Last night I was bouncing from blog to blog when I came across the french e–store Colette. Not having any prior history to the brand or their reputation my initial reaction to their online store was it makes me believe that there is an even more interesting bricks n’mortar shop there. Within a couple minutes of mentioning that a friend asked what do you like about that e-shop? I didn’t love it particularly. One of my faves is J.Crew for navigation, browsing etc…. Since I’m always interested in unexpected mashup’s to create a new meaning I thought comparing J.Crew to Colette would be an interesting exercise.
At first glance it might be fair to say each site is designed particularly well for their intended audience. J.Crew is slightly more affluent on the professional side while Colette is more aspirational on the younger side. Keeping that in mind is important because it allows me to get the user segmentation out of the way of who’s better—neither, they’re just different. But as I was clicking around Colette there were some observations worth noting that I didn’t see with J.Crew that I think are worth thinking about.
For the longest time real stores didn’t have much of an online presence. Some would still claim those flash microsites haven’t really helped do much to enhance brands either. On the other side was Amazon which wasn’t pretty but you could buy almost anything online very quickly, but they didn’t have any physical assets like a storefront. Today stores like J.Crew get the fact that an easy online presence is going to help their online sales front immensly. But it’s so clean that I have to question why I would bother ever going to their physical store again? It’s a strange rational but when I compare it to Colette I’m wondering if their online site is kind of exploratory in a non frustrating way, I’d be really curious to see what their physical store is like. It’s an inverse of the offline and online retailer. The physical places are going to try to squeeze into the digital while the digital want something physical.
There’s a couple other distinctions that I noticed. J.Crew is essential an online catalogue while Colette is emphasizing a lifestyle. Most sites should avoid music but with them it drew me in. I’m actually listening to their site as I do this post. Their music choice goes a long way as part of their curation of what they like. Their curation is magnified with the choice products while J.Crew is stuck showing all their stuff together. Maybe it’s just me but a person should rarely dress head to foot in the same brand. But that’s all J.Crew can push.
So if I take a bunch of elements like exploration + music + lifestyle + curation & I want to visit their store, and compare that to an online catalogue, who has the better experience?