Sunday, 15 November 2015

Search and searches

Plumen Drop Top Pendant Lamps, Bitossi Lucca Wine Glass Amber, Korres Colour Guava Lipstick, H&M Conscious Coat

A conversation at work got me thinking about the (semantic) difference between singulars and plurals when entered into a search bar. It seems to me that customers who type, say, lamp instead of lamps, are closer to the point of purchase - they 'want to buy a lamp'. Customers who search for coats rather than coat, on the other hand, 'want to see all your coats', they're only beginning to consider buying something.

So I tried to find out if any retailers were treating singular and plural search terms differently. I looked at six retailers of both lamps and coats. On the whole, I found that search results for singulars and plurals were identical. In a few cases, bad listings were returned for the singular and/or plural. And I found only one instance of different, good results for coat and coats - here the singular brought up more statement, more expensive pieces.

 There are some products that you would be more inclined to purchase in multiples - say wine glasses - and some products that are generally referred to collectively - lipstick, for instance. For these items, I found one retailer with different search results for the singular and the plural. For wine glasses, more expensive results were returned than for wine glass, and some beer glasses were shown.

Then I tried to decrypt some Google results for lamp/lamps, coat/coats, wine glass/wine glasses and lipstick/lipsticks. I also looked at some more specific search terms - metallic lamp(s), duster coat(s), nude lipstick(s), stemless wine glass(es).

The results varied a lot - in terms of how many retailers were returned (and if any news stories or google images, for example, were displayed), in terms of which retailers were returned, regarding whether there were Google Ads, regarding whether there was Google Shopping... But I couldn't really draw out any distinguishing characteristics of singular/plural searches. It was just too vast.

This is just something I have been pondering though. I'm by no means knowledgeable about this area!

Anyway, I have been meaning to post for a while. My role at work is changing at the moment. While it's changing, I might not post for a bit, and when I do start writing again, the topics of my posts might be different. Just to let you know.

Hope you had a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

London Design Festival - Multiplex, Tom Dixon's Department Store

We went to Multiplex on Saturday, Tom Dixon's temporary department-store-of-the-future, part of the London Design Festival.

It was in a cavernous space, The Old Selfridges' Hotel, lighting was low and the walls were lined with silver foil. The departments comprised homeware (of course), fashion, accessories, beauty, food and drink. The atmosphere was calming and yet engaging, it really seemed to encourage conversation with the brands that were represented.

Some of the brands and some of the merchandising that caught my eye were:

Haeckels - You couldn't fail but notice their 'polytunnel' spa with planted porch, and, in fact, it encapsulated several important influences on their brand: a love of the coastal botanicals found near Margate and the science used to compound these botanicals into natural fragrances and skincare.
The cosmetics were displayed simply, each given sufficient space to stand out. Perfumes stood on top of wooden boxes marked with the GPS co-ordinates of the location where they were inspired, and the date and meteorological conditions when they were inspired.
As a whole area, it worked wonderfully!

Obataimu - This fabric-focused, concept-led, slow-fashion brand had an ingenious display in a corner of the department store. The two walls had not been used to display clothes, instead a video from their factory was projected onto the long wall, with some beautiful stills affixed to the left, and some infographics were positioned on the smaller wall to the right. The clothes were hung on two levels, parallel to the walls and extending almost their length, forming an enclosed, intimate space within the department store. 
Dresses from the Wabi Sabi collection (which 'indulg[es] individuality, impulse, statement and process') and other standout pieces, were in placed in hotspots to encourage customers to interact - reach up, touch the fabric and so on. The Shibui collection, inspired by witnessing people snatching shut-eye on the Tokyo tube and developed with sleep textile innovators, was mainly displayed on the right.
Finally, in the middle of the space, there was a selection of interesting books, to engage and give a homely feel.
Obataimu also have an excellent website.

Gelato Meccanico - How merchandising would be applied to a 'café-setting' isn't something I have really considered before, I can't claim very much knowledge of it all all, but I adored the presentation of Gelato Meccanico's ice creams! As we entered Multiplex, we were given a miniature cone that we could take to the food department to receive a free ice cream sample. As we queued, we admired two beautiful manual gelato churns. In cream enamel, natural wood and copper, these provided an insight into the performance and authenticity that seem important parts of this brand. A series of infographics explained the science behind the churns. Five or six flavours, some classic, some more inventive, were served from lovely chrome chillers.
And after that, my little scoop of honey and rosemary was absolutely delicious!

Tom Dixon's products really lend themselves to merchandising. An island of candles, a tower of gifts, in burnished copper and brass, naturally draw shoppers across for a closer look.
I repeatedly found myself pulled towards striking light fittings as well - Dixon's, and those of a New Zealand design house, Resident - and guided from department to department by light.

Multiplex is on until 18th October. If you can look in, it's really worthwhile!

First collage (clockwise from top) Tom Dixon Tank Jug £95, Brew Stove Top £125, Scent Diffuser Earth £85, Cog Candelabra £200, Large Scented Candle London £80, Plum Cocktail Shaker £95
Second collage (clockwise from top) Haeckels Eau de Parfum GPS 26'3"E £160, Exfoliating Seaweed Block £18, Seaweed/Geranium Hand Balm £18, Seaweed/Sea Lavender Lip Balm £15, Seaweed/Carrot Seed Facial Serum £65, Candle GPS 26'3"E £50

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Month in Online Merchandising : September

Seasalt Bowline Jacket £140, Des Petites Hauts Bibli Cardigan €159, Clarks Orla Andie Boots £180, Sambonet Terra Cotto Saucepot £52 at Heals, Wild & Wolf Enamel Bowls £27.50 at Baltic Shop, John Lewis Nordic Carafe £12 and Tumblers £4 each

It's September and already all-go with us. Here are my 'undo-able' to-dos for the month:

As we start to build up to the month of December, I've a long list of pages to optimise. I'm starting with really key pages now: pages of products that are integral to customers festive activities. Depending on what industry you're in that could be gifts, items for entertaining, decorations, party-wear... Then, I'll do some more tangential pages and return to core areas in a month or so, to make them fresh and even more relevant, and to look after any new products.
This year, I already have the end of December at the back of my mind as well - how pages can be adapted to meet the very different demands of the Winter sales period.

I haven't managed to make much progress on my compendium of great merchandising ideas - I think I need to set aside an hour or two each week for recording anything I've spotted, browsing for more examples etc...

We are wanting to review our 'review processes' soon too: take a look at what it is we currently esteem to be a success and how we measure degrees of success. Merchandising can achieve lots and lots of different things - improving sales, improving product views (and I say improving not increasing because sometimes you might not be going after volumes), increasing profit, creating a particular aesthetic-impression (one consistent with bricks-and-mortar stores, for example)... And you can measure in lots of different ways - you can consider individual products, you can consider pages as a whole, you can consider areas of pages (e.g. the effect generated by the first three rows, or the top right-hand product).
The processes we have in place now are good, but it's important consider other options or improvements.

Well, have a lovely week. I'm hoping to write some more about the first of my to-dos - to give a bit of an insight into how I'm thinking when I'm merchandising at the moment - so hopefully, it won't be too long before I post again.

Mari x

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Berlin II - Web Merchandising Case Studies and Examples

Plip, the Umbrella Man by David Sire and Thomas Baas 14.90€ (from Gestalten), Premiata Sneaker 142.10€ (from 203€), Umasan Y-Shirt 179€, Lumi Venla Pouch €89

I was back in Berlin last week (see my first post about Berlin here) and visited Bikini - a 'concept mall' in a striking '50's building overlooking the city's zoo.

I loved it - I could have marvelled at the architecture and browsed the fashion and homeware brands for hours! And in adjoining buildings, I could have taken in a film at the Zoo Palast cinema, recharged at the 25Hours Hotel or even rented an office!

Looking at their website, as a virtual tourist, I found a clear list of shops and an informative page devoted to each. Some photographs might have made me even more inclined to visit. A clear floorplan was helpful though.
On the attractive homepage, a couple of newer shops and restaurants were highlighted.

The 'What is Bikini Berlin?' section gave an impressive level of detail on the history of the Bikini complex. (Out of interest, Bikini comes from a nickname given to the mall building in the 1950's - its two tier architecture reminded locals of swimwear!) There was also a well-hidden link to an online shop selling mall merchandise.
This page was accessible through two top bar links.

An Events and a Blog section provided reasons to keep returning both to mall and website. Services gave you all the information you needed about location, opening hours, restaurants and possible tours.

The collage above shows some of the items that grabbed me.

Have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Month in Online Merchandising : August

(Clockwise from top left) Ilcsi Apricot Gel Mask (from £30, Mango Textured Cotton Blend Dress £59.99, Ilcsi Sour Cherry and Blackthorn Gel Mask (from £30, Embossed Enamel Bowls from £8.95, A Lot on Her Plate recipe book £25

August is a slightly strange month. The run up to Christmas is extremely busy in retail, so you feel you should be taking some holiday now - it's sunny, it's the last time when you're really completely free to take time off, and you need to build up a reserve of energy for the months of September, October, November and December. And yet, a lot of people seem to take multiple, short breaks, maybe because, though comparatively it's less busy than September, it's not quiet - there are always meetings to attend, projects to work on, etc. August feels as if it's a month of coming and going.

In the midst of this transience, here's what I have planned:

- Some forecasting for seasonal offers/promotions - Halloween, Christmas, New Year...
- Making sure my pages chime with the tones of late summer - with the desire to picnic, or to dine al fresco, to cook with summer fruit and veg, and buy fresh flowers, to camp (at festivals, or somewhere more remote), to daytrip, to do implausible things like attend outdoor, nighttime film showings!
I'll be prioritising products that are practical for these sorts of activities, materials that are colourful, airy and light or hard and cooling.
- At the same time, trying to make certain pages more autumnal, with a focus on more muted colours, shades towards russets and plums, denser, cosier fabrics and so on. Items that are useful if you are lounging at home - reading, watching something, cooking - or if you are outdoors in slightly cooler, crisper weather, will be given more attention.
- Some competitive shopping and making a compendium of any interesting range presentation ideas I find.
- Throwing a launch party for a strategy I'm involved in communicating to my colleagues.

Hopefully, I'll manage to snatch enough time!

Well, have a great week!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Fabrics - Web Merchandising Case Studies and Examples

Scion Kamili, Shoji and Meiko fabrics, Medwinds EV dress £99 (from £150), Kusmi Genmaicha and Sencha Fukuyu tea £15.40 each, Muji Hakuji Porcelain Teapot and Cup £9.95 and £2.95

Like everyone, I suppose, I sometimes feel my job is pretty tricky.
To put things in perspective, I decided to have a look at some sites selling products that seemed inherently particularly hard to merchandise. I've always thought that fabric would be difficult to work with - colour and pattern pulling you in different directions (would colour be my main concern if I were buying fabric for some new curtains? or would it be pattern? it's very difficult to say), the risk of it becoming monotonous if you use only detail-shot thumbnails in your galleries, the high chance of not properly showing texture, or smaller, more delicate patterns, of you don't use close-ups...

I found several sites merchandising fabrics really well however, among them Scion.

If, from the arrestingly, engagingly designed homepage (as you scroll, the page pans down for you in a really enticing way), you navigate to the fabric department, you're met with an overview and room-setting image links to sixteen collections. The collections are listed alphabetically and clicking opens up a description of the inspiration and intention, and a thumbnail of each pattern. The arrangement of these thumbnails is alphabetical and the colours seem to have been chosen to be aesthetically pleasing - you have two earthy, natural dye tones next to one another, two faded grey shades together, etc.

The collection pages start with the description again and more beautifully-styled room-setting shots, each with bubbles you can click to reveal the names of the fabrics. Wallpapers in the same collection are also quite prominently linked.

After this you see the pattern thumbnails as above. Or you can click on 'colourways' to reveal the patterns, interestingly not arranged alphabetically this time, in every available colour. Here again, I think attention had been paid to the flow of the colours, particularly where one pattern ran into the next - an inky block print was next to a repeating, blue and red patch design, etc.
Alternatively, you could click on a thumbnail to view product details, an image in a room setting, alternative colourways and some complementary products.

From the fabric department page, you had a second option of viewing thumbnails of all fabrics (all patterns in all colours) at once. Here you could sort alphabetically, by recency, or by colour. The default ordering was definitely not alphabetical and I felt there might have been less deference to aesthetic-effect (more of an emphasis on best-sellers perhaps). Clicking a thumbnail revealed the same product details as before.

Overcoming the difficulties of merchandising fabrics, this was a really nice website, displaying really beautiful materials. I've incorporated my favourites from the Wabi Sabi collection into the collage above.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Month in Online Merchandising : July

Here are a couple of crisp shirts and chic sunnies, to keep and look cool this summer:
Uniqlo Premium Linen 3/4 Sleeve Shirt £19.90, Chinti and Parker x Net Broderie Anglaise Shirt £150, Alexander Wang Cropped Short Sleeve Poplin Shirt £109 down from £182, Jigsaw Alex Sunglasses £60, Anna-Karin Karlsson Rose Rouge Glasses €495, Eleven Paris Lusilver Glasses £79

And here's what is top of my to do list this month:

- Having done sale, it now has to be undone. Any layouts that were changed will revert back to their initial state, or be reworked completely.

- I am continuing to think about what's coming after summer. The transition from holiday back into the workplace, school or university will be at the top of many retailers' agendas - from fashion, to beauty, to food.
I would like to look at sales this time last year and build layouts around best sellers/better sellers (by this I mean products that sold much better than in earlier summer or later autumn). If there have been range changes, I will have to look at comparable products, of course. And if there are any opportunities for relevant content, I will work with colleagues to produce it. 
I am also preparing a promotion - helping to decide where and how it will be communicated, and forecasting accordingly.

- We have an issue with the delivery dates offered for a handful of our products at the moment. I am having to take on a detective role to ascertain why and to ensure our customers receive an accurate date, as close as possible to the day they order, no matter what they order.

- A lot of products will be added to the range at a certain point over the next couple of months. There are various reasons for possible delays, so I am trying to confirm that particular, key products are visible/purchasable promptly.

- We are working up to the launch of a new strategy that will guide the country for an extended period. I am lucky enough to be partly responsible for some local implementation, so I am trying to ensure that the most relevant product galleries/department pages are strategically aligned. I am also organising events and activities to communicate the strategy to the other members of our team, whether or not they will be working with it directly.

That's been quite enough to be getting on with for the last few weeks - it might keep me busy into August even!

Hope you've had a great month so far!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Lisbon - Web Merchandising Case Studies and Examples

Sennes Esperer por Coat 255, Madara Soap and Facial Masks at Organii, Encosta-te a Mim Cushions, Caulino Wall Balloon €130

I have been meaning to mention a couple of Portuguese brands. We were lucky enough to spend a week in Lisbon recently, you see. I think they're worth taking a look at online, and it would definitely be a shame to miss them if you're ever in the area.

First of all, Embaixada and Entre Tanto in Principe Real. Both are old palaces (Entre Tanto dates from the 17th century, while Embaixada is 19th-century, neo-Arabian fantasy!) in which each airy room is occupied by an exciting small brand.
Some of the ones to look out for are -
Urze - selling branded wool (including burel) and linen items from Manteigas, in the Serra d Estrela mountains. One brand, Sennes, has a minimal, but highly inspiring site, promoting and selling their outerwear and bags.
Organii - which sells organic cosmetics and baby products, from brands including Latvian Madara, Australian Nvey Eco and Irish Voya. They have a friendly, commercial site. 
Mimolab - a children's event organiser, also selling some toys and textiles. Browsing their true-to-brand website is lovely experience.
Antiflop - an artful scarf and shirt shop.
Encosta-te a Mim - producing cushions in the loveliest of colours.

Both Embaixada and Entre Tanto have clear websites, with comprehensive lists of their brands, and glossy images.

Second, Baixa-based Caulino. This is a studio creating and displaying striking, sometimes challenging, ceramics, as well as offering workshops and holidays to the neophyte and the more experienced. Again, their site is clean, with rich images, and a simple, well-merchandised shop.

Lastly Cork & Co, in Bairro Alto, with its cork collection ranging from handbags and jewellery, to design pieces like lighting, tableware and furniture, and Vista Alegre, a historic, yet modern, Portuguese luxury brand.

Lisbon is a beautiful, pastel-painted, tile-covered city. The food (pregos, bacalhau and chickpea salads, chourico, natas...), the wine (the Duoro, Alentejo, Vinho Verdo, the Port) is all so flavoursome! It's near the sea, near the mountains, and its slightly slower, mediterranean pace allows you to really unwind. I'd recommend it to absolutely everyone!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Month in Online Merchandising : June

KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer Green Apple £429 (from House of Fraser), Cuisinart Ice Cream Deluxe £67.50 (from John Lewis), Magimix Le Glacier Ice Cream Maker Chrome £79.97 (from Selfridges), Zoku Classic Ice Lolly Mold £13.50 (from John Lewis), Antillasse Ice Cream Dish £7 (from the Conran Shop), Rice Melamine Cups and Spoons £14 and £8.25 (from, Zak Ice Cream Bowl £7 (from Selfridges), Mechanical Ice Cream Scoop £10 (from John Lewis)

Here is what I expect to get up to over the next few weeks:

- Tending to galleries - Some with high turnover need to be reviewed, as do some that are suffering through poor availability. Then there are a couple that are strategically important right now and a couple that I haven't had time to merchandise in a while.

- Last pieces of preparation for summer sale - We don't do sale in a big way, but I will certainly check the presentation, position, status and so on for all discounted products.

- Work on three meaty projects - On one, we are completing some testing before making some final decisions and knuckling down. For another, I am not so deeply involved at the moment, but am still needing to chase some emails and extent further offers to support. For the last, I have done what I can, so now I hope to motivate my colleagues.

- Training and archiving activities - I am studying materials and starting to compile.

- Looking forward to some post-summer promotions - Initially, I want to check what needs to be done and when.

- A last long-term job is conducting research into how merchandising might work first of all if we, at some point in the future, require a responsive website, and second if we, at some point in the future, acquire some tools to automate merchandising a little more.

Enjoy the start of summer!

Sunday, 17 May 2015


Lucien Reiss Hat £59, Sunny Hat Eugenia Kim £320, Straw Hat Maison Scotch £29.95, Paper Trillby Paul Smith £125, Pattern Visor Topshop £16, Blue Baseball Cap Christys' £39

This is a heads-up that I intend to make the blog a little less discursive going forward, so that both the text and the images are more notational in style.

The main reason is that I'm considering starting work on another project and need to free up some time.

It may last a couple of months, or it may last longer. But I'm hopeful (perhaps overhopeful!) that condensing my copy and my collages might mean I post more often.

For a 'heads-up', some hats (above) seemed apposite. Have a great week!

Friday, 8 May 2015

Taking a merchandising-approach to content focussed pages

Marimekko Hyhy Bracelet Jarrolds £29, Flower Tote Orla Kiely Bag £269, Peep Shoe Office £35, Maisie Dress Wrap London £159, Macrame Earrings Toast £45, Filet a Provisions €10, Covered Strap Sandals Swedish Hasbeens £155

I've been working - not in product galleries, where I usually work - but on department, or category, pages recently. In my vocabulary, department pages are pages containing links to product galleries, content, and a few, well-selected products. For a grocer, 'dairy' might be a department page. It would link to milk, butter, yogurt...; it might tell a story about a supplier, or give a recipe for Arctic roll; and some specialty cheeses might be featured.

It's been very interesting applying my usual ways of working to a different area - seeing where they were sufficient, where they were lacking. I naturally found myself considering clicks and sales, and comparing to similar pages on our site and on competitors' sites. My colleagues suggested I look at the evolution of the page over the last few years and search data from various sources, and also that I speak to other functions dealing with this department (customer services to be aware of common customer queries, etc). It's definitely taught me things to take back to my galleries.

I was keen to learn more, so I spent a while studying the websites below. Apart from that, holidays have been very much on my mind recently - we just can't decide where to go this year: Barcelona, for tapas and culture, some Italian cities, a Mediterranean island with markets and sleepy villages, Normandy for the romantic coast... Or somewhere more adventurous. This probably explains the selection of products above and the sites I studied!

The closest thing to department pages are probably the areas of the site devoted to sixteen destinations and the neighbourhoods comprising them: an attractive view of the suggested holiday spot stretches across the top of these pages, overlaid with a short description. Under this, there are some practical tips, a list of characteristics the place is known for, and some locals' likes and dislikes (I'm not sure how these have been gathered but they are entertaining!). After this, you have images of three neighbourhoods with selling sobriquets and four key features underneath. And at the bottom, there is a comprehensive list of all sixteen neighbourhoods. I think that brevity works brilliantly here. Choosing where to go on holiday and where to stay can be overwhelming, so not overdoing the information is clever.

Otherwise, there was a page listing eighteen destinations deemed doable-in-a-weekend from London. For each destination, you had a slideshow of images, traveltime, reasons to visit and three potential places to stay, followed by a link to all properties.
And on the home page, there were beautiful images of eight cities, two with suggested activities (relax, indulge, party in ...) and two with suggested accommodation. When you clicked on these images, you immediately reached a list of properties.

In fact, I would say that one of the most remarkable things about this site was how quickly you were directed to a list of accommodation or a search result. If you exclude explaining the concept (because links to 'how to travel/host' pages were very prominent), this seemed very much the site's main function; yet it remained engaging and inspiring.

I wanted to compare Airbnb to the websites of some hotel chains. While there were a lot of pages detailling promotions, benefits and services, I was interested to find relatively few department pages. I thought I might have seen pages for city hotels, seaside hotels, airport hotels, etc, but again I saw search bars. Perhaps the majority of customers have a destination in mind when they arrive at the site (a particular city, because they are attending a wedding there, for instance), so departments like this would be redundant. Perhaps the aim of these sites is to convince visitors to opt for this chain over another. Pages for types of hotels could please some customers though, I can't help feeling.

Ibis had something resembling department pages because, since late 2011, their hotels have been broken down into the Ibis, Ibis Styles and Ibis Budget sub-brands.

Each page has a carousel displaying various benefits of the brand/sub-brand. To the right of this is a very prominent booking tool. Then we see quite a simple list of their most popular destinations, the price threshold of each and a link to a map of all their locations.

Slightly further down the page, another carousel shows glossy images and a short description of five different hotels. Finally we find content aimed at specific customers - parents, businesses - and additional benefits.

Anyway, hope you've been enjoying the first weeks of April!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Malmo - Web Merchandising Case Studies and Examples

Liebling Clogs 549Kr and Bric-a-Brac Cardigan 1099kr; Bolia Casoli chair from €199 and Quadro shelf from €399; Lindex Sunglasses £6.99 and Short Sleeve Dress £34.99; Bolia Angie pillow €49, Twiiitter table lamp €179 andGrandpa clock €65

A couple of weeks after going to Berlin, we went to Malmö (not been abroad in yonks and then we end up taking two trips in a month - strange, huh?)

I really liked Malmö - different to, but equally enjoyable as Copenhagen (I visited and wrote a post about the Danish capital a year or so ago).

Though I wanted to do a little shopping, I failed to find any interesting stores until closing time on Saturday. So I have since done some virtual retail tourism and looked up the websites of the shops I missed. I found some interesting and really attractive pages:

I spotted several outlets of a large retailer called Lindex. When I searched for them online, I found that they had opened their first British store last week.

At the top of their homepage was a large carousel displaying a message about the new store, a link to a charitable collection (there was more about this immediately below) and finally a link to the children's department. The first and second images were the same, which seemed maybe a little bit of a waste.
Simple carousels were used to good effect midway down and towards the bottom of the homepage too. In general, the CTAs were clear, directing you to product galleries, offering you the option of signing up to newsletters, etc. Clickable product names and prices and a + symbol allowed you to view products in a small pop-up.

Messages about delivery times, returns, and an offer for free delivery when you bought from a particular collection appeared in several places on the homepage. Delving deeper into the site however, there was some confusion over whether standard orders would be despatched or delivered within 4-6 days. We were told that the longer waiting times were due to their warehouse being located in Sweden, which was nice and transparent. A free click and collect service was offered, though not communicated on the homepage. The checkout was streamlined and it was possible to proceed to purchase without creating an account.

Their top navigation bar linked to three product categories, a page of new products, a lookbook (shoppable, glossy images of recent collections), and a magazine (which contained substantial fashion content and was also shoppable).

From the category pages, you could reach various subcategories, new products, future products, sustainable products and best sellers. Once you reached the products, they were logically grouped and you were able to filter by colour, size, style and brand, as well as sort by price. This area of the site was very strong.

One small thing I would say is that their Google snippet details how customers have 30 days' right to withdraw from purchase. It would be good if eventually it was more descriptive of the substance of the site.

I have seen a couple of Bolia's in Northern Europe and always been intrigued by their statement shop design (vertical gardens, altar-like cash-desks...) Their website proved to be as interesting as their stores.

If Lindex reused one image for the first and second position of the carousel at the top of their homepage, Bolia went one step further. The two images on their carousel contained no furniture - both were striking, black and white photographs of people, one linking to a new collection, the other explaining delivery.

The website was built around coloured rectangles. The colours made the pages vibrant and showed white furniture to its advantage. In product galleries, the rectangle-design meant that certain articles could be four-times the size of others, and that  messages could be inserted, without looking out of place.

The most prominent categories were sofas, living room, home office, dining, storage and accessories. Nice, context images were used for categories and sub-categories, whereas product pictures were simpler. In product galleries, you were able to refine by price and design.

Product pages contained information about the designer, some inspiration on how the product might look at home and some additional products, said to be recommended by the designer.

A pop-up allowed you to find out delivery times. The cost of delivery however was visible only at checkout.

There was a lot of rich content - an inspiration page (with lookbooks, descriptions of the collections...), a page about their designers, a page with information and beautiful photos/videos of their stores, an Instagram feed, a match-making page (!)

All this made for a really aspirational site, but one that could perhaps do with a 
tiny bit more polish.

We arrived at Liebling (meaning favourite, or darling, in German, I think) at 5.35 on Saturday, so my experience of the physical store was limited to pressing my nose disappointedly against the window as they cashed up. All the same, I got a strong, positive impression of colourful, well-constructed products and half-modern half-vintage decor, everything with its own particular beauty. The website really captured this feeling and for the site of a boutique, it was well-designed and well-maintained.

The presentation of categories and subcategories at the top of the homepage was elegant, though it didn't follow the most logical order perhaps - they sold a lot of children's products for example but that category didn't have a terribly prominent position.  There were however useful links to news, a product listing sorted by brand, an edited selection of favourite pieces and Liebling's own production. Product galleries were organised and the quality of the imagery was fairly high.

Several products appeared in multiple galleries - more whimsical homeware under children as well as home for example - increasing their exposure.

On the product pages, some good further products were suggested under the item you were looking at - functionally and stylistically similar.

A delivery offer was highlighted (free within Sweden over 1000Kr spend) but I don't believe you could see the actual delivery price except on the ts and cs page.

Finally, there was a wordpress blog of cute and useful posts, which linked to particular products and powerfully conveyed the spirit of the store.

Hope you've had a less tiring start to the week than I have!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Berlin - Web Merchandising Case Studies and Examples

MCM Game On! Diamond Land! Bag, Mykita Dionne Frames, Berghain 10 Anniversary Book €30, Type Hype Set of 3 Notebooks €47 and Porcelain Plate, Bowl & Cup €149

I wasn't able to spend much time shopping in Germany (we spent most of Saturday just admiring the city and on Sunday everything was closed). But I did spot some beautiful shops and have since looked them up online, as a sort of virtual tourist. None of the websites were a let-down. Here are my thoughts: 

Type Hype - The homepage was very engaging with links to favourite products, new designs, a gift finder, a product generator (you select the typeface(s) and product type(s) and it spells a word of your choice in products - so much fun!), inspirational information about producers... All the images were large and glossy, and you could swipe between them. 
It was easy to navigate deeper and, once you found what you were looking for, the products were logically and attractively ordered, with appealing articles always appearing on the top. Encouraging messages about shipping, etc. were inserted between products. There were some small mistranslations (motives instead of motifs threw me for a second) but overall this did little to detract from a beautiful site.

Walther Koenig - The site design was nice and clean, with relevant categories on the top navigation bar - bookshop, special offers, publishing, antiquarian -  a side bar giving details of events, linking to articles under 10€, etc. and two banners  promoting specific, interesting products. 
Calls to action could have be clearer (I accidentally started downloading something - an upcoming catalogue). And unfortunately I found no way to browse. 'Bookshop' presented 9 books - with a range of price points and detailed images - but you couldn't click 'more'; there seemed to be no way to reach their extensive catalogue. It may have been a bug, or to do with the browser I was using, of course. On the upside, search was good. 

Mykita - This site was laden with lovely, detailed content, which might partly be because it has to be quite business-customer facing. The homepage presented lookbooks, campaign makings-of, details of collaborations with other brands... There was a blog, which posted their pressbook, for instance. 
The top categories in the navigation bar were the different areas of the range - Sun, Optical, Collabs, Sport. Within these, you were presented a mix of purchasable and non-purchasable products. Alternatively, you could select eShop from the bottom of the nav bar, to view only products that were available to buy. I think this could confuse some customers. 
As far as I could see, products were mainly ordered alphabetically, which is maybe not super-commercial, though you could filter very well. The inclusion of product features, brand background and design awards was exemplary. And on every product page (and there are very, very many product pages), there was a video of the relevant glasses worn by a fresh-faced model. 

MCM - From the homepage, there were clear, prominent links to several areas of eShop, which is certainly not always the case. Otherwise, the relevant navigation bar categories were Men, Women, Travel and Gifts. The first subcategory of most of these was Explore and Discover, which presented selected products, editorial content, etc. - nice if you were just browsing. 
To select some further subcategories at random: in Women's Accessories the products were grouped by type, and, when viewed on a smartphone at least, the colours drew you further down the page most effectively; Women's Bags were grouped by design and then model, which was sometimes slightly detrimental to the overall look. Filtering and sorting options were extensive and clear.
At the top of the Gifts page, there were two large images linking to exactly the same place, which seemed a bit of a wasted opportunity. Then there were links to two 'whimsical'/classic collections. I couldn't find a way to shop these collections - all I could do was view lookbook imagery - though that might have been me being obtuse. 
Overall, a good page for a fashion accessory brand.

I hope you liked my little virtual tour (!) - enjoy the rest of your week.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

14th Feb

Julianne Silk Cami and Short £45 and £39, Catherine Tough, Lambswool Gold Elephant Socks £22, Simone Perèle Joy Bra and Shorts £70 and £45 , Wacoal Embrace Lace Chemise £51, Mimi Holliday Flamingo Bra and Knickers £40 and £39, Eberjey Playsuit £72, Cos Cashmere Socks £17

I'm working up to a post about what I saw in Berlin, but, in the meantime, I thought I'd offer some thoughts on a lingerie site and the merchandising they went with before Valentine's Day. I looked at their mobile site, not their desktop, so that you're aware.
First category offered on the homepage was, naturally enough, Valentine's.
Then you had Lingerie, Dd+ and Erotic.
I feel they could perhaps have prioritised the links Sets (their set finder tool is good) and Gifts (they have a great asset that suggest gifts for different personality-types (luxury-lover, someone who appreciates home comforts...) and different occasions (from wedding to date-night - I've not been getting gifts on date-night - going to have to have a word!) 
If you navigated through to Lingerie, Babydolls, and Basques, Bustiers & Corsets were both above Bras - which seemed quite Valentine's-relevant. There were also links to News, Trends and SS15 Collections - if you were in need of some inspiration.
In the News section, I didn't feel there was a Valentine's focus - the top products were more 'everyday', than 'special'. In the Nightwear News, the products at the top were mainly jersey and very casual.
Good sorting/filtering  made up for the lack of initially relevant ordering. You could sort according to price, brand, rating, popularity and newness. And you had the option to filter by size, colour, material, cup (padded/nonpadded/underwired), if the article came in a set....
So all in all, it would have been a pleasant, if not impeccable, experiencing purchasing a gift for a loved one on this site. Hope you had a good Valentine's!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Re. Reporting

SFK Frou-Frou Super Deluxe Camera Strap $95, Cos Melange Knit Hit £13 (down from £25), & Other Stories Short Leather Gloves £23 (down from £45), Surface to Air Le Baron Boots £105 (down from £350) at Avenue, Christopher Raeburn Arctic Print Rucksac £250 (down from £499) at

I have been looking with fresh eyes at some of our reporting since the start of the year.

Before Christmas, I began adding some formulas to a spreadsheet we use each week - reducing the number of vlookups and original entries we have to insert. Since week one, I've been testing it and last week showed it to some colleagues. Luckily, they were enthusiastic and we will atttempt to integrate it into our weekly routine. All going well, it'll save a lot of trouble identifying products that are missing from our pages.

Another thing I really want to look at, is how I determine whether a product/category has done as well as it should have in any given week.

Just asking if product/category sales are better than in the previous week is too simplistic, so I started comparing to average sales over the past few weeks.
But sales are always going to go up and down. If stylish underwear sells well in the weeks before Valentine's day and the less well again toward the end of February, I need to be aware when I'm looking at my figures. I don't want to be attributing the trend erroneously, and I don't want to be thinking it will last longer than it will.
So some historic data should be taken into account, but then a direct comparison may not be valid either - everything might be selling better/worse than last year.

My instincst say that looking at percentage share of sales would be good (the product's percentage share of its category, the category's percentage share of total sales).
I could compare percentage share this year to percentage share last year - but then I'm not taking into account range changes. We might have invested more in, say, sports underwear this year, and so share of sales might naturally be higher.

Ideally, I think I would be comparing the difference between this week and last week's share to the difference between this week last year and last week last year's share.
This should tell me if a product/category is improving or not, and help me decide where to work next. I think the only thing that would skew these figures would be very recent launches of new products/ranges. 

I'm mulling all this over, because - on a SKU by SKU level at least - it's a lot of work. Fun project though!

On a different note, I am - excitingly and excitedly - about to go to Berlin. So above you have some chilly city site-seeing gear.

Have a great week.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

New Resolutions 2

Sweaty Betty - Om Yoga Vest £45, Virasana Yoga Bra £38, Dynamic Yoga Leggings £65; Marks and Spencer - Reflective Jacket £55, Gym Slim Sports Bra £28, Graphic Print Leggings £25; Ballet Beautiful Wrap Top £ 145, Live the Process Sports Bra £60 and Paneled Printed Leggings £105 all at Net-A-Porter

Just after Christmas, I discussed my resolutions for the next year at work. New beginnings seem to be top of everyone's mind right now. All the retailers are talking about detox diets and exercise regimes, kicking bad habits and picking up new skills, purging and enriching...

I've been revisiting all my pages and finding lots to improve upon. What felt right in the autumn just doesn't now (circumstances change of course, and the changes you make, bring about the need for more changes). New opportunities have opened up. And, while some pages have less potential at the moment, they can still be tidied up and put to bed for a while.
Lots to be getting on with!

I wanted to see if I could spot any other merchandising that was starting a-fresh this spring -

First, a book-seller: I compared their current homepage to their homepage in early December. Certain things remained the same, certain things had changed.
They led with the same four categories - Children's, Fiction, Crime, and Food and Drink - and the same images represented these categories. After this however, 4 'New & Bestselling' volumes replaced 8 'Christmas & Best-sellers'.
Both pages ended with 4 'Favourite' books and 8 Category links (to Gifts and some non-book departments), but since December, 3 Books of the Month have been inserted before the 'Favorites'.

At the moment, several of the featured books have a healthy-eating focus. There's also a noticeable presence of film-related books - because it's Awards Season, no doubt. This was not the case before Christmas.

Currently, a carousel sends you to a page dedicated to New Year's New Starts - with some recent releases at the top and then links to healthy eating, money and DIY, travel guides, language tutorials, even juicing and non-alcoholic beverage books!
The first product on the Food & Drink page is about 'The Art of Eating Well'; on the Home & Gardening page it's 'The Life-changing Magic of Tidying'!

Second, a supermarket: when I looked at their site at the start of December side-by-side with their site now, I saw similar categories but different images - spring flowers instead of wreaths and red bouquets, glasses of rose instead of flutes of champagne. Healthy-eating tips, ways to save money on food and nutritious recipes replaced links to Christmas products, decoration inspiration, gift guides and festive recipes.The carousel contained deals, deals on healthier ready-meals and even a month weight-loss regime.
Products you could consider 'healthy' - ingredients, snacks and meals - are pretty prominent throughout the site. Links to Muesli & Granola and Couscous have the same level of focus as Flour and Oils & Vinegar. Subcategories such as Specialist & Health Food appear much higher up drop-downs than I would have expected.

I also considered some sports brands - which presented new collections, particularly winter running ranges, along with ways to get fit and platforms for sharing exercise-experiences.

Department stores featured links to and content on fitness; while health and beauty stores had offers and rewards on health products.

In the collage above, you can see what I would pick, if I could splurge on some new kit to support my get-fit resolution!