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?


  1. Anonymous8:56 PM

    Check out QVC or HSN---they have highly paid dynamic quick-talking hosts who generate millions for them, but the best sales come when they have a charismatic designer, inventor, or company founder that shares their passion for the product being sold, explaining detail after detail in a way no oen memorizing a script can carry off. This almost always evokes an emotional response from the viewers.
    The trick is carrying that same passion to a web audience. Most websites look like catalogs because they feel limited---a few words at best on each product.
    Amazon is successful because EACH title has a ton of detail---publisher's review, user comments, table of contents, sneak peek at book, and of course the best part--"users who bought this book also liked these..."
    Most websites out there don't come close--particularly brick and mortar retailer websites. We were reviewing some at the office the other day and it was hilarious the sidebar items they offered up as "related" to one being purchased. A BBQ grill when you are looking at shoes, a home theater system when you are shopping for a guitar, etc.
    What's interesting is some sites throw up 3-5 millions skus on their website, as if they memorized Chris Anderson's book, and yet the sites make browsing or shopping tedious.


  2. One feature at Urban Outfitter's is to allow users to post pictures of themselves wearing the clothes they've bought-from a strictly limited, outside perspective, this seems to have a huge positive effect-a significant number of people trust "ordinary" models more than the store models. I would love to see numbers on this!

    Seems like human interaction provides a big benefit, regardless of whether those humans are from inside the company.

  3. All businesses that are web based can take advantage of the features of project management. Whether it's bake shop, bank, landscaping, or construction, the software will help all team leaders.


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Sameness: Tell Me Which Companies Are Selling The Products Here

You want to see a completely tepid, bland, homogenized shopping experience? Yes! Ok! Tell me the brands that are represented here. Good luck...