Brand Experience Breakdown: One Creative’s Analysis of Design at Home While Designing At Home

Editor’s Note: Consumer spending behavior changed rapidly in early 2020. People began making the bulk of their purchases online as states and stores shut down due to a public health emergency that was sweeping the nation. This is part of a series of articles that highlight elements of a consumer’s ecommerce shopping experience. 

Being stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts made me acutely aware of something (aside from how many ½ finished home improvement projects I had waiting for me): how much paper waste our household was creating. 

On one hand, I’m incredibly grateful that my worst concern so far has turned out to be the sheer impossibility of finding paper towels. On another hand, we were down to rationing. 

Buying reusable items started to become much more of a focus for me—I wanted to use fewer paper products, reduce trips to the store, and become more sustainable. So I went looking for new kitchen towels. 

Enter: The Bali Market 

The Bali Market was a finalist for Klaviyo’s 2019 Owned Growth Stories contest. I’ll admit this isn’t the usual way I find out about new brands (though it’s not that rare for Klaviyos to share the customers they love with each other), but I’ve had my eye on them ever since first hearing about them. 

The Bali Market is a direct-to-consumer (DTC) home goods brand that specializes in Turkish beach and bath towels. 

I’m a designer by trade and it definitely plays out in the way I choose products. Utility and aesthetic are equally important to me, which is why I was immediately attracted to The Bali Market.

While I was already interested in The Bali Market, I had no idea if they actually sold kitchen towels. The first time I visited their website, I was looking to find out if their towels would work for what I needed, which meant I had to dig around a bit to better understand the brand and their product offering. 

My onsite experience

The Bali Market’s site is friendly and easy to find your way around. 

I was looking for something that indicated a specific use for kitchen towels when I landed on the website and couldn’t find it, so I just clicked on a product page to learn more about the towels. 

Once I started poking around, it showed their hand towels being used a lot of ways in the product photography, including in kitchens, so I felt confident they would work for the problem I was trying to solve.

Being that I typically buy towels largely based on their texture, the next thing I really wanted to know was how they feel. 

I’ve never seen a Turkish towel before. The Bali Market’s website was really effective at conveying a quality standard to their products as well as the tactical experience. You can’t touch or feel anything when buying online because, well, websites. 

But The Bali Market used a lot of descriptive copy, images, social proof, and expectation setting (“It will get softer as you use it”) to explain the feel and texture. 

Additionally, the social feed from Instagram gave me something to reference the site’s product photography against, so I could see what the texture looked like from other customers’ pictures without being able to experience it first hand. I felt pretty jazzed that these would be good for both the use and the aesthetic I was looking for. 

While The Bali Market site shows “Related Products” at the bottom of the product page, the site didn’t make any kind of overly aggressive cross- or up-sell while browsing. I did end up adding their utility towels after just stumbling across them while browsing because they seemed useful for yoga, hiking, or a blanket.

I didn’t need a lot of push to buy more because I felt well informed on the value, but at the same time, I probably wouldn’t have found the extra item if I didn’t take it upon myself to explore the website more. 

If I had one item of feedback for their onsite experience, I’d say The Bali Market has an opportunity to showcase more of their products to new customers. Even though their catalog is more curated, they could promote best sellers instead of related products, since it might help with validation for new buyers like me. 

How The Bali Market communicated with me throughout the buying experience 

Before checking out, I was curious about The Bali Market’s email strategy, so I signed up for their email list, browsed a few different products, and then abandoned my cart for a couple of days to see what happened. Let’s call it an occupational curiosity.

In order to do this, I needed to create an account to save my cart. When I landed on the account page, there were two forms. One for the account creation and the other for the email sign up. 

This is a great time to ask new customers to join the mailing list, but with two forms on the same page, it was a little confusing as to whether the checkbox and the form below were the same or not. 

Since I was deliberately exploring, I did what most people typically wouldn’t doI signed up with both forms. I created an account (without checking the box) and signed up for the mailing list as well. 

I was worried that, because I signed up and created an account through a general form, I would receive a lot of overlapping emails, which had happened with other brands I’ve bought from in the past. But I was pleasantly surprised the cadence of the emails served as non-intrusive reminders.

Their welcome series is strong content-wise. The first email was straightforward with a promotion for a free candle. I also liked the next email in the series, which featured some more social proof. Both of these welcome series touchpoints were effective ways to encourage a second purchase. 

They seem to experiment with different types of emails, although the brand experience was a little different between them.

For example, their abandoned cart series was humorous and quirky, featuring Parks and Rec references, babies, and satirical “email from your old towel.” 

Their lighthearted approach is really fun (the towel email was especially entertaining). Although it didn’t 100 percent jive with how I understood their brand up to this point, it was engaging. Plus, the product reminders were a good addition.  

I did miss seeing their logo at the top of the email though. This is usually a good way to reinforce the brand in all of their communications. 

The checkout and post-purchase process

Once my account was set up and I had the items I wanted in my cart, the check out process was really quick and user-friendly overall. 

I only ran into one small hiccup. When I clicked through one of the abandoned cart emails I received, it brought me back to the homepage without anything showing up in my cart and I got a little concerned that I might have to re-add some items. 

Turns out, I just had to log in and everything was there, so it was no big deal. But going to a login page might have been a little clearer. 

After placing my order, I got an email confirmation immediately and a shipping confirmation quickly after. 

A day later, I got a follow-up email with some helpful tips for once the towels come in the mail, including care instructions, which were nice to know ahead of time. 

Two days after that, I also got a VIP promotion with a $10 credit offer. This email was a great choice to send to first-time customers and I’d definitely consider purchasing again from the brand knowing I have credit to use.

The towels were delivered pretty quickly even considering there had been delivery delays in my area at the time. Nine days after I placed my order, I got an email telling me that it was out for delivery and, shortly after, that it had been delivered. 

This delivery email also included a prompt to post a photo of my towel on Instagram, which was a really smart touch to encourage me to share user-generated content

About a week later, I also received a request to review the product. The wording of the email was really sincere and genuine and the email was highly visual, making it more likely for me to engage. Overall, The Bali Market really nailed their transactional emails.

 

The unboxing experience

When my order arrived, the outside of the box was packaged with cute branded tape, so I knew immediately it was from The Bali Market. 

I appreciated how their packaging gives a subtle nod to the brand before even opening the box, which is a unique DTC experience that not all brands take advantage of or can take advantage of if they’re selling through a third-party marketplace, like Amazon. 

When I opened the package, I was charmed to find everything neatly wrapped in bright teal tissue paper with a card on top that turned out to be a handwritten note! This would have been lovely on a normal day, but it was an especially personal touch after not having been able to see anyone outside of text and Zoom for weeks. 

The Bali Market clearly puts a lot of thought and care into the unboxing experience and it was a really nice connection to the brand. 

I followed the directions from the email on washing and drying properly and the towel has been put to work in my kitchen ever since. 

I’ve been particularly enjoying the utility towel for my (still) at-home yoga sessions and for hanging out on the patio. And it is, indeed, as soft as promised (even if my cat isn’t allowed on it because fur tends to be challenging to remove). 

Impressions of my overall experience buying from The Bali Market

While there are some opportunities in their design experience to reinforce their brand, The Bali Market plays to its strengths by being charming and personable in their touchpoints with the customer. 

As a first-time buyer, I was able to accurately understand the product I was getting from the consideration they put into detailed product pages, descriptions, and the use of social proof. 

Good communication and a lot of care go into their customer experienceboth digital and physicalwhich really came through to me as I searched for the newest addition to my kitchen. 

Interested in more brand breakdowns? Find out one entrepreneur’s experience buying a laptop for his business.

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