Fashion E-commerce - Branding vs. Conversion (SXSW14 talk)

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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 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.

Published in: Design

Fashion E-commerce - Branding vs. Conversion (SXSW14 talk)

  1. 1. 1 - Pieter Jongerius - FASHION E-COMMERCE CONVERSION VS. BRANDING? Survival of the fittest
  2. 2. 2@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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.
  3. 3. 3@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Conversion and branding go hand in hand Our challenge Conversion Branding Model Three areas of interest
  4. 4. 4@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF At Fabrique, we specialize in Brand driven design
  5. 5. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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
  6. 6. In Fashion, as in many industries, our main way of creating a difference is through our products.
  7. 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. 8. …and that they’re still continuing.
  9. 9. 9@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF And they’re not the only one.
  10. 10. Big photo, small logo
  11. 11. Big photo, small logo
  12. 12. So for H&M, its relatively simple to associate themselves with higher-end fashion brands by doing the same.
  13. 13. Even Diesel, who recently tried a significantly different style,
  14. 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. 15. 15@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Even net-a-porter know that they have to use a lot of room as soon as they enter the physical realm.
  16. 16. 16@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF …as they do in Porter, their magazine.
  17. 17. 17@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF …but not online. Why?
  18. 18. BRANDING VS. CONVERSION? if you look at this, it comes as no surprise that especially in Fashion ecommerce, this paradox emerges:
  19. 19. 19@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Increasingly, patterns SEEM to be the enemy of creativity and innovation
  20. 20. 20@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF It’s getting worse:
  21. 21. 21@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 2009: bold statement.
  22. 22. 22@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 2014: nice white website.
  23. 23. 23@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 2009: Clean and unique
  24. 24. 24@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 2014: nice white website.
  25. 25. Lands’ end 2009: Wonderful shopping and exploration island, with nice and big photography
  26. 26. Lands’ end 2009: Wonderful shopping and exploration island, with nice and big photography
  27. 27. 27@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 2014: nice white website.
  28. 28. 28@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 2014: nice white website.
  29. 29. 29@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF And why? We can finally measure the rude and impatient behaviour of our customers.
  30. 30. 30@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 1 second delay in page response 7% cut in conversions 11% decline in page views 16% deduction in customer satisfaction
  31. 31. 31@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Conversion is king. So you will have to come to the conclusion:
  32. 32. ON CONVERSION The king, disected. 32@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  33. 33. 33@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Conversion is koning.…branding! 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.
  34. 34. 34@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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.
  35. 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. 36. 36@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Conversion is convention. …boring?
  37. 37. 37@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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.
  38. 38. 38@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  39. 39. 39@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF ? 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.
  40. 40. How do our minds work? @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 40
  41. 41. FAIL CONVERSION SOURCE: BJ FOGG BEHAVIORMODEL.ORG (SIMPIFIED) 41@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF USER ABILITY MOTIVATION WIN MOTIVATION USABILITY boring but important fun! 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.
  42. 42. 42@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Branding is creating difference …not boring!
  43. 43. Brands elicit passion if built up right. Brands are essential in many industries, fashion before most :)
  44. 44. 44@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Conversion may be king … … but branding is everything!
  45. 45. ON BRANDING What is a brand anyway? 45@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  46. 46. 46@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF A brand is a network of associations in people’s heads
  47. 47. advertising shoes competitive Davids football dynamics Kluivert Adidas NL elftal agressive competition USA multinational profit P&G production 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. 48. Birkigt & Stadler Let me introduce to you a very simple model by B&S that we use almost every day.
  49. 49. appearance communication behavior brand Birkigt&Stadler, 1986 Every brand reaches the market through three dimensions: communication, appearance and behavior (look up their publications for more detail)
  50. 50. appearance communication behavior ? Outside > in When looking outside> in, you can describe a brand by what it does, looks like and says in the market.
  51. 51. appearance communication behavior brand personality 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. 52. 52@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF So, how to begin…
  53. 53. PERSONALITY INSPIRES 53@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  54. 54. appearance communication behavior brand personality Inside > out 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. 55. 55@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOnMSLSNmWY
  56. 56. 56@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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.
  57. 57. 57@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Personality inspires!
  58. 58. 58@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Back to our challenge.
  59. 59. 59@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF ? How do we create difference? We’re already narrowing down and we’ve seen the three areas we can work on:
  60. 60. appearance product information trust & reassurance SEO UI patterns grids product photography web-safe fonts the “fold” devices communication behavior brand personality assortment price & promotions conditions mobile e-mail facebook new arrivals mail & social sale We still have all these constraints that are so common to ecommerce.
  61. 61. appearance product information trust & reassurance SEO UI patterns grids product photography web-safe fonts the “fold” devices communication behavior brand personality assortment price & promotions conditions mobile e-mail facebook new arrivals mail & social sale But there is room beyond all of these!! We’ll now go through these three dimensions, one by one.
  62. 62. ? appearance communication behavior brand personality @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 62
  63. 63. 63@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Story telling
  64. 64. 64@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Rapha, a Dutch sports wear brand, tells stories accompanying many of their products. By doing this in a relevant way, they create added value.
  65. 65. 65@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Nike has traditionally focused on telling stories around new collections.
  66. 66. 66@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF …but the shop is never far away. in both cases, users can also shop without having to take in the story content
  67. 67. 67@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Persuasive design
  68. 68. 68@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF A nice concept by three-fifty
  69. 69. 69@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF scarcity Notice the SOLD signs? They communicate scarcity.
  70. 70. 70@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF However, use with care: now I’m thinking all the good ones have gone!
  71. 71. 71@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Tone of voice & copy
  72. 72. 72@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF This is the e-shop of Pharell Williams
  73. 73. 73@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Look what happens when I add something to the basket :))
  74. 74. 74@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Shoedazzle Brand!t Here the UK startup Brandit tries to learn what is your level of income, in quite an original way!
  75. 75. ? appearance communication behavior brand personality Behavior is the most exciting one by far, Because it’s all about innovation.
  76. 76. 76@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Only dead fish go with the flow. Innovate or die.
  77. 77. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE Commerce Advice Relation Community Emotion 77@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF These areas we defined together with a large Dutch retailer. We’ll briefly go through them.
  78. 78. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 78@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  79. 79. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 79@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF What you sell determines not only your business but also many other factors, such as how you look.
  80. 80. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 80@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Use the properties of your collection to create something unique, Greats Brand shoes do that.
  81. 81. 81@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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
  82. 82. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 82@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  83. 83. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 83@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF If you have a unique way or see a chance of providing advice, this is an excellent way to differentiate.
  84. 84. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 84@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF fitsme.com Fitsme claim: each visit yielda around $10 in increased conversion and diminished returns.
  85. 85. 85@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Also relatively conventional inspirational pages might be considered as being advice.
  86. 86. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 86@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  87. 87. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 87@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Again, the UK startup Brandit is a great example.
  88. 88. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 88@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF They have an on-boarding process called MALE
  89. 89. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 89@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF After registering, there is no shop. Just a chat engine in which you can ask your question.
  90. 90. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 90@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF So, when waking in the city, your phone may buzz and your personal shopper might come back to you with a suggestion!
  91. 91. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 91@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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.
  92. 92. STRATEGY FOLLOWS BRAND · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 92@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  93. 93. STRATEGY FOLLOWS BRAND · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 93@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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.
  94. 94. 94@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Besides having these unique and fun challenges…
  95. 95. 95@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF …their shop actually conforms to the convention.
  96. 96. 96@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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
  97. 97. 97@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Co-creation. Participative design. The brand and audience that make together, stay together.
  98. 98. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion Somewhat disappointing: 92% of retailers share social media insight with their marketing department 53% with customer service 36% with product development 98@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  99. 99. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 99@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Finally, as a brand, you might aim to elicit emotions and create associations based on that.
  100. 100. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 100@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Like Uniqlo. They have a strong history of lifestyle apps that underline the brand
  101. 101. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 101@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Such as the wakeup app, that actually wakes you up by singing the weather for you
  102. 102. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 102@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF …the gorgeous calendar app…
  103. 103. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 103@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF …and currently, their Lifewear cooking app, pairing food with music and fashion.
  104. 104. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE · Commerce · Advice · Relation · Community · Emotion 104@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF However, when using the app, the link to lifewear is not clear and kind of hidden.
  105. 105. BRANDING BY ADDING VALUE Commerce Advice Relation Community Emotion 105@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  106. 106. ? appearance communication behavior brand personality Next: appearance This is where branding-oriented merchants and designers alike are skidding off the track by the dozens.
  107. 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. 107@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Get creative? Watch out, dont mess with things like these. May seem trivial but I see so many shops violating this!
  108. 108. 108@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF it is however all about adopting your own color.
  109. 109. 109@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Some examples from our work
  110. 110. 110@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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 :)
  111. 111. 111@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  112. 112. 112@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  113. 113. 113@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  114. 114. 114@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  115. 115. Dutch/European fashion retailer
  116. 116. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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.
  117. 117. independent, daring, down-to-earth In a couple of workshops, we formalized their brand, with these core values
  118. 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. 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. 120. …on clothes…
  121. 121. 121@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF …and on all elements.
  122. 122. By combining an unusual look with conventional navigation, the shop turned out to be both daring & down to earth.
  123. 123. 123@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Supertrash: independent, engaging and feminine.
  124. 124. 124@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Men-at-Work: Rawness an craftmenship.
  125. 125. 125@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Coolcat. Young and rebellious. And, despite the dark background, quite well converting.
  126. 126. 126@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Mallett, London and NY based, one of the world foremost Antiques dealer. They performed a major market innovation: selling online.
  127. 127. 127@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  128. 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. 129. 129@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Having done a lot of work in the area of heritage, this was a home match in more than one way
  130. 130. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 130 To underline accessablity, we designed the shop tablet first. Large scale controls, very little on the screen at a single time.
  131. 131. 131@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF We even crafted a custom typeface to reflect tradition and innovation at the same time.
  132. 132. This is about as far as we’d go in deviating from conventional interface patterns.
  133. 133. 133@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF But… can you go overboard?
  134. 134. 134@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Absolutely. How much does this product cost? How do you select a size?
  135. 135. 135@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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…
  136. 136. 136@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Even big brands like Calvin Klein have a hard time balancing branding and conversion.
  137. 137. 137@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF This plethora of boxes is almost impossible to use. I’m pretty sure conversion for this site is quite low.
  138. 138. 138@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF I’m sure you all know this pattern.
  139. 139. 139@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF So why is this happening? Fakes are taking over. Because the logo is almost all they had.
  140. 140. 140@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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.
  141. 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. 142. ✓ appearance communication behavior brand personality ✓ ✓ @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 142
  143. 143. :) appearance communication behavior brand personality @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 143
  144. 144. 144@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF The classic dilemma, at an interface level
  145. 145. 145@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF So what if you know a four-column list page will convert better, but you think 3 colums look better?
  146. 146. 146@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF What if your designer comes up with an innovative way to turn products, but you fear that some customers will not understand?
  147. 147. 147@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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!
  148. 148. 148@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF And what about…
  149. 149. 149@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF Nice brand videos? Sensational productions! Yes..
  150. 150. 150@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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.
  151. 151. And what about lookbooks?
  152. 152. and other traditional “branding” and “inspirational” content?
  153. 153. 20% / +20% “Inspiration” @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 153 Sadly, evidence shows that only 1 out of 5 people are actually interested in them…
  154. 154. 20% / +20% basket size “Inspiration” @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 154 However, after looking at it, they spend 20% more! That’s actually great news :)
  155. 155. SO… 155@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF
  156. 156. ✓ appearance communication behavior brand personality ✓ ✓ @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 156 ✓
  157. 157. DARE TO DIFFER UNDERSTAND TONE OF VOICE INNOVATE LOOK DIFFERENT INSPIRE (A BIT) NO DILEMMAS SURVIVE & THRIVE To sum it up, these are the 8 things you need to know and do to become succesful AND be different online.
  158. 158. @PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 158 I hope this talk will help you find the competitive edge that really fits YOU.
  159. 159. 159@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF all content copyright of their respective owners brands, design & interaction We are investing in international business. Don’t hesitate to contact us. Pieter Jongerius @pieterj
  160. 160. 160@PIETERJ / #BRANDCONF 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.

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