Case Studies - Product Design

How Kokuyo Camlin’s Website Combines Commerce & Community

Bombay Design Centre partnered with Kokuyo Camlin to create a site that goes beyond a sales channel to create a platform for artists.

8 Mobile screens with different screenshots of Kokuyu Camlin new website

Generations of Indians have grown up with Camlin stationery and Camel art products.

In 2013, Japanese firm Kokuyo completed its acquisition of majority stake in the company, rebranding it to Kokuyo Camlin. Currently, they retail their portfolio of 2000+ products through 12,000 stores across the country. The company’s website, however, was in serious need of an update.

As they focused on transforming their digital experience, Kokuyo Camlin partnered with Bombay Design Centre (Bombay DC) to create a site that would serve not just as a channel for their products, but a platform for the artist community.

Screenshot of Old Kokuyu Camlin website
The Kokuyo Camlin website before the redesign
Screenshot of Kokuyu Camlin home page showing Camel art supplies
The Kokuyo Camlin website after the redesign

Understanding Artist Needs

The Bombay DC team started out by defining the value proposition of the new digital experience. Four months of research/hypothesis validation led to the following insights:

  1. Artists wanted a safe place online where they could connect with the community, get feedback from seniors and peers and find inspiration. 
  2. They mostly searched for art techniques and tutorials on YouTube 
  3. They had never seen 1000+ art products under one roof

Based on these insights, the redesigned site combines education, inspiration and shopping.

Showcasing the Product Portfolio

Kokuyo Camlin’s extensive product portfolio has been structured coherently for easy navigation – from paints to drawing materials and canvases to brushes.

The user journey is enriched with pro-tips on products, glossaries and information on related techniques.

A Hobby Art section allows users to buy the basket of supplies needed for a hobby. (For example, the correct paints, mediums and brushes to make a graphic on your old denim jacket). There is also a dedicated space for kids products.

Screenshot Kokuyu Camlin site showing Hobby section
A Hobby section allows you to buy the basket of products for a particular activity

Says Ankur Rander, Founder & CEO of Bombay Design Centre, “When we started work on this platform, we were skeptical about matching Amazon’s delivery or discounts, but research showed that artists were not looking for faster delivery. Instead, the availability of products from a large range of 1000+ art supplies to the smallest towns was more important. No one had ever seen the entire Camel range in one place ever, in the last nine decades. Clear and expert information about the product was more important. Product combinations that helped them improve their work were more important.”

Currently, the site does not offer native e-commerce and the purchase must be completed on Amazon. Several products are only available offline. There are plans to add e-commerce functionality as part of the roadmap.

Learn Something New

The site offers an educational section on art, which has content ranging from ‘How To’ guides to art history. While the volume is limited, the content feels like it is written to add value and not just bring in clicks.

Screengrab showing educational content from Kokuyu Camlin website
The educational section on the site has content from DIY tips to Art history

Creating a Community

Rishi Kakar, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Kokuyo Camlin says, “We are inviting professional artists, hobbyists, young artists, kids, parents, and teachers to be a part of this community and enjoy its benefits. Our aim is to build the world’s largest art community out of India. We want this platform to be useful for artists and did not approach it from the lens of just another sales channel.” 

In the Artist Gallery section, users are able to upload and share their work. They can also follow the work of other artists.

Over 760 artists have signed up to the community with 100+ artworks uploaded in just about 2 weeks of beta-launch

Screenshot of Kokuyu Camlin website showing Art Gallery page where artists can upload their artwork
The site attempts to be a destination for the amateur artist community, by allowing them to share their work

Like a Store, But Better

The Bombay DC team has chosen a black and white neutral palette to showcase the colourful products. A big part of the exercise was the photography and content creation for over 1000+ art supplies, which needed to maintain consistency. Most consumers are used to buying these products in stores which is why the imagery and content had to match up to a physical experience.

Deepak Salvi, Associate Director of UI Design at Bombay DC says they tried various styles but finally settled on “no style at all.” The neutral palette was chosen to help the brand’s colourful products stand out. The prescribed house style is Neue Montreal by type foundry Pangram Pangram, selected for its versatility in scaling from large headings to body copy.

Gif showing differenr screenshots of Camel art products
The neutral palette acts as a foil for the colourful products

Siddhesh Pednekar, Head of Business, Bombay Design Centre, adds that while the team will continue to analyse and manage this platform, the design decisions have been carefully calibrated to be timeless.

The Tech Underneath

The technology architecture has been developed in-house at Bombay DC and the site uses a custom-built content management system. Girish Agarwal, Associate Director, Technology & Product Management, Bombay Design Centre says that “Broken UI reduces trust in a site” and the fact that Bombay DC takes responsibility for both front and back end, translates into a more seamless experience.

The Results

While it is early days, the results since the beta launch are promising.

  • Time spent on the platform has gone up from 1.4 min to 5.5 mins.
  • The average user views seven pages per session, a rise of 63%.
  • The bounce rate has decreased to 40%.
  • Click Through Rates (CTR) on Google search are up by +58%.

THC Take

While several brands have failed to conquer the holy grail of building online communities, Kokuyo Camlin has the advantage of long-standing events like the Camel Art Foundation Contest, which sees large-scale participation offline. Building on this foundation gives them an edge. Whether the site goes beyond a sales or storytelling channel and turns into a thriving community for amateur artists depends – as always – on how much value members derive from it.

3 Comments

  1. Good to see camlin products in one place. In art and craft it’s always interesting to now whats new. This will serve well.

  2. Good to see a firm combine back end chops with good front end design. Very rare. Visuald design for most product design firms sucks big time

  3. Great case study. disagree with your take though. Not everyone needs to build a big community. This gives KC a good platform to hold contests etc and that’s more than most brands do

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