It’s interesting to juxtapose state-of-the-art e-commerce and online storefronts with the experience of open-air markets and bazaars around the world, where people still sell goods in raw form. By that I don’t mean uncooked fruits and vegetables, but rather a whole assortment of commodities that are distinguishably different because they are displayed and sold with no form of labeling or packaging whatsoever–and if you consider it, labeling and packaging are what actually transform goods into products. Whether it’s alpaca sweaters in Peru, Pashima scarves in India, or hand-crafted jewelry in Mali, goods are sold on a small scale, everyday, without any regard to a brand strategy. But unlike small street markets around the world, the competitive reality of enterprise e-commerce means winning over customers and selling products by successfully developing and managing brand.
People are spending more time online than ever before, and given the fact that communication and distribution of information can be performed real-time, consumers are now in a unique and empowered position to engage in dialogue about a company’s products and services as part of the online retail experience. In the age of unprecedented access, a brand can be shaped or reshaped by consumer perception, and if a business doesn’t develop and manage its brand effectively, customers and clients might just do it for them.
Below are a few points to consider about a relationship between effective branding and thoughtful e-commerce site design. Of course there are volumes of information that have been written about this topic, but these are just some highlights that come to mind when considering strong brand presence, design, and site interaction.
Expectations and Differentiation
The playing field is far from level. Some of the things that used to set a business apart from its competitors, like great customer service, or a safe, secure checkout process, are now often perceived as standard features. These days, potential customers and clients come loaded with expectations. A world-class e-commerce storefront needs not only to meet those expectations, but also to provide something that differentiates the site from competitors. The site needs to exceed expectations. Whether it be unique depth of product information, for example, or a superior user experience, site development teams need to work with the client to identify and then emphasize a set of strengths in order to build an enterprise e-commerce site that will draw new business and convert site visits into closed sales. As author Jack Trout states in his book, Brand Strategist, “Consumers today are faced with an explosion of choices. Those companies who fail to differentiate their product or service in the mind of the consumer won’t stand a chance.”
By one definition, brands are an individual’s perception of a business, and this perception will be directly impacted by the kind of encounter a person has with an e-commerce site. By understanding the needs of its customers, a company can customize its site in order to generate a positive experience. Whether it means including sizing guides for apparel, multiple product images or custom flash animation, our designers generate ideas that embody the goals of a branding strategy, and then execute on those ideas superbly. Consumers now demand a personalized experience, and HotWax Media can help craft a differentiated brand through a design process that delivers an engaging and meaningful experience with the consumer very specifically in mind.
Aesthetics and Details
To a degree, our culture is driven by beauty and appearance, and as material creatures we often base judgments first and foremost on how things look. Understanding this reality means it’s important to pique a visitor’s interest the moment she arrives at a site by integrating the brand with broader site design elements. Spending the time to marry the look and quality of the site with the brand message produces an enhanced user experience and adds value to the consumer experience. Brand is defined by perception, and the collective brand experience is about captivating your audience so they don’t want to think about anyone else.
One of the best ways to establish and enhance brand identity is to listen to customers, and over the years HotWax Media has taken great pride in developing word-class enterprise e-commerce sites by creating meaningful and user friendly designs based on the needs of our clients and their consumers. Understanding the concepts that build brand strength gives our team a competitive edge when it comes to translating ideas into meaningful projects that will help drive interaction and conversion.
HotWax Media understands the importance of positioning in a competitive environment, so if you’re looking to implement site changes in order to build, strengthen, or incorporate a brand strategy, we’d love to hear from you.
Jared Matkin is a staff writer for HotWax Media with a background in PR, Branding and Marketing. He’s also a light-hearted and an opinionated character who will join other HotWax Media employees and advisers in periodically posting his thoughts on topics ranging from enterprise eCommerce to business and technology.