Consumers Have Never Been More Comfortable Shopping E-Commerce. How Do Brands Stay Digitally Relevant?

In the case of En Place, the newly debuted travel-meets-shopping venture from creative consultant (and former Vanity Fair editor) Alexis Kanter, elevating the customer experience means predicting consumers’ desires to buy—and being, as its name suggests, in the right place to capture the sale. Consider it the hotel gift shop 2.0: Partnering with boutique hotels across the world, the site gathers artisan goods spotted during a stay—Oaxacan ceramic vessels, Moroccan rugs, and Ghanese woven light fixtures included—on one shoppable platform. For an even more transportive experience, inspiring travel guides and hotel reservations can also be accessed through the site as well. The brand’s next phase, Kanter previews, will include having an on-site presence at the locales, pitching it “as reimagining the hotel gift shop. Instead of a small room limited to a few categories, why not expand that and apply it to the whole property?”

Like En Place, the Nopo highlights its global roster of artisans through an editorial lens with tastemaker-led travel stories and a deeper look at the makers’ processes. Recently, the site also launched the The Nopo Design Society, a series of designer-curated edits that kicked off with picks from Kathy Kuo, Karen Wolf, and Urbanology’s Ginger Curtis. “It happened organically because we kept getting more inquiries from designers looking to source unique products for their customers,” Breakstone Roth says of the program, which offers affiliate revenue to collaborators.

Moroccan designer Soufiane Aissouni, whose work is featured on The Nopo.

Photography courtesy The Nopo

Despite human behaviors evolving, companies can take some solace knowing consumer shifts are relatively gradual—in comparison to the pendulum swings of design trends, that is. What’s clear: “Consumers are expecting faster fulfillment, and they’re expecting smoother transactions,” says Kanter. “But [at the same time], they’re increasingly aware of sustainability issues and want to shop brands that share their ethos and values—and they’re willing to pay more.”

It’s those beyond-expected ideas that draw consumers in, from offering access to new categories or markets to creating engaging content and collaborations, or offering a top-notch—nay, next-level—trade experience online. And doing so, as Rebecca Atwood, En Place, and The Nopo exhibit, in a handsome digital package intentional about its branding, graphics, and narrative. Because social media such as Instagram and Pinterest have value, “but you want to drive people back to your site,” Atwood says. “The website is a living, breathing thing.”