Redefining Commerce: OluKai - Selling Shoes, Selling a Lifestyle
by Taryn Collins
I discovered the OluKai brand a couple of years ago when my brother bought a pair of OluKai sandals, and lived in them for an entire summer. Nearly daily proclamations of enthusiasm and excitement over that single pair of sandals soon had me looking at the brand website and buying a pair for myself. Much like my Brother, I immediately fell in love, and have been a strong brand advocate ever since. But it’s not just the sandals I fell in love with, it’s the lifestyle that OluKai embodies. It made me want to emulate that in my own life.
OluKai sells a stylish, comfortable, and high-quality product, but their true appeal isn’t in the shoes they sell, it’s in the lifestyle. Anywhere Aloha. “Aloha was born in Hawaii, but it is a spirit not bound by geography,” says a tagline on their website, splattered across pages full of vivid imagery, video, and faces of real people with real names, sharing their real-life stories of Aloha. OluKai is a brand that not only tells an engaging story, but aims to truly enhance your life. Their website features the most seamless integration of gorgeous, engaging content I’ve seen. Scrolling through their Anywhere Aloha stories - The Explorers, The Surfers, The Artists - it feels much less like an ecommerce sales experience, and much more of a PSA for living a happy life. And I’d venture to bet that the idea of selling happiness is a pretty lucrative one.
They also have a community page, which further promotes engaging stories. These are not necessarily stories about OluKai customers, but of individuals who are impacting their own local communities in some positive way. “There are those who lead by simply doing. Those who do not stray from challenging paths-- who inspire others to follow despite the obstacles. For them, work is more important than mere words and kuleana (responsibility) to generations past and to those yet arrived is a guiding light.” They make a point to discuss real life, real issues, real situations, and real people without the mention of product or the intent to sell. At the end of the day, of course they want to move product -- they are a retail company after all -- but they’re also so much more than that.
Beyond their exceptional and robust content offerings, their ecommerce experience is simple and straight-forward. Product pages are crisp and clean, and this is where you will find product images, product specs, and customer reviews are front and center. There is no fluff or extra flair, just an expert, yet easy, shopping experience.
- Promote a lifestyle. If your product evokes some sort of idyllic lifestyle, encourage your customers to live it! Nothing sells a product better than a customer being able to visualize the product as a part of their everyday life.
- Immersive Imagery. Product and lifestyle images are the new norm for an excellent ecommerce experience, so finding a way to cut through the clutter is key. OluKai uses their graphics to paint a picture of this idyllic world that makes customers want to jump in and live it… with a pair of OluKai sandals on their feet, of course.
- Live in the moment. The timing of this post -- just before Father’s Day, gave us a great perspective on OluKai’s execution of a holiday marketing campaign, and they hit it out of the park. Their homepage is covered with Father’s Day features, promoting quotes, stories, and products all about Dads.
- Customer stories. Product reviews are great, but what about real people sharing real stories about how they live with and interact with a product? Where reviews might feel structured and generic, stories feel real and engaging. I don’t need to tell you which of those is preferable.
Now please excuse me while I get ready for summer and buy my summer OluKais…
This blog series - Redefining Commerce - highlights retail brands that are elevating traditional online commerce experiences, pushing the boundaries of what it means to be an online retailer, and delivering unparalleled consumer experiences.