With the prevalence of mobile being stronger than ever, it is commonplace for users to switch (or swipe, as I should say) quickly between platforms and still expect the same level of service that they would receive had they walked into a store. This puts a lot of pressure on brands to perform seamlessly across multi-channel platforms in order to satisfy their customers. And if they don’t? Then they don’t make any money.
With net sales of $835 million last year, it is quite clear that NET-A-PORTER have this sussed1. I therefore thought it may be useful to take a look at their multi-million dollar approach to see what we can learn. So here is the first part of a multi-part series in Multi-Channel marketing, eCommerce Marketing and Social Media Marketing strategy lessons from the luxury fashion retailer.
NET-A-PORTER, An Analysis
The inspiration for this investigation came from seeing the NET-A-PORTER sale from one of their many social media profiles on my phone and going onto my laptop to investigate (see, a multi-channel and multi-device user journey already). Although impressed with the reductions, what actually got my attention came days later when I received my purchased item, with a tape measure and a blank size guide card!
If the notion of receiving a tape measure unexpectedly does not excite you then please let me explain. The branded tape measure allows customers to accurately log their sizes in both centimetres and inches on the size guide card. This means that when it comes to their next purchase, the deliberating of what size to get and whether it will fit and the ‘should I really buy it?’ is reduced because they know their measurements already.
Tip number 1: A size guide on any eCommerce clothing site is absolutely essential in encouraging conversions: if a user cannot try the items on they need to have an accurate idea of which size will fit them, or they won’t buy it.
What NET-A-PORTER have done really well here is push multi-channel boundaries further, branching out into the physical world to give the consumer a more tangible, reliable and, therefore, trustworthy, shopping experience.
A website ahead of it’s time
NET-A-PORTER.com launched in 2000 as a revolutionary step forward in luxury shopping. With no physical store, these high-end fashion collections are only available direct from this eCommerce site. The brand prides itself on ‘impeccable packaging and unrivalled customer care’; which was something of a first for a time when shopping online was not trusted by all. Now however, eCommerce websites are difficult to avoid, yet they are still tricky to get right.
You can learn exactly how NET-A-PORTER have mastered it, and how you can too, in the second part of this investigation: NET-A-PORTER: Seamless Integrated Marketing Part II. To make sure you don’t miss it sign up for our email.
The rise of the eCommerce app
Apps are becoming more and more popular with the global penetration of smartphones, and can be thought of as the natural evolution of a website. For NET-A-PORTER they have created a shopping interface specifically for seamless mobile shopping. Complete with sumptuous imagery, you can browse thousands of designers and fashion categories, add items to your wish list or shopping bag and make a purchase then and there much easier than on their website.
The creation of a NET-A-PORTER app shows a deliberate move to target their busy customers. Their target market is most certainly fashionable, savvy ladies (& men) likely to be working long hours, commuting in and around cities or with several devices they flit between daily. By being available in every form on each, the luxury retailer is making it very convenient to buy from them.
While it is not expected for all eCommerce fashion sites to be able to develop an app, it is a good idea to know where technology is heading and to understand the demands this places on your business. For the moment, having a responsive website, at least, is essential now that mobile-friendliness is a certified algorithm factor.
Where I think NET-A-PORTER has really outdone itself on the eCommerce front is to go completely offline too. Glossy magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Harpers Bazaar play a huge part in the fashion industry, so by putting NET-A-PORTER out there on this more traditional offline platform exposes the brand to a totally new audience that could otherwise not be reached.
The fact that you can scan your copy of Porter magazine and buy products in the app immediately shows how far shopping standards have come. This specialised and instant way of shopping, or in some cases, reading (there is also a Magazine app where you can flick (swipe) through their glossy editorial whilst on your mobile or tablet) can even make typing in ‘w w w’ seem laborious.
What makes this such a valuable asset to their eCommerce marketing strategy is that they are showcasing the setting for their products, with the lifestyle and travel pieces, the glossy photography of the full outfits and how good they look, but in a non-promotional way. This subtly shows readers how fabulous the products are and directly points them to the only place to get them all: NET-A-PORTER.com, or in their app(s).
Although most eCommerce sites cannot afford to fully embrace every marketing channel available, the lesson that should be learnt here is: understanding your customers’ needs will shape your overall strategy around them, which guarantees success.
So, if you cannot afford to start your own international magazine or develop an app, why not simply look into your audience’s life offline, their online buying habits and bring that into your eCommerce strategy.
Next: NET-A-PORTER: A Case Of Seamless Integrated Marketing Part II