Daily Insights

Top 10 Specialty Retail Brands in Digital

By: Alizah Asif Farooqi | Jul 18, 2018

Specialty Retail is under assault. Traffic to desktop and mobile sites has decreased by 21% since 2017, as brands contend not only with Amazon, but with the collective threat of direct-to-consumer disruptor brands. Fast fashion brands lead with elevated on-site merchandising and omnichannel capability, while home and gift brands struggle to compete via paid search on Google. The following ten brands displayed the best digital performance in the increasingly competitive category, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail:

1. Sephora
Digital IQ Index: 148

Sephora reigns victorious with strong earned media, best-in-class mobile product pages, and a top-scoring mobile app. Its platform-specific content strategy extends video shelf life via Instagram Stories, Instagram Highlights, and YouTube tutorials on social media. Lastly, Sephora highlights content-rich product pages with integrated user generated content complete with sorting and filtering, helping it continue to be the top loyalty program out of all tracked brands in Gartner L2’s study.

2. American Eagle
Digital IQ Index: 136

American Eagle soars with the strongest product pages of all brands tracked, including detailed on-model imagery and geo-local inventory integration. On social media, it received more interactions per Instagram post than 70% of other brands. It finishes off its performance with a well-stocked mobile site complete with vertical video, mobile-optimized live chat, and one-click add-to-cart cross-selling on product pages.

3. Forever 21
Digital IQ Index: 127

In addition to strong product page merchandising, Forever 21’s fulfillment functionality displays the distance from Free Shipping minimum for online shoppers. Additionally, it captures an outsized share of Instagram interactions relative to its posting frequency and continues to increase followers across all social platforms.

4. Victoria’s Secret
Digital IQ Index: 126

Victoria’s Secret boasts robust guided selling that incorporates an interactive quiz, fit videos, and an online and offline handoff to Brand Fit Specialists. Though it lags behind in mobile site functionality, it excels on social media, accounting for 18% of Instagram engagement relative to brands tracked in Gartner L2’s study.

5. Michael Kors
Digital IQ Index: 124

Michael Kors makes the cut with a mobile site that leads in customer service thanks in part to a geolocation-enabled store locator and mobile-optimized live chat. It also captured the third-highest share of views on YouTube by promoting launch and How-To videos of a new smartwatch.

6. Hollister
Digital IQ Index: 123

Hollister scores with best-in-class category pages that feature on-model views on mouseover. Additionally, Hollister highlights user generated content with quick view and is an early adopter of omnichannel features such as online reservations and in-store pickup.

7. H&M
Digital IQ Index: 121

H&M accessorizes its website with features such as distance from free shipping minimum integrated throughout the browsing experience. It also boasts the highest text ads visibility on unbranded apparel terms and uses YouTube to promote videos that showcase seasonal collections.

7. Urban Outfitters
Digital IQ Index: 121

While Urban Outfitters continues to maintain strong organic and paid visibility on apparel terms, it faces increased competition in categories like swim and home & gift. For example, new online fast fashion purveyor Zaful has higher organic visibility on unbranded swim terms than Urban Outfitters.

9. Fossil
Digital IQ Index: 120

Fossil’s introduction of the Fossil Q smartwatch contributed to its success in this year’s ranking, as it was supported by digital advertising and paid search. The brand experienced a significant increase in unbranded search visibility across watch and jewelry terms, helped by the fact that it is just one of two brands in Gartner L2’s study that offers on-hand views and size comparisons of products against common objects like an iPhone or a quarter.

10. Finish Line
Digital IQ Index: 119

Finish Line sprints into this year’s top ten with strong search and navigation on its website. Its outsized communities paired with high posting frequency across all platforms allow it to succeed on social media.