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Monsoon has launched Swoon, a shoppable monthly magazine for tablets (but also working well on desktop). It's full of products and rich content and was built by Rockabox Studios on the Ceros design platform.
With the prices of Monsoon apparel comparable with Cos – middle to upper high street pricing - and the more artisan pieces pricier still, at more than £300, this feels like a good move.
The image of Monsoon has perhaps slipped in recent years and lost some of its chic or urbanity. I can see this campaign of shoppable magazines as a step towards bringing this firmly back to the brand, which needs to highlight the quality of its clothing, including its hand-embellished pieces.
The launch of a shoppable magazine is in line with many other brands seeking to bring more editorial and clustering to their offerings. Net-A-Porter has launched a mag, M&S has mixed up its website with plenty of content and trailblazers ASOS and TopShop have been doing this for a while.
Let’s take a more detailed look at Swoon.
Designing for tablet
The magazine is designed for tablets. The copy asks us to ‘tap’.
This makes sense in the face of statistics that show these devices accounted for a third of Boxing Day conversions in 2013 and were present in 44% of UK households in 2013.
Videos and music work well throughout the magazine.
To begin with, I was less convinced by the GIFs used. The first time I encountered them they were fairly short cycle and jarred a little, though of course they do grab one's attention.
See the two below, taken from this first dresses page, to get the full effect, somewhere between Robert Palmer, The Odyssey and Interview with the Vampire.
However! If you click on any of the dresses, you'll get altogether better gifs.
Look at that twirl, showing the dresses off to their fullest. This is as good as most product video in ecommerce functionality.
I'll show another great GIF use later in the post.
Clicking the link to 'see video', shown on page below, gives more twirling and some lifestyle footage.
It's a very effective way of showing off the product.
Unfortunately on this first dresses page, a lot of the calls to action to buy were appended with the copy ‘coming soon’.
That sort of defeats the object of a shoppable magazine, however it's worth saying that this article was written on the day of launch.
However, I did find one dress that was shoppable and it popped out in a light box, which worked well. I can add to bag then proceed to checkout or exit and go back to my magazine.
As I clicked through, the 'coming soon' tag became less prevalent.
The copywriting is obviously done by somewhere who knows their onions, but I found it trod the line a little too close to marketing and too far from magazine (in some places).
Here’s a good example below, the advice is solid but the rhetorical question and overly slick feel is more like product copy than magazine copy.
Know what? This good looking twosome aren’t joined at the hip (or anywhere else). Drive maximum wardrobe mileage by teaming the top with slim black trousers...or partnering the skirt with a pastel knit.
However, it did improve – see this example from the Hero Skirt feature:
Every great collection has its stand-out pieces. And this is one of ours: a lean, slightly longer style with on-trend geometric embellishment.Downplay it for day with flats. Then pop on killer heels for drinks after work.
I like the way the skirts page uses copy more liberally, against each of the four featured designs.
(Click to enlarge)
The ‘see the fabric’ functionality works really well and is one area where gifs work magnificently.
The social sharers are big and bold, which is perfectly sensible.
I might disagree with the reinvention of the verb ‘to swoon’ here. But, hey, you can’t fault Monsoon for adding some character. It pays to stand out like this.
I found this video the most effective part of the magazine. Click the image below to watch it.
It’s displayed full screen, is good quality, the colours all complement well and it’s the right side of cheesy/marketing. The slogan is particularly effective, too – the ‘love’ imperative very important for items that some shoppers might be trading up to.
Clicking through to ‘shop now’ gives a fantastic slide with plenty of items to consider.
(Click to enlarge)
Letting the influencers loose
It’s particularly encouraging, and in line with other modern retailers, to see Monsoon engaging with independent bloggers.
The magazine closes with invitation to check out three other domains (Poppy Loves, The Elgin Avenue, Fashion Me Now), where bloggers have been trialling Monsoon garb.
There are also some lightbox pop-outs that show some copy, the bloggers in a couple of outfits and allow one to buy. As you’d expect, the copy is particularly good here.
Khaki is THE trans-seasonal hue of A/W 14. I am obsessed with the sequin detailing on this smart jumper.
Altogether I was impressed with the experience. One remains within the catalogue, shopping doesn’t boot you back out to the ecommerce functionality unless you want it to (to check out). You can add to bag and continue enjoying the editorial.
I hadn't realised (although I'm probably not the target audience) that Monsoon had such well made pieces and conveying that information is clearly the aim of the catalogue. No doubt it will engage some new visitors and delight loyal customers.
Pretty soon, the architecture of the web and the abundance of content online, often generated by users, will result in most online retailers adding this string to their bow in a managable fashion.
For more information on content and commerce, see the Econsultancy report Where Content and Commerce Collide.