Share this article

Commerce blog | Ecommerce

Checking Out the Virtual Christmas Shop Windows

Checking Out the Virtual Christmas Shop Windows
Which retailers have the merriest—and most effective—yuletide home pages?

Everyone likes checking out shop windows during the holidays. So we decided to do the cyber version: look around at the home pages of numerous websites during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday promotional period. After all, since those are among the year's busiest days for online shopping, surely online sellers would have dressed up their home pages—their virtual storefront windows—in all their finery, right?

 

Apparel retailer Boden did.

 

image: Boden's gif is adorable—when the purse unzips it really does look like a mouth—and impressively smooth as well.

image: Boden's gif is adorable—when the purse unzips it really does look like a mouth—and impressively smooth as well.

 

At first glance the term "eye-baubles" in its headline made me think of Clockwork Orange, but then I spied the gif. The ornaments that make up the eyes and the purse that doubles as the mouth are so expressive, and the whole thing is in keeping with Boden's cheeky yet never tacky brand. Of all the home pages I viewed, this was the most memorable—and that is so important. Shoppers are landing on a multitude of pages during the Christmas shopping season, and because they're likely to be comparison shopping, they don't necessarily stop to browse or shop each one. So you want your site to be the one they recall when they move from "browsing" to "buying" mode, or when they realise, a week from now, that they still need a gift for Cousin Chloe or a dress for that holiday party.

 

Most of the other pages I visited were the opposite of memorable. Many, many, many retailers used their home pages to tout their discounts and free shipping offers, of course. But for the most part, the presentation was uninspired—and uninspiring. Example: the home page for department store Lord & Taylor.

 

 

 

image: So, does Lord & Taylor have some sort of promotion going on?

image: So, does Lord & Taylor have some sort of promotion going on?

 

There's a lot going on here. I'm not sure how "25% off storewide for a total savings of up to 75% off" works—I assume the store is marking down already marked-down items—but the blah type and drab background image don't entice me to click through.

 

Even busier is the home page for furniture retailer Apt2B. I do like the countdown clock at the top, though. The animation is great, and it creates a sense of urgency. Apt2B uses it to count down till the end of the promotional period, but you could also use it to mark the amount of time left to order in time for Christmas (or Valentine's Day, or what-have-you) delivery.

 

 

 

image: Apt2B makes Lord & Taylor look subtle.

image: Apt2B makes Lord & Taylor look subtle.

 

Happy Socks took a more arty approach. Yes, its promotion is prominent, but the screen is nicely uncluttered. The background image, though, mystifies me. Is that piles of crumpled kraft paper? Is it supposed to suggest loads of opened packages? Are socks packed with kraft paper? Granted, this is a memorable page, but not one I'd necessarily come back to visit.

 

 

 

image: The home page of Happy Socks features no socks, nor does it look especially happy.

image: The home page of Happy Socks features no socks, nor does it look especially happy.

 

I think Moshulu's twist on the promotional period would have been fabulous for Happy Socks. Next to a graphic promoting 20% off sitewide is another one stating "We don't do Black Friday. We do Colourful Week." That sums up the cheery, welcoming brand ethos perfectly.

 

 

 

image: Of course Moshulu's home page is delightful; the company is based in Devon, the most delightful place I've ever lived.

image: Of course Moshulu's home page is delightful; the company is based in Devon, the most delightful place I've ever lived.

 

Shoulders of Giants, which sells outdoor gear, was more successful with its attempt at understatement. The promotion, up to 30% off, appears in a slender banner above a handsome outdoor photo. Rather than focusing on the sale, however, it positions itself as the place to find gifts for those tough-to-shop-for men in your life: "For the guy that has everything. We went through the shop to find gear that we are sure HE doesn't have." Its audience, I'm guessing, is affluent enough that they care less about getting the best deal and more about getting the best gift. The copy taps into emotion—fear of failure, in this case failure to select a gift he'll love. What's more, the final line, "Pick it up now before we run out of stock," adds a sense of urgency.

 

 

 

image: If only Shoulders of Giants hadn't misspelled 'continental' on its free-shipping banner at the top...

image: If only Shoulders of Giants hadn't misspelled "continental" on its free-shipping banner at the top...

 

Bookseller Waterstones shows how something as simple as a tweaking a logo can inform visitors that something special is going on. The holly and other festive decor adorning the company name are sure to put visitors in a Christmas (and Christmas-shopping) mood. You could add cupids at Valentine's Day, candles and a cake to celebrate your company's birthday, a price tag hanging off a letter to signify an end-of-season sale.

 

 

 

image: I admit I don't recognise the flowers and bird embellishing the Waterstones logo, but I know yuletide spirit when I see it.

image: I admit I don't recognise the flowers and bird embellishing the Waterstones logo, but I know yuletide spirit when I see it.

 

I'm singling out toy seller The Entertainer for its "Chat with Santa!" gif on the right of its home page.

 

 

 

image: Who wouldn't want to chat with Santa?

image: Who wouldn't want to chat with Santa?

 

The pop-up Santa waves amid falling snow, and when you click it, a page appears with suggestions for topics of conversation, including "What presents should you give" and "Tips for Christmas dinner." You can also ask for a Christmas joke or pretty much anything else. It's a wonderful seasonal, on-brand take on live chat.

 

 

author: Sherry Chiger

Sherry Chiger

The editorial director of Your Commerce, Sherry Chiger is an award-winning writer and editor. She was formerly editorial director of Multichannel Merchant and Catalogue e-business magazines.

 

Share this article

Ecommerce