Sunday, 22 June 2014

Comparative Competitive Shopping 2

Lyon 4 Piece Sofa Set £225, Ray-Ban Matte Blue New Wayfarers £125, Navy Canvas Slip-On £20, Tipped Polo Shirt £16, Chino Shorts £16, Miami Chair £65, Delicate Bracelet Four Pack £8.50, Blue Stripy Sandals £30, Navy Playsuit £22, Fish Stacking Mugs Set of 4 £12, Teal Bubble Wine Glasses set of 4 £16  

So my next exercise in comparing the website and stores of brands took me to a large high-street retailer, one that's apparently doing pretty well at the moment.

The first thing I would say is that the shopping experience in the stores I visited was very different to the experience of shopping their site. I got the impression the site aims to replicate, or at least evoke, their iconic catalogue. So, to some extent, expecting it to resemble a store might not be valid.

Anyway, I visited the shops/website last Friday/Saturday. The homepage was promoting summery products, with a secondary focus on Fathers' Day gifts. There was a great image of a man on a yacht, wearing an ochre-coloured, geometric-print shirt.
When you followed the Fathers' Day link, a page of packshots represented the range of polo shirts, accessories (e.g. leather bags, watches), loungewear (e.g. slippers) grooming (fragrance) and gifts (a brushed-metal hip flash, etc.)
When you followed the link for womenswear for example, you came to a page which presented subcategories, such as casual, tailored and occasion. If you clicked casual, you reached a page of stories - a light, patterned, denimy collection, festival fashion, casual basics, beachwear... Selecting one of these took you to a series of editorial images, so you felt almost as if you were shopping from a magazine or catalogue. It was really enjoyable.

The first store I visited was quite a small one in the city of London. One window displayed the festival fashion story (pink poncho, etc.) and some denim. There was a menswear window too - summery items with a nautical slant, as on their homepage.
In the store, I spotted a chinzy-print prominent in tailoring online and some embroidered items from a middle east story - really nice but not a focus on the web. Some of the rails were marked with Fathers' Day signs, but you didn't have that much of selection of accessories / gifts.
Imagery was present, but it got a little lost among all the merchandise and it wasn't always imagery I'd noticed on the website. Lifestyle seemed to be conveyed and products seemed to be contextualised a lot less.

I also visited a bigger, flagship store. Here, it felt as if you could really take your time and enjoy your shop. There were some pretty stylish mannequins and striking images. I saw a little of the light denimy story that made up the first of the casualwear pages online. There was also a good choice of Fathers' Day fragrances and gifts by the men's tills.

Interestingly, nowhere I went had much of a homewear section - when this is one of the first options on their homepage. 

So online and in-store models differ, obviously, but overall I'd say merchandise and marketing messages were consistent.

The products above caught my eye when I was doing my research. I'm trying to spend as much time outside as possible at the moment (seize the sunshine while you have the opportunity!) These would set you up nicely for lazy day in the garden.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Comparative Competitive Shopping

Antonia's Flowers Floret Eau de Parfum £137, Diptyque Mousse Candle £40, Laure Mercier Creme de Pistache Honey Bath £32, Eve Lom Cleanser from£ 40, Malin + Goetz Sage Styling Cream £16, Kiehl's Creme de Corps from £16, Anthony Logistics Facial Moisturiser SPF 15 £32, Tom Ford for Men Eau de Toilette £48

I was discussing store visits and competitive shops with my manager recently. I do a bit both, but what I probably do most is online retail research. I thought it would be interesting to compare the online store to a bricks and mortar store of a couple of brands, to see how consistently they are merchandised.

First of all, I decided to look at a high-end beauty boutique - you might be able to guess which. At the moment, they have a print-based window scheme, six or seven moisturisers, exfoliators, supplements, etc. artfully arranged on a yellow background. When you enter the store, you see these products and more displayed on an island unit. Perspex blocks reveal that they make up the steps of particular beauty routine. There's some classic product by their bestselling brands, some more niche product, some newness; it's an interesting campaign and it certainly seemed to appeal to customers.

Their homepage featured the same image as the window. Beneath, pack-shots of particular products represented the steps of the beauty regime. When you clicked through, the selection of products was almost exactly the same as in store.

In store, the mens section was mainly Anthony Logistics, Kiehl's and a Malin + Goetz range that lead into the female skincare. The men's part of the website promoted a selection of essential men' products - the above brands were all well represented and their products were prominently positioned.

The in-store home selection was almost entirely Diptyque - candles, diffusers... Online, the 'home page' (not homepage, let us be clear!) was subcategory based, packshots linking to candles, sprays and diffusers, laundry products, hand wash. Diptyque was featured, but the candle subcategory packshot was own-brand. This was interesting as the own-brand candles were in the bath & body section of the website.

The website had a gift section which comprised a lot of sets. The only gift sets visible in store were an Eve Lom and a Malin + Goetz. The main fragrances in store were Diptyque, Acqua di Parma and Tom Ford - both of which were featured online. Serge Lutens and Antonia's Flowers made nice additions.

The most prominent make up brands when you walked into store were By Terry and Eve Lom - through Laura Mercier, Nars, Hourglass... were also present. Eve Lom was surprisingly pretty far down the foundation page of the site, though By Terry and Nars were packshots on the makeup page.

So there you have it, my comp of comp shopping. It's amazing what you can learn from presence and presentation, before you even get to sales figures and stock holding. I impulse purchased a lip liner while I was in store -  the perils of field work! I didn't buy anything while online, though I don't think you should read anything into that!

Hope you've had a great weekend!