Terry Hunter
Terry Hunter 8 August 2019

‘Gimme a Fat Face’ – Why You Shouldn’t Copy the Ecommerce Platform of Your Online Crush

For many retailers looking to build or relaunch an ecommerce platform, identifying existing sites that they admire is an essential step in their journey. For example, Fat Face’s highly successful relaunch in 2017 won lots of admirers thanks to its seamlessly integrated video, predictive search and visible availability of products and because it just looked great!

In fact, it was so admired that many brands and retailers would begin their briefing process by simply saying ‘gimme a Fat Face’. 

But retailers and brands should be very wary of digital agencies that are prepared to throw caution to the wind and slavishly clone a competitor’s site. Instead, the best re-platforming partners will provide a thorough consultation service interrogating a wide range of factors, both technical and creative, before collaboratively proposing a solution. 

Selling a brand experience

In fact, a growing number of retailers agree that only by merging the creative and technical aspects of re-platforming can retailers effectively represent their brand experience in the digital commerce world. This means taking a holistic approach to every aspect of re-platforming from visual design and photography to user experience and user interface, weaving in your brand as they go. As a result, best-in-breed integrators can now cover off technology, agency and consultancy.

So, when it comes to designing a platform that satisfies your specific needs, how can you spot a digital agency that won’t simply fob you off with a one-size-fits all solution? The best way to spot a great digital commerce agency is the amount of focus it devotes to the scoping and discovery stages of a project, when they’ll get under the skin of your brand story and figure out the best way to translate it through your ecommerce platform.

So…what exactly do you want?

Before a retailer and their digital agency can even consider what the eventual ecommerce platform will look like they need to go through a detailed discovery phase.  This does take significant time and effort, but during this time critical blueprints for the project will be created. Without these, the business will not get what it wants, it won’t be true to brand, and only very rarely will the project be a success.

During the scoping stage it is vital that all the businesses’ requirements are identified and built into the project. These requirements will include functional requirements (such as loyalty and click & collect) and non-functional aspects (such as security and performance). Armed with this information your partner should be able to offer you an accurate total delivery quote that doesn’t leave too many time and material (T&M) areas open.

During the discovery stage an effective partner will relate functional requirements back to business objectives and extract more information about pain points and brand rationale.

This is by no means an exhaustive explanation of what a great discovery and scope looks like, that would run into many pages and is our blueprint and reserved for our Astound clients, being one of the components that has ensured successful projects.  But it does give a flavour of what’s needed to start the process of transforming your brand into an ecommerce experience that delivers what your customer will engage well with.  If a prospective partner does not offer a detailed and collaborative scoping and discovery stage this should set alarm bells ringing.

Yes, Fat Face’s website is great, but what works for Fat Face will almost certainly be different from what will work for other retailers and brands and it takes time, effort and expertise – both technical and creative - to deliver an ecommerce special sauce unique to your business.

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