Oi Polloi are a men's clothing retailer based in Manchester, but whose online presence means their influence is felt far further afield. With unwavering style and laser-guided buying policies, Oi Polloi are the small retailer all the big players watch…
Having developed a strong look for their website, Oi Polloi were suffering from poor usability and back-end problems. We were charged with creating a powerful e-commerce website which projected their unique style while managing rapid growth online and off.
We also designed an Electronic Point Of Sale (EPOS) system, linking products, stock and customers across both the retail store and web.
E-commerce that sells more
After launching the new site, Oi Polloi's conversion rates went way up, and average order value followed suit. The average time spent on the site, as well as number of pages viewed, had also increased.
Here's how we interpret those four measures: visitors were finding what they wanted more easily and were more likely to stay on a given page. The products were presented more 'attractively' and the shopping process was less likely to trip them up or put them off. More time spent on the site means, quite naturally, a great chance of conversion. And that's exactly what happened! Huge increases in turnover since launch have to be, at least partly, down to those factors, which continue to be the case eight months on (at time of writing).
Off-the-peg clothes, bespoke website
We built Oi Polloi's website on our own e-commerce platform, Mothership. This allowed us to let Mothership do the 'heavy lifting' while we concentrated on those areas of Oi Polloi's business which make it unique. For example, Oi Polloi is extremely brand-focussed; their customers are deeply interested in the labels, and many of them will shop primarily by brand. Therefore, the Information Architecture (IA) of the site had to be organised with that in mind.
Electronic Point Of Sale (EPOS)
Our web-based EPOS system uses a touch-screen PC, thermal printer and cash-drawer in the Manchester store. Being web-based means stock levels are always kept up-to-date. It also means that expansion into further stores can easily be accommodated by adding more hardwear, as the system also handles multiple stock locations. (Watch a video about the early development of the EPOS system.)
Being web-based, the system is able to link up your order history wether a purchase is made online or through the store. It can also handle partial payments, allowing people to pay for that lovely parka in instalments!
One of the unique features of the new design - which was immediately copied by several other websites - was our drop-bar menu. This allowed the client to retain the benefit of a traditional drop-down menu (access to a large number of links) without the usability problems they incur. The result was a great piece of functionality with full backwards compatibility.
We extended this concept even further, building a 'brands' menu that accommodates hundreds of Oi Polloi's brands into an alphabetical listing that is easy to use, completely standards compliant and which doesn't obscure the content you were currently viewing on the page. Needless to say, it was copied (badly) by the competition within weeks! Ours is lightweight and fully keyboard-accessible; their is a nasty table-based effort.
Giving feedback to the user at appropriate points is a vital part of a good user experience. For example, if you try to click the 'Add to Basket' button before selecting a size the text changes to 'Choose a size'. If you persist, the button shakes from side-to-side, mimicking the shaking of the head! It's a cute addition that makes more sense if you try it ;-)
When you do add something to your basket the whole page slides down to accommodate the basket view. This means nothing is obscured, and the eye is drawn to the basket which now persists until you either check out or remove the items.
E-commerce that doesn't suck
Our aim is to make the e-commerce process as painless as possible for the customer. We've all experienced dreadful e-commerce - often from some of the biggest players on the web! That's our motivation - to make websites that even we would like to use!