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Road Test: Let’s Go Shopping at Mon Purse
I took Mon Purse’s online store and its multichannel model for a road test recently, designing my own handbag, while testing out its e-commerce and multichannel operations as well as its customer experience. Let’s go shopping!
For those who aren’t familiar, Mon Purse enables women to design their own handbags via its e-commerce platform. Its 3D bag builder interface allows for over ten billion design combinations, according to the company’s founder and CEO Lana Hopkins. It’s all very cool. In 2014, Lana established Mon Purse as a pureplay in Australia, which now also operates concession stores in selected Myer stores around Australia, Selfridges in London and Manchester, as well as outlets in New York and San Francisco.
Yep, all of that in just three years… talk about punching above its weight! Speaking of which, the company took out Power Retail’s “Punching Above Its Weight” award at this year’s Power Retail All Star Bash. In just three years, Mon Purse sales have skyrocketed by 8,000 percent and Lana projects 2017 to rake in $20 million plus in revenue for the Sydney-based retailer.
The entrepreneur says although things are going great guns with the company and it’s reaching some major strategic milestones, Mon Purse still has that “startup” mentality within the business, and its staff still gets excited about the little things.
Let’s Go Shopping!
Now if you know me, you’ll know I love style, but with style comes practicality. You’ll never scout me wearing uber high heels if I can’t walk elegantly in them. And you won’t find me wearing super comfortable shoes, that don’t align with my personal style. The same goes with handbags. That is why this was an especially fun little project for me. I can design my own handbag, add my own personal touches, create something that’s uniquely mine and add some practicality to it at the same time.
The first time I spotted Mon Purse was last year while doing last minute Christmas errands at Myer, Melbourne – they had a little outlet near the elevators. I browsed and then left, until a couple months ago that is, when I decided I needed a tote replacement.
For the lads, a tote is an everyday bag that can fit in all your junk, so to speak, from your laptop to your lunch, makeup, perhaps a jumper and brolly, and some reading material as well. Why not throw in a spare set of shoes in there too – you may as well.
I had outgrown the one I’d been using for the past year and the Oroton shopper tote that sits under my bed was an option, however, it’s fair to say it sits there for a reason. Don’t get me wrong – it’s beautiful, but it’s not big enough and not practical for my needs. Plus the colour – it came in limited seasonal colours and hardware options – but this is where Mon Purse comes in. Why shop the norm when I can design my own bag, and have a personalised Prinitha original. I hopped online after seeing Laura Brown’s collection flashing me on Instagram one morning and decided to revisit.
I had a squizz online and within minutes I came up with a style that I loved, in the right colour, hardware, leather and how I wanted it monogrammed. The website was really simple to use, easy to navigate around, and the zoomable 360-degree images gave me a pretty clear idea of what the leather would look like as well. The Mon Purse team have created a proprietary 3D bag builder interface, which was not only easy to use, but it was a lot of fun to design my handbag and twirl it around (virtually that is).
My only quam was – how close were the 3D images generated by the website’s interface to the actual product I was about to purchase? I wondered about things like: What about the quality of the leather? What did the leather feel like and look like up close? and, What about proportions and silhouette? I can source plenty of style inspiration from Instagram images but I’m all about the silhouette and proportions. How would this bag size look against my body? Are the proportions right for me? Is this the right shape? This is where a drop into Mon Purse’s concession store at Myer Melbourne paid off.
Mon Purse Multichannel Model
I wanted to see how close the images and product description matched up to the product in real life. While Mon Purses’s Myer concession didn’t have the exact colour I was after in stock, they did have the bag in a close enough colour, in the size I was after, which was enough to give me a good idea of what I had designed online.
The verdict – it reiterated the quality of the shopping experience online. After only a few minutes of browsing and feeling the leathers at Myer, and comparing the different sizes and styles in front of a mirror, I realised that my first choice was the right choice. I left impressed that the e-commerce platform delivered on what I thought the product would look like. Secondly, having a browse through the physical store gave me the opportunity to suss out some other products that would compliment my new tote, like a makeup case (why not) and a monogrammed coin purse.
While the in-store assistant gave me the option to buy via the iPad when I was there, I much preferred the idea of sitting in my home office with a cup of tea, putting the finishing touches on my newly designed tote, and ordering my makeup case and monogrammed coin purse. Again, the whole experience online was fun! As far as the multichannel model goes, Mon Purse follows best practice, where the in-store and online experience are an extension of each other. The branding, look and feel of the virtual and physical stores were consistent and I had options to purchase in store, online in-store, or at home online, either on my laptop or my smartphone if I was on the go.
Mon Purse’s homepage is clean, simple, elegant and reeks of “on-trend”, consistent with the products itself. Minimalistic is how I would describe the ambience of this homepage, with sleek lines and simple fonts and words, in contrast with bold images of feature bags and collections – it works well to make the products stand out. It loads impressively fast. At first it looks clear and sparse, showcasing a compact navigation and all the high level options, such as, “Design a Bag” and “Shop Bags” (for ready to ship orders), or “Small Leather goods” and “Store Locations” – but this actually adds to homepage’s clarity and the website as a whole, which is easy to navigate.
One feature I particularly liked was the “Shop Instagram” down the bottom of the homepage, which contained a mix of user-generated and Mon Purse Instagram images of the brand’s merchandise, where I could see how other consumers and Mon Purse were styling and pairing up the different handbags. User generated content is especially important for brands when it comes to increasing trust. According to Nielsen’s Consumer Trust Index, 92 percent of consumers trust organic, user-generated content more than they trust traditional advertising. I myself put up a Boomerang video on my own Instagram account @prinitha while visiting the Mon Purse multichannel store, sporting “The Trapeze” bag, which featured on the website within just a couple days.
Here’s what I liked about the category page – it was simple. Category names were relevant and easy to understand for a first time user and it allowed me to clearly see the different options I had for all the different products. If a customer is able to clearly see what products are available to them, this will increase their likelihood to buy. Another thing I liked was that the parent categories were a clickable link, allowing me to see all the items available in that category. For example, in “Design Your Own” I was able to click through and view all the options of bags that were available to be designed. Studies have shown that many customers, don’t necessarily want to narrow themselves to a product page at this point in the research process, and instead, want an overview page of the subcategories to choose from. What I didn’t like was that some of the sub categories were not a clickable link, for example, when I clicked on “Tote Bags” under parent category “Shop Bags” – what I really wanted to see was all the options of tote bags available in one page. However, it was text-only and clicking on it dropped down another set of categories, of four different tote styles. What I had to do from hereon was click on four different Tote tabs, which took me to four different pages – this didn’t give me the ability to look and compare on the same page. It was a bit trying to not have all the totes available for viewing one the one page to compare and browse.
Mon Purses’s search function is ace. For me, it remedied my comment above about having a unclickable “Tote” sub category. I was able to find all the tote bags that Mon Purse sold, and able to compare them on one page by using the search function and simply typing in Tote easily navigated to me all the totes bags Mon Purse had available to purchase. This is how I was able to make product comparisons.
The product page is cleverly designed for a number of reasons. Firstly images are large, zoomable, high quality and contextual, making up for the shortcoming of being online with the customer not being able to touch and feel the product. I also found the images online were consistent in their lighting, backgrounds and post-production in terms of receiving the actual product.
I found that product descriptions were inspiring with enough detail to capture interest, but not too much to bore. These details are clear and come across as carefully curated from a stylists point of view. Mon Purse doesn’t just explain what each handbag is made of and how it looks, but also how to use it. That kind of information not only delights customers and encourages their trust – it also makes for a more confident buying decision.
Also, notice how there’s plenty of white space surrounding the product images and description. According to research by ConversionXL, the white space creates a higher perceived value, in this case, price, of the product in the customer’s mind.
The most relevant information for me was listed in order of importance, such as product name, product size and dimensions, product description, payment options, price and colour.
Mon Purse’s proprietary 3D bag builder interface is a seven-step design process, and includes 360 degree zoomable swivel images.
The price is clearly laid out at the top, but in small font and the 1/7 steps clearly let me know that there were going to be seven steps to the process. Also, this design page states, in bold font, that the customer should allow 4 weeks for the bespoke bag to be delivered, which clearly communicates to me and lets me know whether on not I want to follow through. Again, transparency is an important factor is increasing a consumer’s trust in a brand and confidence in their purchase.
At the end of the 7 steps of designing my new tote, I was able to view my completed handbag, which wasn’t available for all the different bags available to be designed, but for this particular tote bag, it did show me what the finished product would look like.
Cart / Checkout
Mon Purse have a six-step checkout process in a one-page setup. The step indicator sets user expectations on how long it will take and the option to checkout as a guest is a nice feature, which will service those one-off consumers. Payment options like credit card, Paypal and Afterpay give the consumer a variety of options and reviewing the order before following through to payment is a great feature for trust and confidence.
Mon Purses’ mobile site is pretty solid. The website’s responsiveness transforms all the content to mobile gracefully. Category navigation and product pages are nice and clean, easy to use and information is displayed well. I did not road test the mobile site for the full shopping experience as I personally preferred the website version, simply because I liked the idea of seeing images of the bags on a larger screen.
This is where my interest in Mon Purse really began. Initially, I followed the brand on Instagram for its style inspiration. Mon Purse has this down pat. I love the mix of style, practicality and lifestyle the brand portrays in its high quality images. Something for everyone, weather you’re an editor like myself, out for a day with the girls, on a date night or having a night on the town with friends, the brand shows you how to style and wear its merchandise, effortlessly through its social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Mon Purse Facebook page injects personality into the brand, which features product videos, Mon Purse news updates, the brand’s media appearances, inspirational style content, high-quality images and snippets into its founder Lana Hopkins’ life, all of which help boost brand loyalty. The page is also rated as “very responsive” to messages, giving consumers another channel to communicate with Mon Purse, aside from its website chatbox and email addresses listed.
Verdict: Multichanneling at its Best
After stepping in-store at the Mon Purse Myer Melbourne concession, a “want versus need” moment struck me. I initially went in to confirm I was making the right decision with my tote bag design and I was pleased to discover that I had indeed chosen a winner. But as my eyes graced over the beautifully laid out store, there were lots of “ooh” and “ah” moments, one in particular. I coveted the “The Trapeze” bag, definitely a want over a need, as this one would be competing amongst similar ones I owned. Being able to pick it up, model it and explore the different ways of wearing the bag, not to mention the fantastic design of the interior of this bag, had me convinced that it’s a must have! So, there you have it, multichanneling at its best!
Kudos to you Mon Purse for nailing your website, making it a fun and exciting process for the consumer, and for nailing the multichannel model you have as well. I enjoyed spending time in the new layout of the outlet at Myer. Being in-store felt like I was in Mon Purse, meaning, the branding, look, feel and ambience was consistent with its online store. They are true extensions of each other, and from a consumer point of view, I was pleased to know I had options, for my convenience.
- Under “Shop Bags” – “Tote Bags” I would have loved if the entire selection of tote bags were displayed in one page, rather than having to go into each of the four sub sections separately to view the entire selection of totes.
- Faster delivery – Upon designing and placing my online orders, Mon Purse advised I should allow for 4 weeks for some items to made and delivered, however I received it within 6 to 7 weeks. What I did like though was the email update form Australia Post a day prior to delivery to advise when it would be delivered, and then a follow up email to advise it had been delivered, which is a handy security feature of delivery.
Didn’t think I’d write a review without talking about the product now did you – one word, fab! The brand delivers on the promise of what you see online. The products I received were very much what I expected, only better as I now have them in my hands. The leathers are soft and luxurious, rich colours and perfectly put together. Wrapping and branding was also on point, arriving in a sleek, elegant and stylish black box, just like its product page and the website, delightfully sealed with a bow, and a product care card as well as an authentication card included inside. Branding was consistent all round.