INTERNET RETAILING IN STORE – SCORE 8/25
Seeing as the Regent Street area is so competitive with in-store propositions such as Burberry , Zara and Topshop – J.Crew does not currently offer a standout or highly competitive proposition in terms of multichannel or digital in-store. The offer is currently limited to a few iPads in store (behind the tills) that sales assistants can use to check stock or help customers order from the website. UK high-street staples like click & collect, returns to store and mobile are not yet present, but that said it is early days, and over time we would hope that J. Crew can start to recreate the multichannel infrastructure and joined up proposition that they enjoy in the USA.
J. Crew’s digital-in-store offer is currently limited to a few iPads in store (behind the tills) that sales assistants can use to check stock or help customers order from the website. As the UK site is a semi-localised version of the US site, UK customers, like their US counterparts, are able to order from the extended online ranges but only for home delivery. At present there is no click & collection option.
Multichannel messaging is practically non-existent throughout the store; and there is little mention of the URL or multichannel services in any of the store signage. Even the useful extended range online ordering facility is not promoted; so customers would only find out about this if they approached a sales assistant to specifically ask about something they had seen online that was not in store. It is reported that J. Crew website has a decent size extended range so they are definitely missing a trick with UK consumers who are now very accustomed to in-store ordering on the high street.
In the US, the proposition is more joined up (albeit because it is more mature), with even the call centre accessible from stores with a big red phone that customers are able to use to order products from online or the catalogue. J. Crew is also pretty hot with customer data and works hard to capture names to grow its subscriber base. In the UK the catalogue is available by the tills but assistants do not capture customer email addresses when they transact in the way that similar US retailers like Abercrombie or Banana Republic do in store.
UK online orders cannot yet be returned to stores and must be shipped back to the USA which could pose a potential barrier for some customers who are used to quick and convenient in-store returns. As it is early days for the brand, there is not yet any use of Wi-Fi / mobile app to bridge the gap between channels as commonly seen on the rest of the high street.
Seeing as the Regent Street area is so competitive with in-store propositions such as Burberry, Zara and Topshop – J.Crew does not currently offer a standout proposition in terms of digital in-store. That said in-store digital excellence makes a brand memorable, but it is the product & price that will ultimately decide if a retailer will be successful and be able to drive traffic on a longer-term basis.
The store experience fails to give the digital channels the visibility they enjoy in the US, missing the opportunities to recruit and establish a multichannel customer base. J Crew have clearly focused efforts on getting the first UK stores up and running, but the full multichannel infrastructure is yet to be established.