I Came for a Purple Jacket, but All I Got Was Pretty Pictures
by Sasa Zelenovic
I needed a fall jacket. Something lightweight and colorful. My online search led me to Paul Smith’s autumn/winter collection. I clicked through some of the beautiful pictures and came across a purple jacket (center right) - totally my style!
I tried to purchase it, but couldn’t find the buy button. So I typed “purple jacket” in the on-site search box and all sorts of irrelevant things came up. I went back to the “shop online” section to try to browse for it. Still no luck. My jacket was nowhere to be found.
I got frustrated and Paul Smith lost a sale. We’ve all been here, and for better or worse, we’ve been frustrated with this disjointed content and commerce experience.
I’ve never heard of Paul Smith before, and I probably wouldn't have last week if Google hadn’t direct me to his website. For fashion designers and fashionistas, Paul Smith needs no introduction. He has won numerous international fashion awards and was recognized as the British menswear icon by Queen Elizabeth II herself! Just like many other luxury brands, Paul Smith has a rich brand story rooted in its heritage. Many luxury brands struggle to translate their brand story into an online shopping experience and PaulSmith.co.uk is no different.
Paul Smith’s brand story is online however. Check out #PaulSmith on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. You will find thousands of comments and beautiful photos evangelizing the brand. There is a story to be told, and while it’s being told through social media and some content sections of PaulSmith.co.uk, it’s yet to be integrated into the commerce experience. The site itself is beautiful and interactive, especially the “Collections” (where I found my awesome purple jacket) and “Paul Smith World” sections. However, as portrayed by the frustration I (and likely many others) experienced, the UX falls flat. The beautiful content gives the site a luxury feel; however, it doesn’t support the consumers goal of purchasing the right product for them.
PaulSmith.co.uk is a prime example of a brand that suffers from what Forrester Research calls the “Two-Site Syndrome.” All commerce-related content on the site is run by Magento while the non-commerce content is managed through Drupal CMS. If you click “Collections” in the navigation bar, you are taken from Magento to Drupal, and your experience changes. Don’t get me wrong, Magento is a great commerce platform, but it’s commerce-first, and not designed for luxury sites that need to be content-first. In that same report, Forrester also goes on to say that organizations that have a collaborative approach to technology see improvements in all metrics, from conversions to brand engagement. Paul Smith’s team absolutely has the right vision: They see the need to add contextual content to their site. They definitely possess the tools to do so: Magento plus Drupal is the right combination. However, these two systems are currently not working hand-in-hand like they could, resulting in a disjointed content and commerce experience - a frustration for customers! And Paul Smith is not alone - Hermes, Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss … the list goes on.
When it comes to online brand experience, Paul Smith and his website design team have set out the right vision. But, what can they do better to enhance the consumer experience and ultimately increase conversions and the bottom line?
- Marry content and commerce. If consumers see a design they like, they should be able to purchase it in the context of the content experience. This is currently not possible within “Collections” section of PaulSmith.co.uk, where consumers see beautiful designs, but aren’t able to purchase without clicking back and searching through the entire online catalogue. By better integrating Drupal into Magento, the site could easily achieve this.
- Pull in user generated content to inspire consumers. This will make them feel they are part of the brand. Many sites have the “share now” functionality; however, pulling content directly from social media into the site is the next step. Remember all those beautiful brand pictures found under #PaulSmith? They should be integrated into the commerce experience, so users can get inspired to make a purchase within context! A few shares and likes/favorites later, they will ultimately become repeat customers.
- Make the on-site search experience more effective. According to Econsultancy, 30% of commerce site visitors use the on-site search box. What’s more interesting … these shoppers are four to five times more likely to convert into customers. Needless to say, if Paul Smith’s search function allowed me to find my purple jacket, I would have walked away a happy customer!
- Personalize the commerce experience. Each user (anonymous or not) should be presented with content relevant to their interests. After dozens of visits to PaulSmith.co.uk, I am still presented with same exact offers. The site should have already picked up my behavioral/demographic information, including location, current weather, site searches, wishlist/cart items, etc. (all possible without creating a profile!) and presented content relevant to me. If it’s a rainy fall day in Boston, why not introduce me to a Paul Smith rain coat?
I want to leave you with a quote from Keiron McCammon, CTO/Head of Product at Moda Operandi: “If all we worried about was conversion we’d look a lot like Amazon.” The biggest differentiator for today’s brands is relevant, contextual content. But to differentiate with content, brands must adapt a unified collaboration strategy and integrate their commerce and content processes. According to a recent Forrester Research report, brands that bridge the commerce/content divide and pursue a collaborative approach “see improvements in all metrics related to commerce, from time-to-market to conversion.” Here at Acquia, we fully agree with Forrester and our mission at Acquia Commerce is to enable brands to create emotionally engaging, beautiful commerce experiences that convert. For more details, check out http://www.acquia.com/solutions/acquia-commerce.