Mr. Porter has set the proverbial bar high for online luxury retailers, so I had expectations of greatness when the Mr. Porter Global Treasure Hunt made its way to New York City last week. What was delivered, however, was a less than stellar experience that reveals some lessons about delivering a consistent digital experience online and off. Mr. Porter excels at offering a consistent, considered, online experience. Everything they create –from The Mr. Porter Post, to their online journal, to the tailored email I look forward to most in my inbox each week– is well-crafted, detail-oriented, and integrated into their larger strategy. It's some of the best shit out there and one of the reasons I hang out on their website more than most, even when I'm not shopping. I expected just as much from the Mr. Porter Global Treasure Hunt.
The idea behind the hunt is a simple one: Download GoldRun –an augmented reality iOS app– head to a location marked on a map, snap a photo, share with friends, and earn a reward for your participation. What came of it, though, was an experience out of character for Mr. Porter.
Not A Whole Lot of Hunting
Within an hour of the game going live,I was out the door and had made my way to the location nearest me – The American Thread Company, located in the historic American Thread Building in TriBeca. Upon arrival, I looked up and down for an object I thought Mr. Porter had planted for players to engage with. This is a treasure hunt after all, so I was looking for something eponymous with Mr. Porter's brand sensibilities and which looked like it would appeal to Mr. Porter shoppers.
After a few minutes of doddling around the lobby (where I was rudely dismissed by building security), I snapped a photo of the building's exterior on a whim. A virtual Mr. Porter bag appeared on screen. I sent it through to the application, and unlocked a promo code for free NY Premier shipping on my next order. Fair enough– not the most compelling experience, but more than nothing.
Thinking there was more to unlock I walked to the next closest destination, The Standard Hotel, and went through the same process only to find... the same promotion I unlocked 30 minutes ago. Since the rules prevented me being rewarded with free shipping more than once, the incremental value of continuing this hunt was effectively zero. I gave up and returned to the office, leaving two locations unvisited.
Not A Whole Lot Of Treasure
On the whole, the Treasure Hunt lacked the continuity, polish, and personalized approach Mr. Porter usually delivers. What is most disappointing is that the event suffered from some flaws common to many digital ventures.
1. The cost of participation outweighed the potential rewards. The perceived value of participating in the treasure hunt was the chance to win some awesome apparel from Mr. Porter, from Lanvin shoes to Paul Smith cuff links. These prizes are available to participants not by completing the hunt, however, but by signing up to participate and being entered in a sweepstake. Since you are entered as soon as you sign up, the value of the additional effort of completing the hunt is effectively zero. Free shipping, while not an insignificant prize in itself, is only available once, and as such the hunt effectively ends at the first location you visit.
The prizes available are reasonably valuable, so it is not difficult to understand why they are being offered via sweepstake than as rewards for participation, but ventures like this need to provide rewards that compel participation. Had different rewards been available at different locations, I would have visited them all. An event like this provides fun opportunities for Mr. Porter to partner with either the destination businesses (The Standard would have been an ideal partner) or with services that facilitate travel between them. For example, it would have been fun to set up shuttles between destinations for Mr. Porter customers to demo Uber, a bad ass, on-demand car service.
2. There was little feedback or narrative to drive me forward. Other than the initial instructions, the application provided little guidance or feedback about my progress through the hunt. Despite being a treasure hunt, there were no brand appropriate clues to uncover or decipher. There was little feedback from the application about what to do at a location, leaving me waving my phone around in the air and annoying security at The American Thread Company. I can accept that the application chosen isn't set up to deliver a rich narrative experience (Mr. Porter didn't build a custom app, nor should they necessarily have), but the lack of guidance works to the detriment of the entire experience. The level of customer service Mr. Porter customers have fallen in love with was missing too and in fact, came through most clearly when visiting the various destinations. Even when I unlocked the promo code through the app there was no indication that it had been transferred to my Mr. Porter account. That tight integration Mr. Porter normally has wasn't there this time.
3. Lack of integration with existing customer profiles. This is perhaps the greatest letdown I experienced. GoldRun didn't connect with my existing customer history– the application didn't know I am a founding member of Mr. Porter (I have been using the site since very early in its life), my purchase history, or even my name. While there are undoubtedly privacy concerns with releasing too much customer history, data like this could have been used to bring the hunt inline with my experience with Mr. Porter online. Instead, I needed to start a brand new account, effectively forcing me to restart my relationship with the brand. Rather than feeling right at home, I actually felt distant from the brand.
Integration, Integration, Integration
This last point is a regular source of frustration with many of the digital experiences brands offer. The lack of consistency and coherence, especially when you start deviating from your browser and start playing with the mobile and tablet apps companies build, is not only a frustration but a missed opportunity for brands. It results in the blooming of multiple pockets of experience rather than the creation of a coherent digital profile.
If you're building something similar, take a step back and think through if you're matching the experience you're designing with the expectations you've already set with your customers. I promise they'll be thrilled to see you take the time to make their life easy.