Creating and developing a lucrative brand via an online-only presence, with Airtasker’s CEO and Co-Founder of Joe Button, Tim Fung.
Internet retail isn’t purely about rationale anymore.
Back in the earlier days of e-commerce, the internet was seen as a way to disseminate binary information from one party to another and as such, some companies made huge fortunes by differentiating purely based on price.
Now, with the web being such an integral part of our real lives, the information being shared between people is much richer than just binary figures, conveying people’s wants, needs and emotions. This should be really exciting for most pure-play retailers because it means the range of tools that we have at our disposal to create a brand and differentiate ourselves from the competition is growing everyday.
When we were starting up custom tailored shirt company Joe Button, one of the first things we did was size up the competition. We knew exactly what we wanted, and given that there were already a few ‘online tailors’ marketing themselves with tag lines such as ‘100 trillion potential shirt combinations’ and ‘size customized to your exact measurements’, you would rationally think that there simply wouldn’t be room for even one more tailor in the market. Yet, as customers of tailored products ourselves, we weren’t happy with what was on offer.
Why? Because a shirt is so much more than just a combination of size measurements and fabric choices – it’s about how it makes you feel when you put it on in the morning, get a compliment from a co-worker or wear it out for cheeky after work drinks. It’s about an affinity, a lifestyle and a brand. While not transferable across all product and service categories, there are now huge opportunities for e-tailers to create a brand in order to increase sales, loyalty and customer value.
So why focus on brand creation?
- Brands create an additional point of difference. If people want your brand, they will pay higher prices (higher margins) and tend to be more ‘sticky’.
- Internet shopping is becoming more experiential, so buyers don’t always buy product on a rationale basis but rather an emotive brand benefit.
- Brands create loyalty, but price deals don’t. Incentives and discounts tend to create spikes, but you may have to keep re-acquiring customers.
How can an internet-only e-commerce business create a brand?
- Use social media to create an online personality – cool social apps like Pinterest and Instagram provide a great platform to express your brand through images, video and social interaction. Leverage this content on ubiquitous channels like Facebook and Twitter.
- Use every brand touch point as an opportunity to express your brand – whether it’s your confirmation email template design, delivery packaging or product swing tags, think about every instance that your customer interacts with you and make sure that it’s part of a branded experience. Tangible touch points are critical.
- Design your customer experience around an emotive brand benefit, not just a logic flow – at Joe Button, we don’t offer 10,000 fabrics, we curate our product down to just 30 fabrics per season to ensure that every shirt fits our brand. We also name the shirts in our Sartorial Collection based on aspirational characters that inspired their design (like Don Draper or Patrick Bateman) to express our brand character and engage the customer with the emotive benefits of buying our products.