Conde Nast’s new ecommerce business, Style.com, launched in the UK at the beginning of this month.
Formerly a fashion news and editorial website for Vogue, it has now morphed into a shiny new luxury shopping destination.
Targeted towards readers of magazines like Vanity Fair and GQ, it sells a curated selection of designer brands within the fashion and beauty sectors.
It’s been hotly anticipated – but does it live up to the hype?
Here’s a run-down of my first impressions.
Having only just launched, much of the homepage is clearly aimed at providing the user with context about the site.
With its smart imagery and sleek navy design, it feels surprisingly minimal.
Promoting itself as ‘shopping curated by the editors’, its ‘open’ sign and free shipping and returns banner is enticing for new visitors.
Scrolling down on the homepage, categories are nicely highlighted, effectively pointing the user’s attention towards the most popular categories and brands.
One aspect I particularly like – though simplistic in terms of design – are the clear and concise selling points that are displayed.
Again promoting free shipping, as well as basic but direct info like ‘new products daily’ – you know what you’re getting from the very start.
Another promising feature is the large newsletter sign-up box at the bottom of the homepage.
Its copy builds on the fact that Style.com is curated by Conde Nast editors, using the ‘exclusive’ editorial angle wherever possible. This is likely to work in its favour.
Category & product pages (and shoppable edits)
Unlike the homepage, which has minimal content in comparison, category pages are designed more in line with Style.com’s editorial origins.
With shoppable trends and feature articles, it is reminiscent of Net-A-Porter’s magazine style content.
This is no bad thing of course – with many consumers already aware of Conde Nast’s involvement, plus Vogue and GQ introducing shoppable edits – editorial authority is likely to be a big draw.
Using quotes from editors, the writing is both authoritative and helpful.
With tips and recommendations interspersed with the products themselves, it is almost reminiscent of having your own personal shopper.
Despite smooth sailing until now – I was a little disappointed when I got to the product pages.
The main problem is that the images are too basic, with no option to zoom or even enlarge.
With the likes of ASOS winning on catwalk videos and high-quality imagery, it is a shame that a high-end site like Style.com does not have something similar.
What’s more, with the absence of a physical experience, it is often vital for luxury ecommerce sites to reflect the feel and quality of items online.
Sadly, it is very difficult to gain a real sense of what the products look and feel like in real life.
With equally basic product copy – the words aren’t much help either.
Having said that, it’s not all bad.
The ‘also from’ feature is pleasing – as is the inclusion of editorial features intermixed into the categories.
Image galleries made up models or famous faces wearing designers are found as you scroll down.
This is a feature I’ve not seen before, and a nice fusion of online editorial and ecommerce.
Onto the navigation, and the main menu on the left-hand side is intuitive and easy to use.
As well as clearly defined categories, it allows users to click through to subcategories straight from the homepage, meaning there’s no need to navigate through the site.
In just two clicks, you can be viewing anything from jeans to candles – which is rather efficient.
I was equally impressed with the filtering system.
Instead of including it in a dropdown, the style filters are fixed to the top of the page (long sleeves etc).
Others, like size and colour, can then be chosen from drop-downs below.
Along with the options to clear filters with one click – it offers a pretty fast and efficient way for users to find what they’re looking for.
Checkout and additional features
Onto the checkout process, and it’s a case of hit and miss.
The option for a guest checkout is great. As is the reassurance that setting up an account takes ‘less than a minute’.
However, there’s no way to pay via PayPal – an option that many spoiled consumers now expect as standard.
Apart from this, it’s a fairly smooth process.
With free shipping and returns highlighted throughout the user journey as well as the final summary, the total cost is transparent at all times.
Finally, a few other features I think are worth mentioning. Firstly, the fact that Style.com is not just a fashion site.
I was surprised to find a vast array of categories, specifically a ‘wellness’ section that sells everything from tea to probiotics.
This is definitely a plus point for consumers who buy into the lifestyle aspect of magazines like Vogue and GQ.
Lastly, the ‘Stylecloud’ feature – an option to set up a wishlist of desirable products, so that consumers can browse and return to the same items at a later date.
It’s nothing majorly original, however the added bonus of being alerted to new stock (and its clever name) elevates it to something more impressive.
It’s hard not to compare Style.com with Net-A-Porter – a site that’s built up years of customer loyalty through effective content marketing.
Luckily, Style.com also has years of loyal readership from its array of print and online magazines.
There’s a lot to like – great design and navigation makes for an enjoyable browsing experience.
Similarly, with a lack of imagery and room for more in-depth editorial, there’s also a lot to improve on.