respectively. This feature has resulted in over 850,000 product loves since launching in April 2014, according to the company. ModCloth also has weekly photo challenges, that derive engagement and offer prizes in return.

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