March 08, 2010

Point of View: J. Crew

This near-depression certainly taught us that the methods we were supposed to implement to grow a business profitably weren't effective. For instance, we learned that it is probably a bad idea to expand into retail and be saddled with huge levels of long-term debt when 20% of the economy falls out from under you ... turns out that fabled multi-channel customer that vendors and consultants told us to pursue couldn't cover the interest on the debt.

So for the next few weeks, we're going to take a peek at what companies are doing online to create a "point of view" ... what are companies doing online to differentiate themselves from the competition? I'm not saying any of this is going to "work" for you ... the goal of the series is to simply illustrate what other companies are doing.

Let's start with J. Crew. Take a look at their "Who's That Girl" feature (click here). Most specialty apparel retailers are essentially selling the same thing at the same price. J. Crew is taking a different approach, featuring a few of the creative folks, letting you get to know them and their point of view.

Humans make a difference, folks. In any Multichannel Forensics project or Online Marketing Simulation, I repeatedly find that long-term customer value increases significantly when a customer has an interaction with a real human being.

Here, J. Crew is introducing you to some of the human beings that work behind the scenes. If all things are equal, and you're buying the same item from Gap or J. Crew, maybe you buy it from J. Crew because you know a little bit more about the people behind the scenes, who knows?

It's certainly worth testing, isn't it?