Is your webshop too functional? JTBD* as the key to omnichannel success.

Customer Profiles

Posted by Bart Muskala

Most brands understood long ago that being a fashion brand is about offering access to a lifestyle, inducing positive feelings, supporting confidence or many more emotional benefits. Brand promises and taglines support this understanding. Just like there is more to fashion than buying clothes, brands need to understand how shoppers make decisions: shopping with friends, shopping for fun, bargain hunting or shopping online to reach that ‘I-desperately-need-a-cocktail-dress’-deadline are all different jobs-to-be-done requiring different efforts from brands.

The insights that push towards change

Both the list of obstacles and the benefits of the case for omnichannel seem endless. New findings from our recent Belgian Fashion Research study add elements to both lists. Although the simple answer is most probably to have a strong e-presence as a fashion brand, the more complex answer is that it depends on your customer base, your potential base and what the jobs-to-be-done are you fulfil.

The main insight revealed however is that a functional job-to-be-done is mostly provided by offline channels where peripheric locations are over performing (twice as important!) and - counterintuitively - online is under performing. Social shopping - having fun with friends - attracts mainly an “offline first” or even “pure offline” audience just like functional jobs-to-be-done does.

The efforts to ignite change

As fashion brands we were somewhat later to jump the e-tail wagon, with e-commerce software focused on selling goods (e.g. books or electronics) rather than feeding emotions. New - pure players - like Zalando or Vente Exclusive have been developing and perfecting their online stores for years based on strong customer insights. They have too found that the functional approach provided by filters, pictures of goods, rankings and reviews are only serving basic needs.

True needs of online buyers are - even more than for offline buyers - to be inspired and presented looks over clothes, feelings over goods, settings over articles. Social channels like Pinterest or Instagram are embraced by most brands as a means to this end. But brands shouldn’t stop there, just like e-tailers don’t.

Knowing that social shopping attracts an offline audience and shopaholics with a strong inspiration and experience need are mainly “online first” buyers, this presents omnichannel retailers with the difficult job to spread their “experience budgets” on both off- & online channels.

The key takeaways from this story

The perfect strategy depends on your brand’s customers and your promise. Primark chooses a strong “emotional” e-presence without selling any “goods” online, while other more functional (peripheric) brands might still opt for a more functional approach even online next to boosting their inspiration efforts whereas another category of retailers will start selling articles via other platforms - just like Torfs sells its bags via Plaza - prefering reach over inspiration.

Why we wrote this article? Understanding your customers’ drivers and their jobs-to-be-done is essential for omnichannel success. Not all brands are equal and so shouldn’t be their web presences. Find out your customer’s drivers in our Belgian fashion research.

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