June 03, 2010

J. Crew and Rue La La

Want to make a good use of the next ten minutes? Give this transcript a read ... J. Crew pumped-out 18% pre-tax profit last quarter. In case you didn't know, that's not an easy accomplishment. Ten percent pre-tax profit is often considered a gold standard in apparel retailing ... in my sixteen years at Lands' End, Eddie Bauer, and Nordstrom, the companies I worked for only exceeded 10% four times (I think three of the times were at Nordstrom). Just read the merchandising passion they exude in a boring investor conference call.

And then there is Rue La La --- debuting apps: Don't tell me that "... that doesn't apply to us, we're not some low price auction brand, our customers are different, they love sitting in front of the fireplace thumbing through a catalog that has been sitting on the coffee table for twelve weeks" ... that's an excuse to not even try, folks. It is pretty obvious now that the future isn't e-commerce. If I am running an e-commerce division, I want my customer to hold my brand in her hand at all times ... anything short of that and we're just clinging to the past.

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