Leverage the 3 C's Like Net-A-Porter, Lush, and Arc'teryx
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Content, community, and commerce (also know as the 3 C’s ) are what successful online retailers are using to distance themselves from the competition and satisfy the needs of modern shoppers.
The consumer's path-to-purchase has changed drastically over the last few years. Shoppers now use an average of 2 devices, view social media accounts, study user reviews, watch videos, and read blog posts before making a purchase.
Online audiences are more savvy than ever, always assessing and sifting through advertising and marketing tactics that provide no real value to the shopping experience.
Again, brands that already know this have been engaging their customers by providing quality content, good conversation through a tight knit community, and an exceptional commerce experience. They’re giving their customers what they crave: value and authenticity.
By utilizing the the 3 C’s, they’re creating for themselves a strong brand identity which in turn builds a loyal following of customers.
The 3 C’s, as you already know, are content, community and commerce. But you need to understand how each one can provide your customers a better user experience.
Content: You’re providing your customers with inspirational and valuable content in various means such as videos, articles, and imagery.
Community: You should be building a strong following around your products and brand values. Oftentimes this is done through the use of social media. Visitors that don’t know you will look for social validation and recommendations from your brand advocates.
Commerce: Customers demand the ability to make purchases through a great user experience and user interface. They must be able to easily buy from you anywhere, any time, and on any device. In addition, the other two C’s, content and community, can assist with building a better user experience.
So how is this done? Want to see the 3 C’s in action? While there are many online stores out there doing a fantastic job of combining content, community, and commerce there are 3 that really stand out.
Before Net-A-Porter opened its virtual doors in 2000, online luxury shopping didn’t really exist. While they’ve paved the way for other retailers, even today nobody compares to the one-stop shop for luxury brands. Just last year they raked in over $1 billion in sales. That’s because they know the kind of online experience their upscale buyers are looking for, and make good use of the 3 C’s to do so.
Every month Net-A-Porter releases a new edition of The Edit, their digital magazine. It’s free, and published in English, German, Mandarin, and French–making it accessible to international audiences.
The Edit’s articles feature high and low end designers, celebrity interviews, outfit inspiration, and more, but what’s really cool? It’s shoppable. This little change increased their mobile traffic so much, it now accounts for 40% of their overall traffic.
All you have to do is click on an item you like and a window appears with a link to the product. If the item is unavailable, you’re invited to sign up to be notified when it’s in stock. Small details like this make the user experience very enjoyable.
However, their magazine isn’t the only thing they get right. Their entire website is filled with shoppable stories with items pulled by Net-A-Porter. For example, at the moment New York Fashion Week is coming up, so a shopper may browse and click on items that belong to that story.
While higher ticket items are generally are a harder sell online, through the use of content, Net-A-Porter has brought the in-store experience to the web, making it just as fun to purchase luxury items online.
To put it plainly, the fashion industry is fickle; what’s “in” one day, is out the next. As such, Net-A-Porter’s audience are style conscious fashionistas, wanting to know the latest trends, always looking to influencers and peers for inspiration. The Net Set, Net-A-Porter’s social app provides just that.
The app features a shoppable live feed of items trending on Net-A-Porter worldwide. Members may shop within the app, comment on outfits they like, recommend looks to friends, and create a style council in which they can add 15 stylish women to a group as “mentors.” And, like Instagram, ladies may follow others, comment on their photos, and upload their own.
In addition to their app, Net-A-Porter utilizes all the traditional social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube. Across their 9 networks they currently have over 4 million followers.
As a strictly online retailer, selling high priced items to boot, Net-A-Porter soars above the competition with their eCommerce store. Through the use of content and community, they’ve made it extremely easy to make a purchase by various means; whether through their Net Set app, shoppable stories, or through their magazine The Edit.
Lush, a cosmetics and skincare company, are thee gurus of storytelling. The company, which has always focused on promoting ethical business practices, makes excellent use of content and community to boldly declare their message, all while exhibiting an exceptional commerce experience.
A major goal of their content is to get consumers questioning the current way in which the beauty industry operates, much of which is through unethical business practices. So through both their online store and app, Lush incorporates a variety of content such as editorials and videos surrounding the company’s charitable donations, values, and product.
But there’s traditional beauty content too–from how-to articles to stunning visuals and product knowledge write ups. As Lush has said themselves, “everything we do has a story.” It shows.
Lush’s best friend is social media. They are masters of networking and utilize all the different platforms to share their vibrant and unique products as well as share their stories, announce campaigns, contests, and feature customers.
And because Lush is a company with a cause, they’ve acquired quite a following of like-minded individuals who are never shy about sharing Lush's posts.
Their app also has a social media component. There’s a social tab customers may click on to see what other Lush fans are interested in, and browse through photos trending on Facebook and Instagram.
On top of all this Lush has a large forum where customers have the chance to speak openly about how they feel about certain issues, share their opinions on products, and state concerns.
Just last year, a Marketingland survey found that 90% of shoppers use their smartphone while in-store. And this is just one of hundreds of studies proving the path to purchase has changed. Lush understands that companies must unite all channels of their business to satisfy the way a consumer shops today.
This is why no matter where a customer is shopping, whether online, offline, or through their app, the user experience is seamless. In fact, Lush is so good at it, they’ve won numerous awards for both their customer service and online store.
Founded by two climbers in 1989, Arc’teryx is a company originally founded in North Vancouver that specializes in high-quality and technical outdoor clothing and sporting goods.
The sporting goods industry is huge, so standing out in an industry that produces thousands of seemingly the same items is tough. In order to break through the congested market, Arc’teryx uses content to tell their story. Through articles and videos shoppers are educated on the high level of detail and dedication that goes into every piece of clothing.
The message is clear. This stuff is made to last–whatever the wilderness throws at you. And because it’s made by climbers for climbers, there’s a level of trust consumers feel towards the brand that other enterprise sports companies just can’t emulate.
As a compliment to the website content, Arc’teryx has a separate blog with a variety of articles that feature customer stories, places to visit, product news, and event listings. There’s also a monthly edit called LITHOGRAPHICA an e-journal that curates stories about design, creativity, wild places, and inspiring people.
Arc’teryx has an app called MCR–Mountain Condition Reports. While the app doesn’t promote Arc'teryx products, it does provide avid outdoorsman reports on trails and mountain conditions around North America from trained and certified professional guides.
The app states “Arc'teryx and the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides have worked together to build this tool with the goal of assisting recreational mountaineers in planning their trips, and aiding the process of making informed decisions when in the field.”
App users may view reports by location, conditions for climbing, skiing and hiking, warnings regarding wildlife, avalanche, and access issues, photos of mountains and trail conditions, and up to the minute reports.
Arc’teryx also leverages traditional social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube to showcase products used in real life, feature customers, and share stories.
eCommerce stores that carry hundreds of products can run into the issue of overwhelming their customers, yet Arc’teryx doesn’t have that problem. It’s important to Arc’teryx that customers choose the right product for their sporting activities and since they carry a lot of items, they’ve made it easy for customers to choose the right one.
To increase customer satisfaction and bring their exceptional in-store experience online, they’ve implemented many ways in which to filter products. One way is through their “shell finder” feature. The feature allows customers to filter through about 3 or 4 different parameters to narrow down their choice, but many shoppers find their perfect jacket in as little as 2.
Features like the shell finder contribute to the great user experience you’ll get from shopping on Arc’teryx. The entire site is easy to navigate and simple enough to find exactly what you’re looking for, no matter what device you’re on.
So what have you learned from Net-A-Porter, Lush, and Arc'teryx? Through combining content, community, and commerce they've set themselves up for success. It's easy to see that an interested visitor has everything they need to become a buyer and eventual brand advocate. With the amount of physical stores closing up shop this past year, it's imperative that merchants that have an online presence, brick-and-more store, or both, use the 3 C's to strengthen their brand and build lasting relationships with their customers.