Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Learning that product rules... still.

The news today that GAP will close its Fourth & Towne stores probably shouldn't come as a surprise to most in the retail world. GAP is really struggling with what it wants to be when it grows up. This is well documented with the shake-up at the top, having designers and CEO's leave, etc.

What is interesting about GAP however is that while they have struggled in their stores, their online sales continue to grow (or at least had... they've got numbers coming out any day now that could change that trend). They have a very well documented modern eCommerce infrastructure... and they've rolled out new brands like Piperlime to take advantage of that. Fourth & Towne on the other hand... was a ''brick first, online second" play by GAP. At the time it debuted back in August of 05... the thought was that their target market wanted goods multi-channel. Heck... I remember when it came out... I was saying "smart move" because of their approach for the market. So... what happened?

GAP's products... almost across the board (with the exception of Banana Republic) have been getting HAMMERED as ordinary... or just not exciting... by customers and analysts alike. Piperlime on the other hand is really selling other peoples' products... again a new step for GAP in a lot of ways. Only the Banana product seems to be catching the fancy of their target.

The lesson here is... the best infrastructure can't make up for inferior product. You have to have Trend-right product... in the retail industry... to succeed as a multi-channel retailer... a pure-play... or a brick only variety. It applies to almost all market segments... verticals, etc. Keep that in mind when you're working on that next big ecommerce effort. Don't expect your platform... your usability studies... or your Web 2.0 widgets to make up for bad product. They CAN contribute to the experience... but they can't make up for your BRAND Experience.

Love to hear from you. Comment on this.. or any post... or MEEBOME using the blank to the right when you see I'm online. Cheers!

No comments: