If you haven’t heard of Net-A-Porter don’t sweat it. But if you’re a fashionista, Net-A-Porter is possibly already part of your online fashion wardrobe. Here’s how Net-A-Porter positions themselves:

NET-A-PORTER.COM is the world’s premier online luxury fashion retailer. Our award-winning website, presented in the style of a fashion magazine, offers the style-savvy customer exactly what she wants – unprecedented access to the hottest looks of the season from international cutting-edge labels via worldwide express delivery.

The company has been around since 2000, and magazines like Vogue and W (both fashion magazine stalwarts) have touted Net-A-Porter’s innovative online work and eCommerce model.

NET-A-Porter’s online Experience

Net-A-Porter isn’t new to the digital magazine (or digital publishing) space. In fact, since 2001, they’ve been creating a weekly digital magazine designed to inspire fashion forward folks to browse the magazine and build a shopping cart while they peruse. It’s the equivalent of dog-earing content that you’re interested in buying later or finding at the store.

Check out the latest magazine online if you have a few minutes.

The Point of Inspiration

What’s inherent in Net-A-Porter’s concept is that they’ve brought the eCommerce experience as close as possible to the point of inspiration. The point of inspiration is the moment a consumer, reader, or magazine browser decides they’d like to learn more about a product or service that’s profiled. The closer (and more seamless) the shopping cart is to the point of inspiration, the higher the likelihood a consumer will make the purchase (and in fact the larger their cart will be).

Destroying the Experience

Unfortunately, in the online experience, I think Net-A-Porter has destroyed one of the key elements in creating a seamless experience. Here’s how:

Net-A-Porter ecommerce experience

Browsing the online magazine

As I browse the magazine, I see this outfit.

Net-A-Porter ecommerce experience

Click to Shop the Look

Remember, I’m in the magazine. I’m engaged, really enjoying my browsing experience in a linear fashion (flipping pages as I go). I decide I want to “Get The Look” and click the “Shop Now” button.

Net-A-Porter ecommerce experience

Now I’m shopping? No, I was browsing.

Suddenly, I’m thrust out of the ‘browsing’ experience and I’m pushed into ‘purchase’ mode. Net-A-Porter has completely ruined my experience. How do I get back to the magazine? What page was I on? What was on the next page? I didn’t want to be pulled out of the browsing experience, I simply wanted to add this to a “shopping cart” with the hopes of deciding later (after I finished browsing) what outfits I wanted to buy.

The iPad App is So Close

After my online experience, I downloaded the Net-A-Porter iPad app. Basically, the magazine experience is exactly the same. It’s an enjoyable experience and nicely engaging. Here’s a quick 2-minute video from Net-A-Porter that gives you a good idea of the experience on the iPad:

This app delivers a completely seamless browsing and shopping experience. I’m in magazine ‘reading mode’ while I consume the content. However, I’m constantly adding things to my shopping cart with the knowledge that at the end of the magazine I’ll determine which items I’d like to purchase. Every time I’m ‘inspired’ to take action, I can. Instead of ‘dog-earing’ or ‘bookmarking’ the content, I’m actually creating a shopping cart.

Unfortunately, none of their embedded videos worked for me. I tried a number of times before I decided none of them were going to work. Also, more than a few times I tried to add an “outfit” to my shopping cart, but the application provided me with hundreds of choices for the single outfit I was interested in. This completely ruined my reading experience. Suddenly I was forced to browse “similar” items instead of simply add the actual outfit.

eCommerce & Content for magazines and catalogs

If you’re in the magazine business, think about what the relationship is between your content and the point of inspiration for the products and services you create content about. If you’re a catalog company, think about the content that inspires action and gets your customers closer to larger carts and more sales.