Digital Shopping Trend: Simplicity

by / Tuesday, 18 March 2014 / Published in Shopper Science



“Creators have to be willing to take an axe to things that aren’t 100% necessary.” – Michael Janiak, Creative Director @ Fluid

In our interview, Mike keeps it short and sweet. And simple. Which happens to exemplify his point and isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

His digital shopping trend: Simplicity


[Amy] What’s your standout digital shopping trend for 2014?
[Michael] Just one? Simplicity.

We’re going to hit a point where too much stuff is being crammed into shopping experiences and the reaction is going to be negative. The shopping experience needs to be simple. Simple doesn’t mean boring.

[Amy] Who’s going to react?
[Michael] Agencies. Retailers. Consumers. It’s coming to a boiling point. The switch is going to have to flip – there are too many social + shopping + start-ups + services doing the same things with different names. It’s going to come to a head.

[Amy] How do you see this impacting design?
[Michael] I think the impact will be positive. It puts design in the front seat – instead of tactics.

We typically strive for clarity anyway so doesn’t change our day-to-day a lot at Fluid. We need to remain cognizant of what people are looking for – benefits, convenience and engagement – and express it through our user experience and visual design.

[Amy] What excites you about this trend?
[Michael] It forces us to think about and focus on the few things that are important.

[Amy] What’s unique about simplicity in digital vs. somewhere else?
[Michael] Digital been around a long time and we’re just starting to get to point of simplicity. Experiences have been confusing and interfaces have been hacky. The industry in just starting to grasp how to hide complex functions behind a simple interface

[Amy] Why does simplicity matter in shopping?
[Michael] It supports the notion of convenience and that’s why people shop online.

[Amy] If you’re a retailer, how do you make the hard trade-off decisions to achieve simplicity?
[Michael] In a perfect world, there is one person, or a small group, in charge of that kind of stuff. Simplicity needs to be a corporate goal – like increasing profits 10%. Retailers need to get the right people in the room, lay simplicity out as a priority and get behind it and either get behind it or get out of the way.

[Amy] Who’s doing simplicity well?
[Michael] Everlane is doing it incredibly well – from the stories that they tell to their emails to their check-out process. They have simple, elegant solutions that never lose the feeling of their brand and what they stand for. They nail it.

[Amy] What does simplicity mean for Fluid this year?
[Michael] It means creating and building the best and most focused experiences that we possibly can -without over-architecting or over-designing.

[Amy] How do you measure the success of simplicity? Or do you?
[Michael] You measure it the same way you measure other goals and objectives. I think there’s also a sense that it’s successful if it contributes. At the end of the day, look at everything you’ve done and see if there are patterns of successful experiences.

[Amy] Talk about how simplicity is influenced by mobile.
[Michael] Responsive and adaptive design are on the rise and they require focus. Content has to scale to different devices. Creators have to be willing to take an axe to things that aren’t 100% necessary. Before mobile and tablet you could get away with having everything. You can’t anymore – for performance and design reasons.

Right now with the form factor, you don’t get the rich viewing experience of what you want to buy when you’re on mobile. Checkout sucks. Filling out forms sucks. Buying happens on mobile when the timing is right – when the consumer has made up their mind to buy.

[Amy] Any other stands you want to take for 2014?
[Michael] I think there is a lack of creative thinking in the world of retail. Retailers are lagging behind in how they think about, and how they use, new technologies. Start-ups are thriving. NastyGal came out of nowhere and they get it. In traditional retail I see a fear of risk and a lack of creativity.

[Amy] How can Fluid be part of a solution to that problem?
[Michael] It’s on us to overshoot initially with ideas that seem too crazy – ideas that push boundaries but could still be delivered. We also need to do a better job of breaking things down so we can help retailers incrementally build to bigger ideas and experiences. We can work with one cog in the wheel and start to influence the whole system.

[Amy] What was the last thing you bought online?
[Michael] Two gifts for my wife from Macy’s.