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!

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