Fashion Accessories Take Center Stage Online

Accentuate the positive! Fashion accessories is a special category, and we all have our own unique interpretation of what belongs. I decided to get a bit creative looking at everything from shoes to sunglasses. This is a category for shoppers that receives a lot of attention, spurs impulse buying and can serve as a nice way to spruce up one’s wardrobe as we all step up and out a bit more these days.

From handbags to luggage and price points that vary from the inexpensive to the luxurious and in between, accessories are in demand and marketing and promoting gifting accessories as gifts should be top of mind for retailers.

Fashion Accessories includes shoes, glasses, handbags

To gauge the current experience and how retailers can match the best of their competitors, the e-tailing group looked at over 20 fashion accessories e-commerce sites across this landscape. Brands play an important role and have invested heavily in the shopping experience and the point-of-view they put forth. Department stores also feature these goods and virtual sellers like Zappo’s also shine. It’s an excellent category for both personal consumption and gift giving so this post will reflect both.

Mother’s Day projections are strong as the National Retail Federation’s annual consumer survey finds that 84 percent of U.S. adults will partake in the festivities. Mother’s Day spending is expected to total $31.7 billion this year, up $3.6 billion from the record setting 2021. We will see how that plays out.

Three elements will frame this discussion starting with the brand. From there the focus shifts to perfecting the digital experience from merchandising to mastering the product display. Lastly, and on par in terms of importance is customer service and the omnichannel experiences that shoppers now expect from any brick-and-mortar retailer.


Doing Good Delivers

Branding is integral to the online shopping experience and many of the brands I visited are mission-oriented, so I will begin with “doing good.” For Toms, their grassroots efforts have been core to their business since 2006, giving away one pair of shoes for every pair sold and today they allocate 1/3 of their profits to doing good. It’s powerful to see that this kind of philanthropy is now part of more brand initiatives, as the causes are plentiful.

Toms brand example

Fashion Accessories that Focus on Sustainability

According to a survey from McKinsey & Co., 66% of all respondents and 75% of millennial respondents say that they consider sustainability when they make a purchase. Cole-Haan is just one example of a brand that has embraced designing for a better planet. Their top-line navigation reflects its importance, and the landing page introduces shoppers to the collections and products that are making a difference.

Cole Haan example
Cole Haan sustainability

Resale Initiatives on the Rise

Another trend gaining traction in fashion accessories and apparel is the resale market. The resale and secondhand markets are booming and, by 2023, are expected to reach $53 billion. Allbirds has launched a new marketplace that sells the slightly used and somewhat imperfect products. It’s not surprising as this focus is aligned with their brand and a wonderful fit for an expansion of their business.

allbirds shoe example


One of the ways that brands bring their products to life is through inspiring photography. They position the old and new to capture our attention but more importantly our hearts. Vans does just that with their “Classic Since Forever” designation on this shoe. One can’t help but want to give it a try.

Van's example

Dig into the Details

Another compelling way to capture the attention of the customer is via the product page details. Investing in imagery guides the online shopper through the decision-making process. The copy must be complete and when combined with the right imagery, it drives conversion. M. Gemi nails both with wonderful images of this purse, inside and out. I particularly like the “Thoughts from Maria,” their founder, which provides the real reason I should buy.

M. Gemi example of handbag

With Fashion Accessories, Get Social!

Social dynamics also play a more important role as this example from the hat brand Tilley suggests. They introduce a Shop Instagram section on their home page. Additionally, product page links, direct from these posts, can be added to the cart.

Tilley example of hat

With Fashion Accessories, Make it Your Own

Old school personalization still matters in this category. Vera Bradley positions their long-standing prowess in this area reinforcing its role in holiday gift giving.

Vera Bradley fashion accessories

Inspire the Gift Giver

Every day is a gifting opportunity and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day help prime the pump for spending. Coach puts forth a little extra love with their gift with a purchase offer. With any $400 purchase one gets a free body lotion or fragrance. For those spending $500 or more, a leather jewelry box is on the way. Their products inspire and their services and conveniences will seal the deal. From omnichannel pickup to financing and free shipping, including returns, it truly makes for a risk-free proposition. Their Gift Services include GiftNow, which can be selected at the product page.

Coach example of fashion accessories

Fashion Accessories Design Tools that Build Confidence for Buyers

In the case of Warby Parker, it takes just a few minutes to profile your needs. Visitors begin by answering just a few questions from face width to glasses color and material and they even try and tempt you with an eye exam. They then share a set of recommendations including highlighting staff favorites. Their “Home Try-on” has certainly won the hearts of shoppers and has been viewed as a game changer in this category.

Warby Parker example


Both the front-end and the back-end of the shopping experience are critical for initial conversion and potentially even more so when it comes to loyalty. Michael Kors does an exemplary job of articulating the services they offer to their customers. It includes the all-important gift card, GiftNow, gift wrap and the wishlist, which is a staple online. In-store pickup offers the conveniences needed and monogramming is an important part of the accessory equation here as well.

Michael Kors and GiftNow

Articulate Your Services Proposition

I appreciate how Sunglass Hut calls out the services they offer. They combine the customer favorite free shipping and returns while highlighting the conveniences of omnichannel. Sustainability is showcased on the shipping front moving beyond just a product focus to capture the attention of green customers.

Sunglass Hut Fashion Accessories

Deliver a Loyalty Program

DSW leverages loyalty and their VIP program to accelerate their marketing initiatives. The incentive of 20% off after an initial VIP purchase can surely be attractive for loyalists. Customers also appreciate being able to accumulate points with every purchase. For the shoe aficionados among us, this package should be compelling.

DSW Example for fashion accessories


When it comes to gift giving and fashion accessories, the e-tailing group suggests keeping 3 things top-of-mind.

  1. Begin with your brand and highlight all differentiators.
  2. Inspire shoppers with compelling photography and comprehensive product details along with the best in gifting.
  3. Lastly, online shopping is about services and convenience. Make sure you take care of the customer and let them complete the transaction their way.

Lauren Freedman is president of the e-tailing group

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Jewelry Gifting – Put Sparkle in Your Website

Retail Customer Service – Show Shoppers Some Love

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This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including GiftNow, (collectively, “Synchrony”) makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions are the sole opinions of Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

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