There’s nothing about our model that can’t be
copied over time. But, you know, McDonald’s got
copied. And it still built a huge, multibillion-dollar
company. A lot of it comes down to the brand name.
Brand names are more important online than they
are in the physical world.”
— Jeff Bezos, chairman, president and CEO
“look at a company like Uber or Airbnb, and you look at those applications and they’re so good because they’re doing one thing and they do it extremely well.”
Kennedy echoes those sentiments.
“Start by doing one thing very well and
that’s how you build trust in your brand,”
he says. “Once you have the traffic and
the customer base to sort of spread your
wings and do everything, that’s when
you’ve nailed it. But the barriers to entry
are pretty immense, so you’ve got to know
that your customers are going to follow
you when you start by selling books and
then start selling groceries 10 years later.”
But, the truth is, not every brand
needs or even wants to become an Ama-
zon. For those entrepreneurs simply who
want to polish up their e-commerce pres-
ence, there are few surefire things keep in
mind when bolstering a site.
Hoffer explains that Mumu is trying to
tailor and build more dynamic marketing
efforts into its e-mail and homepage by
better segmenting existing customer data
and taking their browsing history from
the site for retargeting purposes.
“That’s something Amazon does so
well. If you come to that home page and
you’re logged in, it’s a completely different
user experience in terms of what products
are in those main marquees. For a lot
of other brands, maybe it’s not on their
radar, maybe they haven’t invested in it,
or maybe they’re just afraid it’s going to
destroy the look or aesthetic they need for
brand cohesiveness,” he says.
For Hoffer, the leaner and meaner that
the site is, the better the conversion. “If
you have a site that’s really cluttered and
muddled and trying to do too much on
the homepage, then the customer’s focus
is broken up into too many directions,”
Hoffer cites Warby Parker and Bonobos as stellar examples of brands that
tailor their sites toward their customer.
“But, that’s always the kind of push and
pull, having a site a certain way because
we need to brand the site and make it recognizable, or make it dynamic so that it
caters to the customer based on what they
want,” he says.
Kennedy agrees that many retailers
struggle with finding the right online
identity. “A lot of the luxury brands that
have tried to carve out their niche of
the e-commerce market have failed, and
they’ve been replaced by new brands that
sell luxury products,” he says.
He uses Trunk Club as a prime example. “Trunk Club doesn’t make clothes;
it buys clothes that haven’t been sold
in brick-and-mortar,” Kennedy says.
“They’re new clothes, but they’re in the
secondary market because they didn’t sell
the first time around wherever they were.
They’re still luxury brand items that are
sold at a margin by a middleman. Trunk
Club’s doing really well. But, I know
DKNY, for instance, had this big social
media push a couple years ago. They
brought in an expert who was going to
‘technify’ that higher-end fashion brand,
and I don’t know that it necessarily
panned out for them. They’re being outpaced by the Trunk Clubs of the world.”
In general, he finds that the more
you can create an in-store type of experience online, the better. That being said,
perhaps the most ironic factor in this
entire e-commerce equation is the former
online-only retailers coming full circle —
stepping out of digital and back into the
All Roads Lead Home
“There’s a frequent debate that I’ve
seen within online companies — companies like Dorothy Perkins and Bonobos
that are now opening up pop-up shops or
brick-and-mortar storefronts. It’s like the
reverse of trends that you saw throughout the late 1990s or early 2000s, where
brick-and-mortar stores were kind of falling by the wayside,” says Kennedy.
He contends that an internal debate
exists for Internet retailers about whether
to open a brick-and-mortar location.
Often, it’s not necessarily cost effective,
but it can be a solid branding exercise.
“There’s a certain feel you get by en-
tering a store that you can’t really recreate
online,” Kennedy says. “Online brands
opening up brick-and-mortar shops is a
way to show their customers what they’re
about in a physical sense. It’s kind of
; Make sure all applicable information is
made plain, obvious, thorough and above
the fold on a purchase page.
; Keep any logins simple: one step or click
; Minimize commitment to recurring
charges, etc. Consumers should be able to
; Use “continue” as often as possible. It’s a
softer word than “register” or “buy.”
; Show icons for acceptable forms of payment. Credit card logos should be in color.
; Show security icons: consumers are concerned about the security of e-commerce
sites, especially new ones.
; Mobile: cut to the chase. Have a mini-sitemap on the front page that drives users
to the most applicable information.