If you’re like most people I know, you would consider clothes shopping to be a mostly social experience. For me, getting advice, healthy encouragement to try something new and accountability for my pocketbook from trusted friends is an integral part of my semi-annual wardrobe upgrade. So when retailer J Crew sent me a direct mail invitation to engage their in-house shopping expert, “Erica”, I decided to check her out.
My only options for contacting “Erica” were a toll-free phone number and e-mail address. Before doing either, I wanted to get a better sense for Erica’s style and experience. So of course, I immediately fired up my web browser to see what else I could learn.
My first stop was the J Crew Website. Immediately I was introduced to “Jenna” and “Jack” on the Home Page, but Erica was no where to be found. I scrolled down below the fold to the page footer, located the “Personal Shopper” link. But when I clicked, instead of meeting a personal shopping expert, I got – a form.
Next, I went searching for Erica on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Jenna (the creative director) and Jack (the style expert) showed up again on Facebook, Jack had his own YouTube video and none of the three appeared to be tweeting about their style knowledge or offering assistance to shoppers in search of Fall clothing staples.
Sorry, J Crew…but your personal shopper is starting to feel very “unpersonal”.
In about five minutes, I was able to search the social web and form an opinion about “Erica” and in this case, being socially MIA convinced me that she was likely a telesales operator who flipped through the catalog or made appointments with locally based personal shoppers in retail stores. Umm, gee – I can do that myself.
Brands, especially retailers need to understand this key point: not having an active social profile can be a huge deterrent in growing your relationship with your customers. Now, just imagine for a moment if J Crew and Erica had done the following:
Establish her point of view as a personal shopper/styling expert:
- Blog/BlogTalk Radio – Erica would feature weekly posts/podcasts on what’s in/out and how to get the most out of your JCrew purchases with other items in your closet
- Facebook Discussion Forums – Erica answering questions from the community about specific clothing items
Showcase how she’s helped other customers who might share similar style / shopping needs and challenges:
- Facebook and Flickr Photo Albums – Erica posting pictures of outfits she’s helped customers put together, plus ones of the actual customers she has helped
- YouTube Channel – Erica posting reels highlighting best of personal shopping tips for each season
Provide a toolkit that shoppers can take on the go and get on-demand advice:
- iPhone app with different color palette matching, a set of Erica’s style rules and ability to text questions and send snaps of items while shopping
Of course, if Erica herself was actually on Facebook or Twitter and I saw that she had helped people in my network – that alone would have prompted me to trust her enough to seek her out.
Our world continues to move
forward into a more open, real-time and connected social realm – brands need to
think beyond the traditional marketing communication piece and get on board or
get left behind.
Our world continues to move forward into a more open, real-time and connected social realm – brands need to think beyond the traditional marketing communication piece and get on board or get left behind.