Data-fueled e-mail marketing, improved customer service and “moment marketing” can drive conversions.

Total global online sales rose 25 percent year-over-year to $2.3 trillion in 2017, according to eMarketer, and is on track to do the same this year. And while the share of sales in physical stores is expected to remain at about 88 percent of total sales, the explosive growth of e-commerce has been at the heart of the industry’s remaking.For apparel brands and retailers looking to maximize sales in stores and online through this transformation, industry experts urge companies to double down on marketing, customer service and consumer engagement.Nancy Friedman, a customer service expert and president of The Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Inc., trains retailers and brands on how to “provide improved customer service to increase sales and encourage return shoppers.”Friedman said while the growth of online sales “has chipped away at the market share of bricks-and-mortar retailers” companies can attract shoppers and increase repeat customers via better customer service.”More business is lost due to poor service and poor treatment than poor product,” she told WWD. “Retailers spend lots of marketing dollars trying to convince us to buy their products, but if that contact is not handled just right at the point of sale, all that money is wasted. Customers service failures not only impact sales and return business, but can damage a brand and lead to online shaming on social media.”Friedman suggests brands and retailers to train sales associates. “Hire a professional trainer to come to your store and train your workers how to treat the customer right,” she explained. “Poor customers service is almost always lack of proper training. Smart retailers that truly care about dealing with the public and providing quality customer service, invest in training programs.”On the digital side, companies are turning to artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms to develop more personalized marketing. Greg Zakowicz, senior commerce marketing analyst at automation marketing solution provider Oracle Bronto, which counts Rebecca Minkoff, Timex, Lucky Brand, Theory, Brooks Sports, Ashley Homestore and Christopher & Banks as among its clients, said in the current climate e-mail marketing “continues to be an extremely effective tool for driving sales.””However, when it comes to life cycle messages, companies often settle for basic best practices, leaving money and a better customer experience on the table,” Zakowicz told WWD. “Consider a welcome series, a series of messages sent to a new subscriber onboarding them with the brand and provide reasons they should shop. Often, the same set of messages is sent to all e-mail subscribers, regardless of age, gender, or other defining characteristics. Using data such as source of sign up or e-mail click behavior, a retailer can automate messaging in the welcome series that correlates to their interest.”Zakowicz said if a new subscriber clicks on a “maternity link” in the welcome message, for example, “the subsequent messaging could be maternity-themed. For those who click…