Responses by Marten Kuipers, art director, Dept.
Background: Light fixture manufacturer Flos—Flos meaning “flower” in Latin—arose in 1960 from the idea to create objects that would change our way of living. Currently, it is undergoing a transformation towards direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales rather than selling to resellers. Flos needed a new e-commerce platform that was thought out to the smallest detail to succeed in this transformation. The brand chose our team at Dept to bring a Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform and the complete Flos experience to life.
Digitally bringing light to life is easier said than done. It is less about products and more about the experience. Due to the uniqueness of the Flos brand, the company opted for an ambitious direction regarding D2C and e-commerce. Together, we determined a strategy built around the following three pillars: authenticity, as customers want to feel that they are buying something special; ease, as customers want to feel that they can buy the complex, luxury product independently; and a sense of touch, as online platforms must get as close to the tactile feel of experience so that customers can make well-thought-out purchases.
Design core: Flos had a strong foundation to build on, ranging from a website to an Instagram account and magazines. These assets contained a mountain of valuable content, from beautiful photography to interviews with designers to videos and illustrations. It soon became apparent that content had to be the starting point; it had to be left with its original value as much as possible. As such, we didn’t put images in frames but used their original ratios so that images appear on the website in all shapes and sizes. The brand’s imagery and expressions are bold. To radiate a certain degree of boldness, we implemented big logos in the footer that open and close as statements, and we used big capital letters for page titles.
The website structure is based on different types of pages: pages on which designers are featured; Room pages, which hold inspiration for every room in the house; Story pages with information about new trends; and, of course, product pages.
Process: Over seven months from the discovery phase to deployment, we built a robust platform for Flos, perfecting the balance between brand, design, content and e-commerce. The website is now suitable for customers who want to buy a lamp from the store or a supplier—and, in either case, seek more information. This way, commerce and brand go hand in hand for Flos.
The D2C e-commerce platform went live on July 2021 in the United Kingdom and Spain, with other European countries and the United States following shortly. Flos is part of the furniture and lighting group Design Holding, which includes several brands. From the beginning of this project, the challenge was to create a framework that could be implemented across these multiple brands while maintaining their unique appearance. With the underlying strategy, content as a starting point and the role of light throughout the website, Flos has more than succeeded in creating a unique appearance. The current impressive D2C e-commerce experience shows that Flos enlightens from dark to light and from visitor to customer.
Navigational structure: With content as a starting point, we came a long way but hadn’t quite brought the experience of light to life. For that, we dove into physics. Light consists of three colors: red, green and blue. White light is only created when all three of these colors collide. We have taken this physical phenomenon as the basis for the entire color concept of the website. When you land on the homepage, it is dark because you don’t have a lamp yet. Through red, green and blue pages—Stories, Rooms and Designers—you then end up on lighter pages, such as the shopping cart and checkout. The gradient effect of light—the ever-present “noise”—is also visible in the background throughout the website. We implemented a light that follows the cursor’s movement on the site’s dark background, allowing visitors to illuminate parts of the website on which they want to focus. And while accessibility with such a visual style may seem challenging, the entire website adheres to AA accessibility guidelines.
Technology: We used Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC) to build the e-commerce environment. This platform offers a range of options and features for custom integrations, from a warehouse management system that checks whether products are actually in stock to the Salesforce Order Management System that handles the final order. In addition, MuleSoft is linked to retrieve data about product prices and current inventory, and the site also integrates Adyen to ensure a good payment gateway. HubSpot facilitates the sending of emails, and Microsoft Power BI lets the client extract management reports from the environment.
We also implemented Page Designer, a feature of SFCC that makes it easy for marketing departments to create content pages in a user-friendly environment. Elements can be cleverly added and changed based on drag and drop. Combined with the complete design system and brand book that we have set up, it is effortless for the Flos team to configure the entire webshop as desired.