Net-a-Porter: Winning Strategies for Selling Apparel and Clothing Online

| March 11, 2011 | Reply

Net-a-Porter is a luxury clothing and accessories retailer that carries some of the biggest brands in fashion today such as Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Valentino and others. It sells high-end designer clothing, lingerie, bags and shoes, mixed with an overall vibe of a glossy high fashion magazine.

In terms of shopping, Net-a-Porter excels in addressing two key questions of their high-income clientele:

  • How will the item look on a person?
  • What else can I wear this item with?’s Product Category Views

Showcasing just the product, and showing it as it is being used can elicit different responses from shoppers. It’s one thing to see the photo of a dress or a suit, and another to see it being worn by a person. Product presentation becomes more dynamic, allowing for stronger emotional responses from buyers. They can start envisioning how they will look when they’re wearing the item, and that gives them a stronger impetus to buy.

Net-a-Porter understands this, and they offer the unique functionality of allowing visitors to look at two views of the item right on the category page.

When you land on a category page such as Dresses, you have two options to view the product: the images of various dresses in their inventory, and the alternate view of the product as worn by a model.

Take for example this Emilio Pucci printed silk crepe de Chine gown ($5,450)

When you land into the category page, you will be shown photos of the dresses — an approach used by most of the online apparel sellers:

Up-close, here’s the Emilio Pucci dress as seen in the category page, which gives the name of the designer, name of the dress and price:

What sets Net-a-Porter apart from its competition is the second view of the product right there on the category pages. Without leaving the category page, you can simply hover your mouse over the product and you will be presented with an alternate view — the product and how it looks when worn by a model. Right there on the category page, a buyer can make better decisions about the product.

Here’s the shot when you hover over the image of the Emilio Pucci dress:’s Upsell Strategy

In the product page, Net-a-Porter offers several alternative views of the product — often more than the average high-end retailer. They feature several shots of the product from various angles, as well as several images of the model wearing the product. also does an excellent job in upselling their products, which they achieve in two ways:

  • The product description includes the name of the other items the model is wearing linked to the product pages of these other items.
  • The recommended suggestions labeled as “Wear It With” located below the product with thumbnail images of accessories and other items

This strategy works as it allows prospective buyers to see how the item really looks like when someone is wearing them, plus ideas of what other products and accessories work well with the product. It is also an excellent upsell strategy as the site makes it very easy for customers to purchase accessories and other clothing that can help complete the look.

For the Emilio Pucci dress, their recommendation is to:

Team it with a jet-black clutch and sandals to complete a statement-making look. Shown here with a Bottega Veneta clutch, Lanvin earrings, Kenneth Jay Lane ring and Jimmy Choo shoes.

But perhaps the biggest strength of Net-aPorter is its editorial content. In the product page, the etailer offers 3 tabs of product information:

  • Editor’s Notes – contains general information on the style and the look to aim for of the product, and suggestions on what accessories or co-ordinates to wear with each piece.
  • Details – detailed description of the product including its make, material, color, construction, style as well as care instructions
  • Size and Fit = country sizing, whether the item is true to size or not, undergarments needed, and even the measurement of the model and what size of clothes the model is wearing is one of the most successful online apparel companies today. A huge part of its success comes from its understanding that the quality of product presentation online is vital to the success of an e-retailer.

Category: Business Strategy, Ecommerce

About the Author ()

Isabel Isidro is a small business owner who writes about her experiences in starting and running a business. She is the co-founder of and also runs

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