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Why JCrew is the next British Empire?

There’s an important lesson for eCommerce brands, specially in lifestyle and fashion segment. Running a brand is not much different than running an empire. There’s so much one can learn from the fall of British empire.

Empires and great powers rise and fall. The change in time gives way for an empire to fall and gives rise to another empire. One prime example of this is the fall of British Empire. Britain was an empire based on manufacturing and it had built an amazing network through conquering nations. They conquered so much of the world that in 1929 they were ruling 1/4th of the world.

Five years later the empire where the sun never settled, collapsed losing all of what it took them 2 centuries to build.The country withdrew to the british isles even there it was hurt by insurgency.

What was it that lead a global power to disintegrate like that?

There are numerous factors like the unification of Germany and their competition to British industrialization, American association and competition, British investors moving towards America for better returns, constant wars in their ruled lands, investing heavily in central Africa. but they all sum up to one single thing, their failure to adapt to present world changes and respond to shifting powers.

The fall of the British empire shows us just how quickly things can change. How a global power can be reduced to less than 1/4th of its size just by neglecting the present changes, investing heavily in single segment and unable to respond to shifting powers.

Much similar to 1929, in present world.

Google has released it’s mobile friendly algorithm, what it means is that if your website is mobile friendly it will rank better in the google results. You may be asking why is this relevant, your site has passed the google mobile friendly test and it gave a green then why are we still discussing this.

Mobile eCommerce is here and what are the leading brands in lifestyle and fashion industry doing about it?

With this in mind we reviewed the mobile eCommerce experience of one of our favorite lifestyle and fashion eCommerce brand JCrew. They are upwards of USD 3 billion group ($3,000,000,000) enjoys a healthy following of online customers (1560K likes on facebook, 1500K follower on instagram) and target the most fiercely competitive demographics of 18-26 year old.

With all the above backing jCrew brand why would we be ringing alarm bells for their mobile site or even worse comparing it with the fall of British Empire.
Here’s why!

Home page:


Greeted with popups:
The moment you land on the homepage, you are greeted with loads of popups and you won’t be able to focus on anything other than the popups. You’ll feel more like a flea market with displays pushed in your face begging for attention. Having popups is essential for capturing email id’s and building one’s list but there has to be a gradual approach towards it, definitely all at once.

Perception is the most important area for a fashion e-commerce brand. With the current approach JCrew’s perception takes a huge hit resulting in diminishing brand value. We talk about perception in detail over at this post.


Lacks premium appeal:
Once you choose to close all the popups you’ll find the homepage. Which certainly is disappointing. For a lifestyle and fashion ecommerce brand worth upwards of 3 billion dollars this is a disaster. JCrew is suppose to give you a premium experience and what it does is just blatantly shows their images in a 15$ template layout it seems.


The navigation is labeled:
How old or uninitiated JCrew thinks it’s audience is, to be brutally honest, in this present time grandparents are on social media using the apps to death and here we have JCrew with a target audience of millennials who are born with these devices, hand holding them through their navigation. Solopreneurs, smaller indie lifestyle & fashion brands worth less than a quarter of 3 Billion dollar JCrew have done so well in comparison. This is just preposterous.


There’s no visual hierarchy:
There are serious design issues with above the fold area. There’s no hierarchy, everything is just thrown in front of you in that awful layout. They don’t utilize their gorgeous imagery to enhance the customers experience, their impact is limited by their design choices.


No comprehensible information architecture:
JCrew need to architect their information, highlight their main categories, have a structured approach to maximize customer’s attention.


No clear visuals for call to actions:
JCrew lacks consistency on their call to actions, it’s the first step towards having a fashion eCommerce brand,  they have a different set of call to actions on home page, which change on product page which again change on checkout and cart pages.


Footer is helpful but not executed well:
JCrew has only one thing that’s well done in terms of intent is their footer section, having all the important concerns grouped but it’s execution is not aligned with the brand. It needs hierarchy.


Visuals are used sparingly:
JCrew much like all the lifestyle and fashion ecommerce brands has their visuals and imagery as the most important thing after the product. Having said that it is sad to see JCrew using it so sparingly on their site.


Oh that product page!:
That’s where we had to stop and take some time off. This is not acceptable from JCrew a 3 billion dollar fashion brand. There’s nothing to be said here.


History teaches us for any Empire to sustain itself, it needs to be adaptive towards present world changes and respond to shifting powers. Powers have shifted towards digital in our world of lifestyle and fashion retail, any brand to sustain itself. It desperately needs to adapt and respond to the shift accordingly.


Filed under: fashion e-commerce

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Kann collective is a multi disciplinary design studio that drives a brand centric solution for forward thinking and design conscious brands in lifestyle, luxury, creative and art domain.

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