When Simon Pearce approached us for help with their e-commerce site, they presented us with a challenge. How could we convey the heritage, artisanship, quality, and handmade authenticity that make up the soul of their brand of glass, pottery, and tableware items when displayed on a virtual platform?
The solution was simple – we told their story.
Simon Pearce is a high-end retail brand that sells glass, pottery, and wood tableware. Each piece is handcrafted by professionals in their Vermont Workshop called “The Mill”. They pride themselves in creating extraordinary pieces that are designed with timeless simplicity and can be used for everyday moments.
Create a compelling e-commerce platform that captured the essence of their unique (and practically extinct) way of making decorative yet functional pieces for the home. There seems to be a flood of home decor sites available to shoppers but rarely do we come across handcrafted gems made by artisans like they do at Simon Pearce. We needed to find a way to convey their time-honored traditions in a modern way. But first, we needed to identify the challenges.
These were our three key challenges:
1 – Stand out from other home decor sites. Though there is a myriad of high-quality purveyors of home essentials, Simon Pearce stands apart in a category all its own thanks to its handcrafted pieces built in their own workshop. We needed to relay this story to shoppers in an easy way.
2 – Identify product differentiators. In order to stand out, we needed to show how these products go beyond the usual lamp or table because of the uniqueness of each piece.
3 – Create an e-commerce experience representative of the client’s time-honored process of creation. Above all, it was important to respect the online shopping experience with a simple and clean display that still represented the rich creation process of each item.
KEY STEPS: Stakeholder interviews, competitive landscape research, brand analysis, develop content strategy.
Tell the story and bring the heart of the brand to light by simplifying the site itself. At Gallardo Labs, we pride ourselves on helping brands discover their true potential in a way that feels organic to them. For Simon Pearce, we created more than just another pricey tableware eCommerce site. We introduced pieces of their unique story where relevant, justifying the product’s higher prices with their real value, elegance, and craftsmanship.
1 – Show & Tell – In order to stand out from the many home decor sites, we needed to show the products in a new way. Rather than the expected tablescapes, we had to go to the origin stories of the products – show the sweat and grind that went into making each piece. That story needed to be front and center.
2 – Redefine the Content Strategy – Once we knew we had to showcase the generations and traditions behind the brand, we began to set up our tools for syndication – a story doesn’t work if there’s no vehicle for delivery. Beyond overall site design and functionality, we also provided art direction for product and lifestyle photoshoots and worked on several email campaigns to support storytelling and interaction with their customer base.
KEY STEPS: Educate the client on the fundamental benefits of humanizing the brand and telling a personal story of heritage; outline a content strategy for accomplishing this.
HOW WE DID IT
In order to focus on the important details – the story of the brand – we needed to remove all the secondary messaging from the main areas of the site and simplify the way in which customers were finding their way around the interface. In order to accomplish this, we dramatically decluttered the global navigation and created a new pillar called “Discover Us” which allows users to learn and explore. We also created a large library of global modules along with a robust design language system to allow their internal team to continue evolving the site while staying true to the new design. Our goal visually and structurally was to reflect this same vision of users buying something designed to last generations.
1 – Capture the Story – Probably one of the most essential steps was in working with stakeholders to capture the actual process from workshop to storefront. After understanding the raw artistry that happens inside the Simon Pearce workshop, we urged their team to start by capturing it visually. After our research, we felt confident that people wanted to see the grit, sweat, and rigor that went into creating each product. We heard Simon refer to glassblowing as a “ballet” because of the precision and gracefulness it required and we wanted to capture the essence of that ballet for their customers to enjoy. After a deep-dive competitive analysis, we also recommended moving away from the typical full table setting shots they were using to showcase their products. Because that didn’t set them apart from their competitors, we suggested switching to close-ups and unique angles to highlight the hand-made intricacies of their products. This combination of visuals would be crucial in conveying the full brand experience to the customer.
2 – Categorize Products and Stories: Once we had the desired product and brand images, we worked with the client to help correctly identify each piece in its corresponding category. Though we simplified the site navigation, there was a perfect place for every piece of product and content, and all of it aligned with the client’s vision. The story was at the center of the brand, so we also gave it its own place under a new pillar called “Discover Us.”
3 – Implement New Site Design & Functionality – From the crisp new photography to the sleek desktop and mobile device responsive experience, and even the checkout process, the entire process was planned and carried out in sprints in conjunction with the client’s internal and overseas development teams. We delivered pixel-perfect design files, the new global modules, master templates, and the design language system. We then worked diligently with them to ensure it was implemented as planned.
KEY TOOLS: Magento eCommerce platform, email template.
Simon Pearce was a very design-centric client to work with who presented us with the utmost interesting challenge to solve. But at the heart of it was the idea of expanding the reach of their brand without compromising integrity or diluting the richness of their essence.
But why dive into a completely different strategy for a brand that had decades of legacy behind it?
Because stories matter. Stories are what connect people to each other. Stories are what bring meaning, value, and emotion to an otherwise inanimate object. Stories make us human. And as such, they humanize the brand, giving it a longer life.
The solution to the challenge they presented us with resided in always keeping their very human touch at the center of their digital presence. To date, this is still one of our favorite projects.