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.

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