Welcome to the Brand.com Dream

This is the first blog of the FITCH Brand.com blog series, which explores how a brand’s website can function beyond a simple transaction, and tap into the Dreaming mindstate to become a meaningful experience filled with delight and discovery. Chloe Lam, Senior Strategist at FITCH London, kicks us off!

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Credit: Unsplash

The Retail industry is one of the hardiest industries of all; it is the weathervane for global and local trends and behaviours, across many layers and triggers. And it’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has pivoted a majority of the retail industry online. Web-based retail orders are up 55% this month alone, and over 40% of customers are expected to continue to shop online more frequently after the outbreak.

But bar a handful of best practice sites, the joy of shopping is all too often lost online. Consumers are met with a cross-category sea of sameness — an army of digital warehouses, rather than a high street of Experience Flagships. The templated approach we see now follows the footsteps of successful sites like Amazon. It works, but it’s not exciting. It’s convenient, but not memorable.

How can brands flip the functional .com into a meaningful experience; a Brand.com?

When people visit a .com, its usually to order a product that they need — a new pair of trainers for example. This type of shopper mission is one of three outlined in the FITCH DEL missions framework: ‘Dreaming’, ‘Exploring’ and ‘Locating’.

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While ‘Dreaming’, the consumer is the most open-minded and most open to being inspired. This could be someone who is killing time while they stay at home, browsing fitness trends, or just looking up new recipes. They may purchase, but only if they are inspired. An ‘Exploring’ shopper already has purchase intent in mind and wants to get the right amount of information to validate. The ‘Locating’ shopper has done their research — they’re ready to buy and go straight to the search bar to do so as easily as possible.

Today, people are going online for so much more — more inspiration, more fun, more escapism. Nearly 70% of customers say their standards for ‘a good experience’ are higher than ever, whether that’s online or in person. They voice that online shopping doesn’t foster human connection or allow for immersion. And while almost 80% of customers expect personal attention, only 23% says their needs for personalisation are met on .com. In a recent OnePulse survey of UK and US consumers, a respondent specifically noted the lack of “freedom to wander and discover things” online.

With .com currently focusing on the Exploring and Locating missions, Dreaming is being overlooked. In turn, key business benefits are being overlooked.

Brands must start widening their scope of success from sales in-the-moment, to customer experience ‘on site’ and beyond. When this happens, commerciality follows. As early as 2011, the International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management found a direct link between social, interactive and engaging online shopping to overall satisfaction, sales and traffic.

At FITCH we know that meeting Dreaming missions not only increases dwell time and conversion, but also encourages frequent revisits and boosts NPS and advocacy.

Take Glossier.com. True to its roots as a beauty blog, the brand uses its website to champion inspiration in a community-centric way. Exploring and Locating missions are fulfilled through user reviews, product demos and streamlined purchase processes, but its attention to Dreamers is what sets it apart. The overarching thread of ‘In Real Life’ runs throughout the website, highlighting beauty inspiration. The iconic pink packaging is sprinkled throughout the experience, adding to the ‘insider’ tone that pervades its community. Customers don’t just exit the site with a product on its way, but leave this brand.com experience enriched with more inspiration, knowledge, and a sense of community — just like they would at a physical Experience Flagship.

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Credit: Glossier

NOVA Smart Home is another example of a Brand.com which creates differentiation through features which tap into Dreaming mindstate. Borrowing from physical showroom experiences, its 3D animated microsite reinvents what product demonstration could look like, online. It moves away from the templated format of a stockpiled warehouse and welcomes visitors into a playground of discovery. Products like smart home devices and lighting are placed in a relevant dollhouse context. Seasonality changes in real-time, adding another layer of delight for the Dreamer, and purchase validation for the Explorer. Customers learn more about the brand and products, before exiting with a sense of delight and wonder.

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Every .com has the potential to become a Dreaming destination; a flagship experience for the brand. The functional online warehouse experience may work for now, but with no meaningful differentiation, it will quickly become a race to the bottom.

As we look to the short-term and long-term futures of retail, designing an online experience around the Dreaming mindstate is both a paramount consideration and a limitless aspiration for brands.

In the next blog of the Brand.com series, we will look at how brands can design their online experiences around the Dreaming mission.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to book in your brand’s Dreaming, Exploring, Locating audit with our Chief Strategy Officer Morgan Holt — get in touch: hello@fitch.com

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FITCH is a global design consultancy. Designing the Future. Online, offline and in person.

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