In the 40-or-so years since it was founded, Mulberry has grown from a Somerset start-up to a global fashion powerhouse. Its logo is instantly recognisable, its handbags have gained iconic status and its flagship stores display products with a four figure price tag in solid oak sculptures next to polished brass cash desks.
Online, however, Mulberry felt it was struggling to deliver a shopping experience that lived up to its luxurious reputation. So in 2011, it sent a ribbon-bound brief to Poke asking for help translating its brand values “into the digital realm”.
The brand’s new website, unveiled yesterday, is the result of two years work and one that Mulberry’s head of online Charlotte O’Sullivan says has “customer experience at its core”.
It’s a sleek site, but one that has prioritised ease of use: checkouts work in multiple languages, making a purchase requires only one page of form-filling instead of the usual four or five and its optimised for smartphones, tablets and computers. (The site uses customisable e-commerce platform Hybris).
“The digital space is becoming the primary channel for luxury brands in the UK and beyond, and people are happy to make luxury purchases online. The penny’s finally dropped for a lot of brands that they need to have a strong presence in this space, and it doesn’t make sense to do it in a half-arsed way,” says Roope.
The key challenge, he says, was creating a site thats functionality would rival popular aggregators such as Net-a-Porter and communicate the brand’s personality.
“Good luxury brands know that you cannot break the spell at any point – just as customers have to be treated well in store, they have to feel the service is excellent online. Too many brands obsess with looks but the mechanics of their site are clunky. With Mulberry, it’s a nice design job but where it really starts to fly is in the fineries – we’ve made it a much lighter, faster more responsive experience, with a bigger emphasis on the craft involved in making each product, a more intimate look at the brand and custom mobile sites that aren’t just afterthoughts,” he says.
Mulberry’s new homepage may lack the instant visual impact of full-bleed images, such as those used on retailer Burberry’s, but its understated design showcases product and catwalk imagery beautifully. It’s easy and quick to navigate, better integrates Mulberry’s social channels and an explore section allows readers to view additional content such as behind-the-scenes catwalk videos, interviews with designers and videos on the making of its products.
More close ups and shots of products both inside and out also emphasise the brand’s focus on craftsmanship, and the grey and white colour scheme and sans Neuvit type allow visuals to speak for themselves. The homepage also leads to one where users can explore each new collection and combines catwalk shots, video, product images and a click-through catalogue. As Roope explains, it’s a site that should give Mulberry a more engaging and unified online presence, and one that should encourage customers to use for browsing as much as buying.
“We really encouraged Mulberry to work on its social and editorial content. It’s becoming more influential in driving search engines and it gives brands a whole network to work with and not just an online shop.”