The Malibu Colony Company is a Luxury Boutique in Malibu, California that has been around for over 25 years. They have never had an online e-commerce store and due to the current global climate with COVID-19, customers were unable to purchase merchandise in-store, which negatively affected the company's brand and revenue. Building an e-commerce website will support local customers, as well as, grow the business by reaching a larger demographic.
How might we design a website that is easy to maintain and update for our client?
How will we create a user experience that reduces pain points for users which in turn, increases post-purchase satisfaction & retention?
How do we rebrand the company through designing an eCommerce website that helps users trust and feel loyal to the brand?
We sat down with the owner Alison Feigen who had recently bought the store from the previous owner who had run the store for over 25 years. Through our many discussions with her, we learned that although the store had a great reputation for being the best destination for luxury home goods and accessories in Malibu and there was still more room to grow the business.
Alison's background was in Advertising and she had spent the past ten years in New York working with some of the top retailers and brands in the world building strategic brand and marketing campaigns. She knew that brick and mortar businesses were losing popularity quickly and that you had to provide a unique experience. Alison had created a warm, inclusive, customer-centric atmosphere in her store and it was our job to bring that same expression online.
“Every item in this store is hand-picked and has it’s own character and personality, we are not amazon” -Alison Feigen Owner of The Malibu Colony co.
Discovery + Research
We conducted surveys with 60 people with salaries of $65,000 and above to be realistic about our store item price points and our target demographic.
- Key motivators for online shoppers to make purchases are strong product Imagery, brand trust, fast/reliable delivery, positive product reviews & efficient user experience.
The majority of purchases online were 2-3 times a month which shows a high demand for these products.
Almost half of the shoppers made high ticket home good purchases every month, which shows us that people are willing to spend the money online
42% of shoppers used social media to find a home goods store online, which shows the importance of marketing campaigns.
Top factors that keep users shopping online
How often do you make purchases online?
Surveyors had salaries of $65K or above (Amazon Turk)
We then interviewed six people about their shopping preferences. The group was made up of both men and women aging from 22-48 from all industries, including a full-time mother and an Interior Designer.
Branding and Packaging strongly influence purchasing decisions, especially return customers
Alignment to personal aesthetic is important, as people want to feel represented by their favorite brands
People want to feel desirability and inspiration within the first 10 seconds of visiting a website
Personable customer-service and excellent return policies equate to strong brand loyalty
As a California native and a supporter of local small businesses, Ashley frequents The Malibu Colony Company and is always looking for the latest trends and unique products, since giving gifts is her love language. Due to her busy lifestyle and the current global climate, Ashley is unable to visit the store and is wanting to shop online.
The Malibu Colony Company needs to create an aspirational website that offers inspirational imagery, intuitive navigation, and excellent customer support to create a successful ecommerce business to increase revenue and grow the customer base.
We reviewed five competitor brands (indirect and direct) to understand where they have had successes online and how we could disrupt the industry with newness.
The first thing that stood out was that all sites incorporated a nautical blue on their home page and an optic white background. By choosing a soft egg-shell background and avoiding similar blue tones we would become more memorable to the shoppers.
Wish lists were being used on one website but further research told us that it is a successful call to action tool for seasonal products, encourages return customers, and grows customer reach. It is used most commonly by Amazon and Google sites.
Providing a local, inclusive online environment and Highlighting unique one-of-a-kind and custom items would also help to make The Malibu Colony Company successful, as most of its competitors took a more clinical approach to their design style and products were easily searchable from other places.
Optimization + Validating Designs
Ideation Phase- we then began to compile and sort through data from the interviews to build empathy maps and brainstorm features that would support the user's needs and prioritized them into the matrix below.
Site Map - we used internal selling reports and a card sorting exercise to better organize the categories within the navigation bar to improve the shopping experience and checkout rate.
Low-Fidelity A/B Testing
User Scenario: User is interested in buying a candle as a gift and has never been on the website before.
Does the home page make it clear the purpose of the website and the idea of the store brand?
Does the navigation of the site make sense?
Does the design highlight all important features and information that’s needed?
What difficulties do users face while trying to find needed features or information on the site?
Mid-Fidelity updates based on testing
Cross-brand color scheme study: to identify the perfect combination of colors and fonts.
Style Guide: we created the below creative direction and shared it with the owner to give her an idea of the expression of the online store we planned to build for her store.