Tuesday, September 18, 2012
In the last 2 years, there has been a rapid rise in the interest in fashion from Africa. With this interest comes a need for platforms where this customer need and want can be satisfied. These platforms not only serve as a means of promotion and marketing for the varied brands in the industry but also as a means of providing fashion enthusiasts and lovers with another variety for their fashionable wardrobes.
Today, I will be looking at 3 UK based online stores that have all cropped up in different stages in the development of this fascination with the African fashion scene.
These online stores are:-
My Asho (derived from the Yoruba word “aso” meaning cloth and pronounced “ash-awe”) is an online fashion concept, developed in 2008 and launched in June 2009 by Dolapo Shobanjo to celebrate and promote the talent of African designers based throughout the world. They aspire to become a one-stop-shop for the best in authentic African inspired designs.
Agnes & Lola is a London based online retailer of African fashion brands founded in August 2010 by Lola Adeshigbin. It showcases a kaleidoscope collection of designers from a multitude of influences. The company selects designers who contribute positively to the development of Africa through their practises or their community involvement.
Styles Afrik is the newest online fashion store to be launched in London in 2012 by Stephanie Mensah. It is a hub for advertising both emerging and established African influenced brands. The site stocks men and women’s wear and accessories as well as children and home wares.
I will be analysing these sites based on:-
• Look – visual presentation of the website
• Relevancy – how relevant/current is the information on the site
• Usability – how easy is the website to use?
• Diversity – how diverse are their available products
The My Asho website is a clean easy to navigate portal with visibly marked tabs. The images on the home screen are clear drawing attention to what brands / pieces are available and newly listed. The images of the pieces/products available on the site are also very clear and easy to view by the customer. Nevertheless, there should be a stricter regulation on the background lighting and quality of the images received from the brands.
Visually, the current Agnes & Lola website is beautifully presented. The theme on the site is the relaxing holidays; with images of the 4 different map points of the continent as well as the sprawling beach. The site has been clearly designed to promote their current summer pieces. The tabs are also clearly marked making the website very easy to use.
The Styles Afrik home screen is currently choked up with too many mish mashed images and information making it visually unpleasant to the eye. The platform would work better if the flickering images at the top of the screen were the main and only images of the home screen. The designer preview section, the video as well as the Agent Provocateur and Groupon advertisements should not be on the home screen.
Do the sites have what its customers could be looking for? Let’s imagine what these customers would be looking for; information about new arrivals, the brands being stocked, contact information, shipping and handling terms and conditions as well as information about the online site.
What is presented?
At the My Asho site, the newly listed products are clearly marked on the bottom edge of their home screen. The clearly marked “Womens” “Home” “Market” tabs display available products in stock on the website with clearly marked prices. The contact information as well as the terms and about us info is available on the bottom edge of the screen. A short designer bio is available for each brand stocked on the A-Z Designers section under the “Home” tab.
Agnes & Lola on the other hand has a more creative platform. The “Just in” “Clothing” “Accessories” tabs ensure the customer can search and view the products available and on sale with clearly marked prices. Pieces can also be searched by searching through the “Designers” tab. A must to check on the site is their “Playground” tab which is a beautiful marriage of fashion and culture. Selected pieces from their collection have been fused together with a selected destination from the 4 map points of the continent.
Available products on the Styles Afrik site can be searched by the “Designers” “Men” “Women” “Homeware” tabs on the website. There is no bio information of the brands stocked however we are given an indication of their geographical location. The terms and condition as well as the about us information is on the bottom edge of the screen.
Customers who shop online do so because of limits and constraints be it in time or available platform serving this need. We live in a fast paced world and time is of the essence. People do not have hours to spend searching for information so it is essential that on platforms such as a website, information is clearly and easily placed. For online boutiques, the images have to be clear and in a great resolution so all aspects of a product can be seen.
All the 3 websites clearly present their customers with all the information they need. From the information about the online platform to their terms and condition to product availability. The product quality and visibility is much better in Agnes & Lola whilst on My Asho and Styles Afrik they could be better.
How diverse are the products on sale?
For a newly launched website, the Styles Afrik platform presents its customers with a wide variety of brands and products to choose from. They stock items from known names such as Pearl1130, Asakeoge, Deenola, Dionne Gooding, Gloria Wavamunno as well as emerging names such as Ajepomaa Design Gallery, Mina Danielle, Ariike Alden and Ayikai Couture.
The platform also stocks fashion pieces as well as beauty and home wares.
On the Agnes & Lola platform, they currently stock items from 14 very well known and credible fashion names within the industry. Their product range is varied however they need to increase their brand count to give their customers more choice.
There are over 20 brands on the My Asho website consisting of mainly well established fashion names within the industry such as JBL, Ituen Basi, Mina Evans, Nkwo and Tiffany Amber. The platform stocks women’s and men’s wear as well as kids and home wares including fashion lifestyle magazines from Arise, books and greeting cards.
First impressions are paramount on the web than in person. For online platforms especially, the more cluttered a website looks the less attractive and less user friendly it becomes to the target customers which could have a detrimental effect on the business.
Here are some tips for an online platform:-
• Create a visually appealing display of the landing page to encourage interest.
• Ensure the information presented is easily accessible and is in keeping with the overall branding strategy.
• Ensure you have a very clear and high resolution of the images/products.
• A clear display of the prices and product description and sizes available.
• Be creative with your information to your customers.
• Why not work with a fashion stylist or fashion blogger from time to time on your site to give your customers something different?
• Change your landing page once or twice a year or according to the seasons to encourage interest and appeal.
• Introduce new products/items to encourage customers to your platform.
It only takes 3-7 seconds for a potential client to scan the site and get a first impression of your business. If your website is unable to impress and inform the potential client of what they need within that time frame, chances of them ever coming back are very unlikely. Your website should be parallel with the personality of your brand, displaying your top qualities.
Take a few seconds and evaluate your own web site.
Until the next post!
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All information from:-
NB: Analysis done in August 2012