Good online visual merchandising is a key factor in the success of any brand or retailer. Email newsletters and website homepages have just three seconds to catch and retain the attention of a consumer. Here are the key visual merchandising trends were seeing during June and July 2013.
1. Stark & Static
Set against neutral white or grey backgrounds, models are shot in stark light and devoid of expression. The effect is an artistic feel, spotlighting unfussy design and good fabrication, with 100% focus on the featured garments. These shots lend themselves to clean, well designed email newsletters and glossy homepages. This trend spans the market segments most clearly linked to high end (shown here at Acne), our database evidences the techniques employment throughout premium (All Saints) and through to mass (Uniqlo), where the style gives a designer collaboration added value.
2. Illustration & Collage
Consumers' inboxes are bombarded daily with retail newsletters, most of which follow a set formula and in doing so are read and discarded in seconds, if opened at all. An exciting move towards illustrated or collaged merchandising rewrites the throwaway nature of such campaigns. Quirky and often humour-tinged, these campaigns have depth and surface interest which transcends their digital interface.
Reflecting brand, the doodles at Herms are light, hand drawn and expensive. Alice + Olivia use a mix of paint and collage to add interest and character to what would otherwise be a monochromatic product email. A looser scrapbook feel is created by Top shop and Urban Outfitters befit of their youth customer. This trend instantly makes a campaign more intriguing and shareable.
3. Extreme Colour
Colour saturated email campaigns sound like an obvious way of catching reader's attention, but until recently trends have been more focused on pared back and carefully edited colour usage. A riot of colour, with clashing products and neon bursts has come through in late summer visuals. Paul Smith campaigns are worthy of a special mention for their mouth-watering colours, which make the flat format almost tactile. This style translates well to homepages, as shown in Boohoo's 3rd June update. If clashing colours isn't on brand, My Wardrobe offers a striking alternative, with their single-toned melon spread.
With the rise of the retail editor selecting content worthy of a magazine spread, comes the curated email format. This style goes beyond the flat blogger-style layouts we've seen in the last two years, adding a greater air of importance with 'Editor's Choice' terminology. These are persuasive, yet easily achieved, devices available to the breadth of the market. Hit List emails carry the same kind of pre-purchase validation as the Back in Stock categories we discussed last month. Boldly numbering products within a hit list guides the reader's eye down the email, retaining their attention.
5. Subtle Sales
In a backlash against the spammy nature of splashy red sales campaigns comes a more refined approach to promoting sales. At first glance, this type of campaign may not scream discounting, veering away from the traditional sales palette or phrasing. This is a great way for luxury and premium brands and retailers to maintain their prestige - just look to Burberry's example of quality (below). Net-a-Porter's sales email looks very similar to their normal communications, using the same fonts and colouring; it's only upon closer inspection that you realise you're looking at "Sale hits". In a climate where competitive price slashing seems endless, this is a strategic way of retaining brand dignity and differentiating amongst an over-vocal market.
Apart from these most prevalent visual merchandising trends, it's also worth mentioning the formats which bridge the online/offline disconnect. Both Tory Burch and All Saints have recently sent out email campaigns which refer to 'Events'. In Tory Burch's case the 'Summer Event' email of the 28th June was an online discounting period, and All Saints' 18th June email alerted consumers to a music event at their LA flagship - which could be followed by live stream. Extra footage was added to the site to include their online customers in the fun - a very neat way to merge store and online.
Our software captures every visual merchandising output from hundreds of global brands and retailers, archiving their newsletters and site updates whilst plotting activity onto a yearly retail calendar. This capability gives our clients an exact understanding of movements in the market, and combined with our retail monitoring, allows instant understanding of well how products featured in campaigns are performing.
This article was originally published in Editd.com on 12th July 2013.