Retailers We Love is a series of blogposts where we geek out about ecommerce stores that really catch our fancy. They’re completely unsolicited.
ANTA sells Scottish fabric, stoneware, candles, furniture and other tartan-inspired products. Here’s what their store looks like.
We fell in love with their minimalist style immediately. Let’s break it all down:
1: Great product photos = great marketing.
We usually tell retailers to have a great slogan or to otherwise slap customers across the face with a clear message: “Here’s what we’re selling, and here’s why you should buy it.” It might seem like ANTA’s violating this rule: Where are the words?
They don’t need them. The slap is non-verbal. Look at the picture above, it speaks for itself. The photo itself looks like it belongs in an art gallery! They don’t need to say “Stylish Scottish Stoneware For Your Home” or anything of the sort. Such salesy copy might actually diminish the timeless, classy sheen that the pictures give the product.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they A/B tested their store with and without the sales pitch, and found that they get better sales without the bold, salesy copy. Alternatively, they might have been adamant all along that their products ought to be allowed to speak for themselves. (The Steve Jobs approach. If you’ve built something great, like an iPhone, you can leave out the “BUY NOW!!!”)
Great photos communicating attention to detail. If you take the trouble to take great pictures of what you’re selling, I instinctively suspect that you must have put a lot of work into making the product. I’ll also assume, rationally or otherwise, that you’re going to put that kind of effort into the selling process. I become more comfortable with the idea of giving you my money.
The opposite is also true. Cheap-looking, badly cropped-and-stretched photos suggest a sloppy attitude. What if you’re equally sloppy about shipping? Possibly not, but I’m not going to risk it. If you can’t be bothered to give your customers a great picture of what you want them to buy, you can’t expect them to be bothered to give you their money.
All else held constant, great pictures make your customers think more highly of both you and your product- almost unfairly so.
So take good pictures.
2: Deep specialization = competitive advantage.
ANTA sells all kinds of products, which is something we normally warn against. You don’t want to be that “Everything For Everybody”shop- you’ll get slaughtered by the big guys. Why would I buy a generic iPhone case from you, when I can either buy a really cheap one from a trusted platform like Amazon or eBay, or buy a specific case that suits my style and personality?
ANTA gets away with selling lots of stuff because all their products have a consistent theme and style. This works out powerfully in their favor, because someone might walk in looking to buy a teapot and find themselves both redesigning their entire apartment and doing all their christmas shopping at once.
Rather than trying to be everything for everybody, ANTA took the time and trouble to develop a foothold in a highly-specialized niche. This pays off.
3: A gorgeous Pinterest page makes the brand especially drool-worthy.
You can’t build a great Pinterest page without great products and great pictures, and ANTA’s got both of those. The going gets easier from there.
But ANTA takes it a step further than that. They have a Behind The Scenes page where you can see how their products are made with great attention to detail. They have pictures of the beautiful Scottish landscape in their region, both natural and man-made. It adds to the mythos and allure of the product. They even have recipes of food being made and served on their stoneware. That’s just evil, making us all hungry and jealous at how beautiful it all looks.
If you have a Pinterest page, or are thinking of starting one, ANTA’s example is a great one to follow. Don’t just brazenly sell your products- sell your culture, your lifestyle, your history, your heritage. Sell context. Sell your story.
Consider how difficult it would be for a competitor to steal ANTA’s business. The products are artisanal, so they’re going to be hard to replicate. Even if you’ve got that figured out, you’ll have to take great pictures. Even if you make up a story about the founders and the artists involved, you’ll have to get a great design running through the site. Despite all this, you’re going to have to put up a Recipe page on your Pinterest page with food lovingly made and served on your products.
Would you put in that much effort just to make some sales? Unlikely. The folks at ANTA clearly have a deep love for their craft, which is what consumers ultimately pay for. You can’t fake that, and so it derives immense value from scarcity. You can surely find cheap tartan products elsewhere, but quality and attention to detail is how ANTA rises above the competition.