Heat waves always inspire me to get more serious about iced tea (I’m pretty serious about tea in all temperatures). In an ongoing search for a good iced tea pitcher, I found this Takeya Iced Tea Maker with Avocado Lid and Silicone Handle in Olive on Wayfair.com, the product of CSN Stores combining its many niche retail sites into one megastore. A gutsy move, yes, but is it a smart one? Let’s let the merchandising answer that question.
The introduction: 1 ping
“One pitcher does it all.”
What is this, Lord of the Rings tribute text? The only thing the first sentence succeeds in is mentioning the product, in the most general sense.
“The AcraGlass® offers glass-like clarity that doesn’t stain or hold odors like plastic.”
And the second sentence actually says: “AcraGlass gives you glass-like clarity. Glass-like clarity doesn’t stain or hold odors.” This sentence suggests that clarity, an intangible quality of some materials, can be stained. And hold odors. Is the main point conveyed? Sure. Is the main point conveyed with any amount of finesse? No. In fact, there’s more competence to be found at early 90s Mormon talent shows than on this digital-age retail giant’s website.
Informative copy: 3 pings
Wayfair has done what many lazy e-tailers do–used vendor copy verbatim on its own site. The problems with this are vendor copy usually needs improving and is written for the context of the vendor site. Errors and sloppy language abound in the bullet-like, one-paragraph description of this tea maker (a term not even mentioned until the first feature bullet). And yet, I gave the copy 3 pings because there was a lot of good product information. It just required more work from the reader than is reasonable.
The feature bullets themselves seem to be the product of Wayfair’s own merchandising attempt; now I know why they went with vendor copy for the rest. For no discernible reason, it’s very important to this retailer that we all know what the greens of the pitcher’s lid and handle are called. One bullet in the middle is nearly twice as long as all the others; you can see what I think of that in the screenshot on the right.
I was (very briefly) surprised to see an unfamiliar form of tea, “baffed.” Then I identified the typo. And look! The website is prepared to deal with such errors:
I wonder what it means that this product has three reviews but no one has bothered to report the error (or perhaps no one has bothered to correct it).
Wayfair also departed from the vendor’s product information with their title, which includes colors for two specific parts of the pitcher: avocado and olive. In fact, I started comparing this page to the vendor’s information because I was sure there must be other color options and sought out the vendor website to find them (there aren’t). I feel mislead.
Effective images: 2 pings
The two product images are most effective at displaying the slight color difference between the handle and lid. They are less effective at enhancing the description of the product by showing us certain features, such as the twist-off infuser or leakproof lid. Wayfair is oddly obsessed with hues of green.
What I’m buying: 0 pings
Unlike clothing, this product comes with parts. And anything that comes with parts, even if it’s not battery operated, deserves a What’s in the Box section of some sort.
Design: 3 pings
There’s only so much an online retail superstore can do to differentiate its design from other online superstores, so it comes down to details like where the white space is, how shipping information is displayed, and what happens when you hover over images. And, like so many websites of late, Wayfair has the dreaded pop-up zoom–if you mouse over an image, intentionally or not, a large zoom frame appears, obscuring price, shipping information, and the buy button to the right of the image. The more I see this, the more I think it’s a design faux pas.
I’m also dissatisfied with the discrepancy in shipping information. The page includes a “ships by” date and a “delivery estimates” link. The shipping date that link delivers is one business day after the one on the page (I tested this multiple days last week, it’s not an isolated error).
Final score: 2 pings
Maybe the retailer thinks naming colors after food makes a product cooler, but I think it’s just confusing (especially in the kitchen section). I didn’t check out the multitude of specialized shopping sites that came before Wayfair.com, but I don’t think we can call this successful rebranding yet.
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