Fashion E-commerce - Conversion versus branding? (SXSW 2014 talk by Pieter Jongerius)

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In fashion, perhaps more than anywhere else, branding is everything. Many fashion brands have spent decades building up a unique but delicate brand image: they often rely on staying enigmatic, using …

In fashion, perhaps more than anywhere else, branding is everything. Many fashion brands have spent decades building up a unique but delicate brand image: they often rely on staying enigmatic, using aspirational photography and inspired physical stores to differentiate. In an increasingly online world, this imposes a problem. Success in e-commerce is determined by laws of conversion, use of conventions and by enabling choice. Not by exceeding expectations and offering serendipity. This is why all profitable online fashion stores look more and more the same. In this talk, Pieter Jongerius has brought together the worlds of fashion, touchpoint strategy and e-commerce design. It contains a very concrete approach to obtaining success in fashion e-commerce, illustrated with recent best practices.

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  • 1. 1 - Pieter Jongerius - FASHION E-COMMERCE CONVERSION VS. BRANDING? Survival of the fittest
  • 2. In fashion, perhaps more than anywhere else, branding is everything. Many fashion brands have spent decades building up a unique but delicate brand image: they often rely on staying enigmatic, using aspirational photography and inspired physical stores to differentiate. In an increasingly online world, this imposes a problem. Success in e-commerce is determined by laws of conversion, use of conventions and by enabling choice. Not by exceeding expectations and offering serendipity. This is why all profitable online fashion stores look more and more the same. In this talk, Pieter Jongerius will bring together the worlds of fashion, touchpoint strategy and e-commerce design. After this talk, you will have learnt a very concrete approach to obtaining success in fashion e-commerce, illustrated with recent best practices. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 2
  • 3. Conversion and branding go hand in hand Our challenge Conversion Branding Model Three areas of interest @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 3
  • 4. At Fabrique, we specialize in Brand driven design @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 4
  • 5. I often compare the challenge that our clients have with that of birds of paradise. They have to comply to a lot of things, like having wings and little legs. But they also have the need to find ways to stand out and create a difference between themselves and their competitors @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 5
  • 6. In Fashion, as in many industries, our main way of creating a difference is through our products.
  • 7. But as soon as we start communicating, we all use the same visual language. And that’s a language that Coco Chanel has introduced in 1924
  • 8. …and that they’re still continuing.
  • 9. And they’re not the only one. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 9
  • 10. Big photo, small logo
  • 11. Big photo, small logo
  • 12. So for H&M, its relatively simple to associate themselves with higher-end fashion brands by doing the same.
  • 13. Even Diesel, who recently tried a significantly different style,
  • 14. …are conforming in more recent work again to the format: Big photo, small logo Is that me-too behavior? Or really the best way to convey emotion and attitude?
  • 15. Even net-a-porter know that they have to use a lot of room as soon as they enter the physical realm. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 15
  • 16. …as they do in Porter, their magazine. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 16
  • 17. …but not online. Why? @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 17
  • 18. BRANDING VS. CONVERSION? if you look at this, it comes as no surprise that especially in Fashion ecommerce, this paradox emerges:
  • 19. Increasingly, patterns SEEM to be the enemy of creativity and innovation @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 19
  • 20. It’s getting worse: @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 20
  • 21. 2009: bold statement. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 21
  • 22. 2014: nice white website. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 22
  • 23. 2009: Clean and unique @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 23
  • 24. 2014: nice white website. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 24
  • 25. Lands’ end 2009: Wonderful shopping and exploration island, with nice and big photography
  • 26. Lands’ end 2009: Wonderful shopping and exploration island, with nice and big photography
  • 27. 2014: nice white website. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 27
  • 28. 2014: nice white website. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 28
  • 29. And why? We can finally measure the rude and impatient behaviour of our customers. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 29
  • 30. 1 second delay in page response 7% cut in conversions 11% decline in page views 16% deduction in customer satisfaction @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 30
  • 31. Conversion is king. So you will have to come to the conclusion: @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 31
  • 32. ON CONVERSION The king, disected. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 32
  • 33. Conversion is …konbirnagn. ding! We have to acknowledge the fact that conversion is also branding. Evidently, someone is had a good enough user experience to actually buy something. However: our goal is to improve conversion AND create a difference. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 33
  • 34. Consider this car, and how we always complain that all cars increasingly look the same. Causes for this are the forces of nature, Wind, gravity, but also legislation. In our case: brain capacity. Creating overview, estimation of goal achievement, etc. …And there’s another reason. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 34
  • 35. 35 Convention. Even though you’ve probably never driven this exact type of car, because of convention you probably will be able to.
  • 36. Conversion is convention. …boring? @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 36
  • 37. Back to the first car. Who knows what type of car this is? How did you see? Yes, the tail light. THAT is the place where the car designers found room to differentiate. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 37
  • 38. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 38
  • 39. ? So if birds and cars have found their places of freedom as well as their constraints, how does that work with fashion web shops? And we’ll go into that. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 39
  • 40. How do our minds work? @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 40
  • 41. CONVERSION FAIL WIN Suppose above the orange line is a win, so the customer buys. Below the line we fail, the customer doesn't buy. Conversion is achieved by increasing ability (or usability). Boring but important. It leads to convention, as we’ve seen. But conversion is also increased by increasing motivation. And that’s much more fun! Because increasing motivation requires innovation and doing something different. boring but important SOURCE: BJ FOGG BEHAVIORMODEL.ORG (SIMPIFIED) USER ABILITY MOTIVATION MOTIVATION USABILITY fun! @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 41
  • 42. Branding is creating difference …not boring! @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 42
  • 43. Brands elicit passion if built up right. Brands are essential in many industries, fashion before most :)
  • 44. Conversion may be king … … but branding is everything! @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 44
  • 45. ON BRANDING What is a brand anyway? @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 45
  • 46. A brand is a network of associations in people’s heads @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 46
  • 47. advertising shoes competitive football Davids dynamics Kluivert Adidas NL elftal production USA multinational profit P&G agressive competition NO logo Agassi tennis Looks messy? It is! But for your brain that’s no problem. It adds all stimuli to create one brand image.
  • 48. Birkigt & Stadler Let me introduce to you a very simple model by B&S that we use almost every day.
  • 49. Birkigt&Stadler, 1986 communication brand appearance behavior Every brand reaches the market through three dimensions: communication, appearance and behavior (look up their publications for more detail)
  • 50. communication appearance behavior ? Outside > in When looking outside> in, you can describe a brand by what it does, looks like and says in the market.
  • 51. communication brand personality appearance behavior At every brand’s core: personality. This may be a real personality, such as Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld or Anna Wintour. Or it may be more abstract, such as Diesel or Nike.
  • 52. So, how to begin… @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 52
  • 53. PERSONALITY INSPIRES @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 53
  • 54. communication brand personality appearance Inside > out behavior You really have to understand who this brand is. And, again, it’s great to actually have a human personality at the center of this.
  • 55. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOnMSLSNmWY 55
  • 56. Aaker (1987) has created a map of personality characteristics. With these, we might describe Karl as being original yet sentimental, cool yet imaginative, intelligent yet charming. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 56
  • 57. Personality inspires! @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 57
  • 58. Back to our challenge. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 58
  • 59. ? How do we create difference? We’re already narrowing down and we’ve seen the three areas we can work on: @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 59
  • 60. product information trust & reassurance SEO brand new arrivals mail & social personality appearance UI patterns grids product photography web-safe fonts the “fold” devices sale communication behavior assortment price & promotions conditions mobile e-mail facebook We still have all these constraints that are so common to ecommerce.
  • 61. product information trust & reassurance SEO brand new arrivals mail & social personality appearance UI patterns grids product photography web-safe fonts the “fold” devices sale communication behavior assortment price & promotions conditions mobile e-mail facebook But there is room beyond all of these!! We’ll now go through these three dimensions, one by one.
  • 62. ? communication brand personality appearance behavior @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 62
  • 63. Story telling @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 63
  • 64. Rapha, a Dutch sports wear brand, tells stories accompanying many of their products. By doing this in a relevant way, they create added value. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 64
  • 65. Nike has traditionally focused on telling stories around new collections. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 65
  • 66. …but the shop is never far away. in both cases, users can also shop without having to take in the story content @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 66
  • 67. Persuasive design @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 67
  • 68. A nice concept by three-fifty @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 68
  • 69. scarcity Notice the SOLD signs? They communicate scarcity. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 69
  • 70. However, use with care: now I’m thinking all the good ones have gone! @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 70
  • 71. Tone of voice & copy @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 71
  • 72. This is the e-shop of Pharell Williams @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 72
  • 73. Look what happens when I add something to the basket :)) @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 73
  • 74. Shoedazzle Brand!t Here the UK startup Brandit tries to learn what is your level of income, in quite an original way! @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 74
  • 75. ? communication brand personality appearance behavior Behavior is the most exciting one by far, Because it’s all about innovation.
  • 76. Only dead fish go with the flow. Innovate or die. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 76
  • 77. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE Commerce Advice Relation Community Emotion These areas we defined together with a large Dutch retailer. We’ll briefly go through them. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 77
  • 78. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 78
  • 79. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion What you sell determines not only your business but also many other factors, such as how you look. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 79
  • 80. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion Use the properties of your collection to create something unique, Greats Brand shoes do that. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 80
  • 81. Selling just one product? You have all freedom of the world :) This effect can be a reason to launch temporary candy shops (as I call them) for a limited collection @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 81
  • 82. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 82
  • 83. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion If you have a unique way or see a chance of providing advice, this is an excellent way to differentiate. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 83
  • 84. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce fitsme.com · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion Fitsme claim: each visit yielda around $10 in increased conversion and diminished returns. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 84
  • 85. Also relatively conventional inspirational pages might be considered as being advice. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 85
  • 86. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 86
  • 87. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion Again, the UK startup Brandit is a great example. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 87
  • 88. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion They have an on-boarding process called MALE @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 88
  • 89. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion After registering, there is no shop. Just a chat engine in which you can ask your question. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 89
  • 90. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion So, when waking in the city, your phone may buzz and your personal shopper might come back to you with a suggestion! @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 90
  • 91. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion A couple of years ago, we all thought the world would move into profiling and customization Right now I see a movement towards human interaction The cloakroom a nice example from Amsterdam. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 91
  • 92. STRATEGY FOLLOWS BRAND · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 92
  • 93. STRATEGY FOLLOWS BRAND · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion All brands bring people together. The classic example of building a community around your brand. They challenge their community to design T-shirts. The community votes on the designs, and the succesful designs get produced. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 93
  • 94. Besides having these unique and fun challenges… @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 94
  • 95. …their shop actually conforms to the convention. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 95
  • 96. Co-creation. Participative design. The brand and audience that make together, stay together. Even if WE’re personally done with words like participative design and cocreation, this is still a large area of branding & conversion opportunity @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 96
  • 97. Co-creation. Participative design. The brand and audience that make together, stay together. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 97
  • 98. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce Somewhat disappointing: · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 92% of retailers share social media insight with their marketing department 53% with customer service 36% with product development @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 98
  • 99. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion Finally, as a brand, you might aim to elicit emotions and create associations based on that. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 99
  • 100. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion Like Uniqlo. They have a strong history of lifestyle apps that underline the brand @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 100
  • 101. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion Such as the wakeup app, that actually wakes you up by singing the weather for you @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 101
  • 102. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion …the gorgeous calendar app… @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 102
  • 103. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion …and currently, their Lifewear cooking app, pairing food with music and fashion. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 103
  • 104. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion However, when using the app, the link to lifewear is not clear and kind of hidden. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 104
  • 105. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE Commerce Advice Relation Community Emotion @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 105
  • 106. ? communication brand personality appearance behavior Next: appearance This is where branding-oriented merchants and designers alike are skidding off the track by the dozens.
  • 107. DON’T MESS WITH… · Main navigation · Basket top-right · Scannable and scrollable PLP · Filters left, maybe top · Clean PDP layout · Size guides & measurements · The “fold” · ..the buttons. Get creative? Watch out, dont mess with things like these. May seem trivial but I see so many shops violating this! @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 107
  • 108. it is however all about adopting your own color. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 108
  • 109. Some examples from our work @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 109
  • 110. Designers Victor & Rolf, being a bit perky, decided to ignore all conventions and wanted us to create a round website. But then again, they’re not selling anything :) @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 110
  • 111. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 111
  • 112. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 112
  • 113. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 113
  • 114. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 114
  • 115. Dutch/European fashion retailer
  • 116. When we were asked to create the design for their web store, all the briefing we got was: go visit our store. That’s what we want to see online. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 116
  • 117. independent, daring, down-to-earth In a couple of workshops, we formalized their brand, with these core values
  • 118. This is the homepage. It was one of our earliest sketches and they wanted it quite badly, even though it went against all rules and conventions for a homepage. Actually it worked very well and had a very low bounce rate. However after a year, we all got a bit tired of it, so now it’s been replaced anyway.
  • 119. Beyond that, our client wanted a bright shop that looked dark. Because it is urban myth that bright shops convert better than dark shops. So we worked very hard with lighting…
  • 120. …on clothes…
  • 121. …and on all elements. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 121
  • 122. By combining an unusual look with conventional navigation, the shop turned out to be both daring & down to earth.
  • 123. Supertrash: independent, engaging and feminine. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 123
  • 124. Men-at-Work: Rawness an craftmenship. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 124
  • 125. Coolcat. Young and rebellious. And, despite the dark background, quite well converting. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 125
  • 126. Mallett, London and NY based, one of the world foremost Antiques dealer. They performed a major market innovation: selling online. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 126
  • 127. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 127
  • 128. Mix of traditional values and the oppenness required by today’s ecommerce. In short, we had to create “a museum where you can buy things”.
  • 129. Having done a lot of work in the area of heritage, this was a home match in more than one way @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 129
  • 130. To underline accessablity, we designed the shop tablet first. Large scale controls, very little on the screen at a single time. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 130
  • 131. We even crafted a custom typeface to reflect tradition and innovation at the same time. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 131
  • 132. This is about as far as we’d go in deviating from conventional interface patterns.
  • 133. But… can you go overboard? @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 133
  • 134. Absolutely. How much does this product cost? How do you select a size? @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 134
  • 135. if you step out of the ordinary its very hard to get it right See this example by PME Legend Contrast is very very low… @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 135
  • 136. Even big brands like Calvin Klein have a hard time balancing branding and conversion. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 136
  • 137. This plethora of boxes is almost impossible to use. I’m pretty sure conversion for this site is quite low. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 137
  • 138. I’m sure you all know this pattern. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 138
  • 139. So why is this happening? Fakes are taking over. Because the logo is almost all they had. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 139
  • 140. Louis Vuitton goes logo free in China “At the risk of shocking everyone, the [rate of] sales growth at Louis Vuitton is not a problem,” said LVMH Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault at a shareholders’ meeting, stating that slow growth was part of the company’s “deliberate strategy” to become more exclusive. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 140
  • 141. So they’re improving branding by removing their logo, think about it. What elements are you overusing that helped you in the past?
  • 142. ✓ communication brand personality appearance behavior ✓ ✓ @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 142
  • 143. :) communication brand personality appearance behavior @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 143
  • 144. The classic dilemma, at an interface level @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 144
  • 145. So what if you know a four-column list page will convert better, but you think 3 colums look better? @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 145
  • 146. What if your designer comes up with an innovative way to turn products, but you fear that some customers will not understand? @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 146
  • 147. A/B tests. which test won.com What if you know conversion will increase if you show a mailing list lightbox, but you really hate them yourself? Then you do AB tests! Most ecommerce managers report that they’re not doing them, or not enough. Go, people! @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 147
  • 148. And what about… @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 148
  • 149. Nice brand videos? Sensational productions! Yes.. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 149
  • 150. Video is just for fans Research that the Dutch research agency Netmarketing did shows: Only fans will enjoy them. As long as they’re placed outside of the essential click paths, they won’t hurt other users. Until now, we could measure no positive effect on conversion, but it may be there for fans. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 150
  • 151. And what about lookbooks?
  • 152. and other traditional “branding” and “inspirational” content?
  • 153. “Inspiration” 20% / +20% Sadly, evidence shows that only 1 out of 5 people are actually interested in them… @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 153
  • 154. 20% / +20% basket size “Inspiration” However, after looking at it, they spend 20% more! That’s actually great news :) @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 154
  • 155. SO… @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 155
  • 156. ✓ communication brand personality appearance behavior ✓ ✓ ✓ @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 156
  • 157. DARE TO DIFFER UNDERSTAND TONE OF VOICE INNOVATE To sum it up, these are the 8 things you need to know and do to become succesful AND be different online. LOOK DIFFERENT INSPIRE (A BIT) NO DILEMMAS SURVIVE & THRIVE
  • 158. I hope this talk will help you find the competitive edge that really fits YOU. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 158
  • 159. brands, design & interaction We are investing in international business. Don’t hesitate to contact us. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 159 all content copyright of their respective owners Pieter Jongerius @pieterj
  • 160. Pieter Jongerius is a partner at the Dutch design agency Fabrique. Originally an Industrial Design Engineer, he specialized in web design as early as 1996, with a special interest in interaction, strategy and methodology. Fabrique specializes in strategic design for cross channel B2C communications and employs around 100 people. In recent years Pieter has specialized in retail & e-commerce and has done award winning work for national and international companies such as Heineken, Sony Music, SuperTrash, Hunkemöller, The Sting and more. Pieter is main author of the book "Get Agile! Scrum for UX and Development" and has been a pioneer of using Scrum in design and development projects since 2008. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 160