The internet, while ubiquitous in our everyday lives, is still fairly new. Many remember the days preceding its arrival, and well. The systems and rituals that went along with finding things,researching things, buying things the old fashioned way are now both shockingly archaic and comfortingly nostalgic.
While we have adjusted and flourished alongside the arrival of the world-wide-web, there are those for whom this adjustment was never necessary. Digital natives are growing up, commanding spending power and shaping the future of our economy and the brands that support it, and their standards are high. While many brands have long ago adjusted their marketing strategies, redesigned their sites for mobile and reallocated their advertising budgets as a result, there are still a few clear markers of a pre-internet age that have not yet washed away.
E-commerce - while a radical reshaper for modern purchasing behaviors - is a perfect example of a channel that is not yet digitally native, despite its name. While e-commerce was a radical creation adding an “e” to commerce and taking products online didn’t solve for all our modern woes. In fact, by attempting to move traditional goods online without paying close attention to the needs and restrictions of the channel, we’re left with a bit of a gruesome design flaw. Branding and packaging that was designed to wow consumers on shelves is now expected to wow consumers and their wallets on screen within a seconds and pixels.
Within five years, 20% of the U.S.’s $3.6 trillion retail market will have shifted online, and it’s essential that brands shift their e-commerce strategies to match demand. Whereas many mainstream brands sell their products offline and online with no real channel distinction, there is a huge opportunity for savvy brands to set themselves apart by designing with channel in mind, because what works offline cannot be expected to work online, and vice versa.
While designing for pixels may be daunting to many, e-commerce actually provides brands with the unique ability to focus on designing more holistic brand experiences, free from traditional brick and mortar constraints. Since product differentiators, call-outs, price and promotion all sit in the sidebar, brands can put special attention into designing online product offerings that communicate the brand first and foremost. In this way, designing for digital provides brands with a wealth of opportunity, allowing them to command attention and win consumers from first click through to the unpacking experience at home.
As our marketplaces are increasingly online it’s essential that brands step up to the plate, acknowledge the differences between channels and platforms and begin to adapt the way they design. Because in a market that is increasingly dominated by the digitally native, if you don’t step up, you’ll simply be left behind.
Authored by CBA North America CEO, Jean-Marc Rinaldi.
See our recent work designing across channels for Purina Beyond e-commerce.