J&J Trades Case
- Pages: 22
- Word count: 5315
- Category: Customer
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J&J Trades is entering its third year of operations and its business is steadily expanding via word of mouth and referrals from within the community. However, in order to enter the next phase of expansion and growth, extensive marketing will be crucial to develop a strong and distinctive brand as well as create exposure and awareness. J&J Trades offers a variety of one-of-a-kind accessories as well as custom made designs and costumes.
J&J has researched its niche target market and the viability of its product line. It is clear that there is ample demand for their products and room for expanding their line and offering more variety and choices to their customers. The popularity for costume clothing inspired by yesteryears is not a passing fad but a trend that influences mainstream fashion. Costume pieces can be incorporated into everyday wear and thus increase the usage and therefore the demand for their products. The challenge is to create awareness and to reach a wider audience that may be persuaded to purchase their products. By creating partnerships and collaborative efforts with others who sell similar or tangent items, J&J Trades can expand its reach and gain new customers.
• ComicCon enthusiasts
• Renaissance Fair patrons
• Seasonal customers (Halloween)
Typical J&J Trades customers generally fit the following profile:
o Customers generally come from within the general Los Angeles area although they have also had customers from outside the area. By taking advantage of the wide reach of the Internet and delivery services, J&J Trades has been able to serve customers from Northern California and across the U.S. o A higher percentage of customers are male.
o No data has been collected regarding age groups, education level, or income.
• Behavior Factors:
o Majority of customers indicate that they will use/wear the product rather than simply display it. o Customers are apt to wear the product more than once and would like to add “matching” pieces to create a full ensemble.
J&J Trades offers its customers various options for each of its products. Its goal is to meet its customer’s expectations in the following areas:
• Quality goods: Customers are expecting products made from quality materials, with superb stitching, embossing, and finishing touches. Products are expected to be durable and perform well under frequent use. • Unique handcrafts: Customers prefer to have unique items that are not easily duplicated or found at a mall. They are seeking a one-of-a-kind experience. • Accuracy: Anachronistic details are to be avoided as customers want to appear knowledgeable on period they are representing. Therefore, thorough research must be conducted to ensure historical accuracy. • Artistry: In order to differentiate itself from the competition, not only must items be functional and accurate, they must be visually appealing. • Customer service: Dependable and responsive service must be established to build and maintain good rapport and relationships with customers. This will help create a loyal customer base.
Viability and Market Trends:
J&J Trades is distinguishing itself by providing high quality, hand-crafted items that are of obviously superb craftsmanship. The leather-covered flasks and the hairpieces are especially popular year-round. The community seems to constantly grow with more and more youngsters finding a passion for period wear. Once a person embraces the community and discovers the many ways to actively participate, they are likely to remain enthusiasts for long. This is fortunate as it creates long-term customers seeking to increase their ensemble and gear. By offering interchangeable pieces and accessories, J&J Trades can offer the customer options and flexibility at a minimal cost.
The viability for Jack & Jill Trades as an online business is basically guaranteed given the following— 1) J&J Trades does not operate out of a traditional mortar store, it relies solely on an online presence where it is steadily building a solid customer base. 2) Given that online shopping is a growing trend among young “hipsters” and others with disposable income, choosing a strictly online presence is a good strategy. 3) By being an online business, J&J Trades is saving many of the upstart costs traditional stores would face such as paying for rent, taxes, utilities, and staff. 4) By offering a cohesive website that includes appealing images of the items, detailed descriptions highlighting the unique features, item guarantees, and fast responses to queries—J&J Trades will distinguish itself from its competitors and garner a reputation as a trusted and reliable vendor.
Market Trends and Growth:
It is not only “insiders” that are seeking good costumes and accessories, fashion designers are slowly realizing the popularity of period inspired clothing, whether historical or inspired by pop culture and are introducing pieces into their lines. With the continuation of the popular Pirates of the Caribbean enterprise, the excitement and demand for well-made Jack Sparrow outfits continues to grow.
By using the SWOT analysis, we see that J&J Trades encompasses the following strengths and weaknesses and displays the areas for potential growth, expansion, and improvement.
• Well-crafted costumes and accessories made of durable leather and fine craftsmanship. • Creative and artistic pieces that are not only functional and usable, but are also eye-catching and can be used as display and/or collector pieces. • Products that are historical accurate or true to the spirit of the series/universe that inspired them.
• A limited number of items all clustered around the same price point. • Need for additional employees to meet the increasing demand. • Reliance on funding in order to expand business production, invest in marketing, and broaden awareness of brand and product.
• Participants in an active and growing community. • Ability to collaborate with other vendors and target niche market by focusing on only a few select pieces and offering variations at various price levels.
• Competition from long standing business with similar products and more extensive offerings. • Sluggish economy makes it hard to entice customers to buy luxury items when more essential items are needed. • Items are made from leather and this is a deterrent to
J&J Trades is entering an already busy and well-established market of costume designs and period inspired accessories. However, J&J has the advantage of being one of the only businesses in the Los Angeles area that produces one-of-a-kind pirate and renaissance inspired leather wrapped flasks and leather flower hairpieces. A further distinction is the fact that the owners are already part of the community that embraces and re-enacts movie plots and participates in renaissance fairs. Their passion for the craft drives the care and attention to detail that goes into each piece they create. While there are many other makers of costumes, hairpieces, and leather flask holders, the competition produces very generic and one-dimensional pieces unlike the very elaborate designs put forth by J&J Trades. By continuously introducing variations, in design, color scheme, and flare, into their product line they are directly competing with larger and older companies that have the resources to mass-produce products.
Unlike other businesses, J&J Trades stretches its line by not only offering costumes, but also leather accessories and hair ornaments. Competitors in the leather trade offer similar products, but here again J&J Trades has an edge due to the detailed features they infuse into their line. As demonstrated by conducting a simple search for leather-wrapped flasks, while a good body of competitors exists, J&J Trade is doing a very good job of setting itself apart through their craftsmanship and by offering a very good deal for the type of product they offer. The flasks offered by competitors are very basic with only superficial and/or minimal detail worked into the leather and not much flair. Usually the leather is of very basic design and the centerpiece is a generic metal plate, J&J Trades flasks however have are infused with not only character, but since they are inspired by a historical time-period or well known fictional character, there is a storyline behind every design. As a whole, the leathers goods offered by the competition that are of a comparable design are much pricier, often twice or nearly three times as much as J&J Trades.
Finally, the third product area merits its own analysis and comparison with its competitors. A distinct difference between hairpieces offered by the Jill side of the J&J Trades duo, is the fact that the flowers are made of leather and are very durable and there are many options. Unlike competitors who offer silk, yarn, polyester, or metal flowers, with cheap appliqués or details, the use of leather is a unique ingredient to offering a very elegant hair ornament. The edges of the petals do not fray as with others and the metal piece which is used to attach the flower piece to the hair are durable. An ability to offer the ability to “design” your own hair ornament via a more interactive website would give J&J Trade a definitive edge over its competitors. By allowing customers to select not only the overall design of the flower but also the disparate pieces such as the size of flower, the hair attachment, and the details (color, material, appliqué, and ornament) the customer would be able to truly have a one of a kind piece. None of the other competing sites surveyed offers the ability to do this.
As the combination of products offered by J&J Trades is somewhat unique, three different competitors were looked at who offered products in the following areas—1) Jack Sparrow costumes and accessories; 2) Leather covered flasks; and 3) hair ornaments. Following are the findings.
• 2 costumes inspired by the Jack Sparrow character. • They offer the costume in a total of 6 different sizes, including adult, teen, plus, female version, child, and toddler. • They also offer two other costumes, one inspired by the Elizabeth character and the other by Blackbeard. • All in all a total of 36 variations of the 3 costumes are offered to their customers. Online Experience & Functionality:
• The website is visually creative and all the images and fonts are pirate-inspired. On the whole, the site is easy to navigate, if at times somewhat repetitive and redundant. Comparison with Jack
• J&J Trades does not have a set number of costumes, instead it relies on a collaborative process where they work directly with their customer to decide on finishes, colors, sizes, and other details. RenMenLeather:
• Offers leather masks, roses, bracers, flasks, wristbands, and belts inspired by the Medieval and Renaissance time periods. • Leather Flasks:
o Five design variations ranging from $45-$70. o Of these 5 designs, one of them features a monogrammed letter, with 24 possible offerings. Online Experience & Functionality:
• Vendors on Etsy must follow a basic template with products listed in broad categories, in this instance masks, roses, bracers, flasks, wristbands, and belts. • All items are highlighted via a picture and a description of the item summarizing the item including the leather used and the design. • Items can be sorted in three ways.
• In addition to product information the page also offers a profile on the vendor, a feedback section, and contact information. Comparison with J&J:
• While the items offered are not entirely the same, with the exception of leather flasks, the flask designs are not as elaborate or as unique. • In general their offerings by RenMenLeather.com are somewhat limited under each category, but in considering their leather flasks it is clear that they are particularly meager. • Another notable difference would be in the enclosure piece for the metal flask. Those offered by RenMenLeather.com include a screw top that can get easily displaced and lost, while those by J&J Trades have an attachment that keeps them attached to the flask when open and thus avoid the probability of misplacing the top.
• Offers hair pieces and ornaments made of leather (a total of 5 different designs) as well as other accessories including necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Online Experience & Functionality:
• Vendors on Etsy must follow a basic template with products listed in broad categories, in this instance hairpieces, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. • All items are highlighted via a picture and a description of the item summarizing the item including the materials (i.e. feathers, beads, leather, and clips) used and the design. • Items can be sorted in three ways—1) most recent; 2) lowest price; and 3) highest price. • In addition to product information the page also offers a profile on the vendor, a feedback section, and contact information. Comparison with J&J:
• The prices and products of JajaJewelry are comparable to, but they have limited offerings as far as colors, sizes, and styles. Competitor Strategy:
• J&J Trades’ vertical integration strategy is to provide customers with high quality products at competitive prices. While J&J Trades provides items at prices that are comparable to those of its competitors, their items are of much better quality and workmanship. This approach is consistent with their long-term strategy to build a base of loyal customers who will make continued purchases over time. Although more profit could be obtained by using inferior materials, J&J Trades’ philosophy is to impress its customers and invest in confidence and loyalty to gain a good reputation and future sales. • A competitive strategy that combines the following approaches would be most advantageous to J&J Trades— o Frontal Attack: By continuing to match prices, product quality, and delivery time, J&J Trades will go head-to-head with its top competitors. o Bypass Attack: By further continuing to diversify the products offered, J&J Trades can bypass their competition and fill a unique niche. o Follower Attack: In their costume outfit, J J&J Trades is pursuing a cloner strategy that is offering costumes inspired by the Pirate of the Caribbean franchise and other movies and television shows. They are not posing as authentic pieces though the costumes are very true to the time period and “reality” that inspired them. o Note: As funds are limited, pursuing a guerilla warfare and/or encirclement strategy would not be a wise investment.
Currently J&J Trades offers a the following accessories:
o Leather flasks
o Hair flowers
o Leather vests
As a relative new and small start-up business, J&J Trades is still in its infancy. Some of the critical issues include:
o Establish itself as a leader of leather accessories and costumes. o Introduce a larger selection, variety, at various entry levels to increase customer pool. o Controlled growth to balance the production and limited resources and keep up with the demand and delivery schedule. o Keep a close eye on customer satisfaction via reviews, referrals, and return rates.
One of the key issues for J&J Trades is to develop an easily recognizable brand and slogan so they can emerge as leaders with this niche market. By focusing on details, product variety, and including samples and images of all of their products on their website, they will be able to demonstrate their skill, creativity, and the breath of their capabilities. Currently, the dynamic duo is able to recreate a wide variety of costumes from Jack Sparrow to the Wicked With of the West, to The Grinch—however there are no pictures of any of these costumes on their website.
A key opportunity is the fact that J&J Trades are avid members of the fantasy community, they attend Renaissance Faires and Pirate themed events as well as ComicCon-type conventions. They themselves embrace the spirit of these events and wear costumes. As part of their marketing strategy, they could include a blog on their website that chronicles their own adventures and events they’ve attended. In time these blogs could be expanded to create a storyline with additional characters that are inspired by the people they’ve met. They could then start marketing the story and offering pieces that are truly unique and their own, basing them on the characters in the J&J Trades storyline. In time Jack and Jill could be as equally recognizable as other storylines such as, “Emily the Strange,” “Chococat,” and “Invader Zim.” This would open up a whole new market for the business that could include exclusively J&J Trades themed merchandise such as apparel, accessories, and other memorabilia.
Jack and Jill Trades has a very simple and straight-forward mission, and that is to rid the world of boring costumes.
o Create a strong and recognizable brand.
o Reach a larger pool of people who may be drawn to the fantasy world of costume through mass-online outreach campaigns. o Increase the conversion rate from visitors/browsers to customers by creating visually appealing websites featuring detailed descriptions of products and pictures. o Introduce more items, variations, and styles.
o To increase profits by 5-10% annually.
o Get a return on marketing investments.
o Employ 1-2 additional employees, preferably interns, who can help expand the business.
• Renaissance Fairs have been around since the 1960s and their popularity has been growing. Enthusiasm for the historical reenactments and a demand for costumes that capture the spirit and essence of the late Elizabethan era is spreading as long-time practitioners recruit new followers. • Another more recent phenomenon with the advent of the Pirate movies, in particular the Pirate of the Caribbean series, is the fascination with pirate living. Festivals, guilds, and crews have sprung out across the world and a market to supply the necessary garb and dress has risen to fill in the need. • A robust community surrounding the world around Science Fiction and Fantasy, or Fandom as it is widely known, is mainly a subculture where like-minded people congregate to display and share their interests. The Fandom subculture is not limited to the US but spans the entire world and it is embraced not only by those loyal to classic SciFi but also to the subculture that supports the youthful world of raves.
J&J Trades is determined to position itself as a leader retailer that offers high-quality accessories and costumes. Through its dedication, passion, attention to detail, and commitment to selling items that would be acceptable to the various markets it targets, J&J Trades hopes to establish a loyal customer base that is willing to return for multiple purchases. Ideally, a costume would be purchased in its entirety, but many customers opt to purchasing pieces and completing a costume piecemeal. By satisfying customers and delivering excellent products, offering great customer service, and creating a pleasant experience, J&J Trades is on target to reaching its goal. Marketing Strategies:
Current and upcoming strategies that are currently under implementation are:
• J&J Trades is in the process of creating a strong brand that reflects its mission and captures the adventurous spirit and artistic bend of the dynamic duo. • Direct and strategic marketing campaigns to adolescents (13-19 year-olds) and young adults (20-34 year-olds) is key to secure long-term customers. • A strong campaign that introduces new products at various price-points, and variations and ability to customize products. • Create a clear, interactive, informative, and visually appealing website that features and highlights the products and offers an easy purchasing experience. • Penetrate the various communities that would patronize by attending festivals, fairs, trade shows, and participating in guild, and crew meet-ups and other specialized events.
New strategies to adopt:
Attracting New Customers:
o Have a hidden tracker that counts the number of visits website to better gauge how many visits happen per day (unique and non-unique visits alike). o Analyze information to see if any trends emerge. If there are dates with high spikes, keep track for possible direct outreach. o Compare whether dates with more traffic/visits translate to more sales or if visitors are just “window shopping.” o Attend trade shows and give prices in exchange for contact information and then send follow-ups with special offers and incentives. o Announce discounts and/or free items to new customers. o Give discounts to current customers for referrals of new customers (after purchase made). Offline Efforts:
o Invest in creating a catalogue that features items from it’s various lines and distribute to friends, colleagues, at conventions, leave at business, include with shipments, and mail to past customers. o Create attractive business cards that direct potential customers to website and include contact info as well as a promotional code for discounts. o Attend trade shows and display wares. Wear outfits so that others can see how they look on, display leather goods, and hairpieces. Take enough merchandise to make sales on the spot. o Visit small boutiques and ask for counter-space, this can be especially done for hairpieces and sell them at a slightly higher price point so that business can make a profit. Search Engines:
o Invest in keyword searches to increase traffic to website by using AdWords for Google and adCentral for MSN. This would be a worthwhile investment, as placement on search listing is key to attracting traffic to site. ▪ An example of key words or phrases could include, “costume,” “pirate,” “renaissance faire,” “leather accessories,” “leather flasks” “flasks”, “costume belts”, “pirate accessories,” “baldric,” “Jack Sparrow costume” and variations of all these, the chances of driving traffic to the J&J Trades website would increase. o Partnerships: Links on other websites directing customers to J&J Trades website. These could include websites for popular conventions such as Los Angeles’ own Comikaze, San Diego’s ComicCon, the various Renaissance Faires in the region, and on sites of fellow members of the Fandom community. o Pay for featured banner and ads in popular sites such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, MSN, and Bing.
o Ensure that name of website and individual page names reflect an accurate description of product which will increase the accuracy and effectiveness of search spiders. o Increase content on website and include original and pertinent text so that spiders can pick up site and feature website on searches. o As credibility of a website increases when others link to it, encourage others to do and ensure that any and all links are from reputable sites to avoid being red-flagged and banned by spiders. ▪ Depending on search engines, may elect to buy links from other pages. These would include highly popular sites for those that are dedicated fans of Renaissance Fairs, the Jack Sparrow/Pirates of the Caribbean enterprise, and other popular SciFi shows such as Legend of the Seeker. o Proactively submit information to popular search engines, Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Lycos. ▪ Also submit variations of the names and common misspellings. o Use various online “markets” such as Amazon, Etsy, and Ebay. o Avoid using invisible keywords and meta-tags and other black-hat methods. o Regularly check search rankings so that if ranking falls, steps are taken to increase/improve ranking result. Social Media Outreach:
o Create a presence in popular social media sites such as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tweeter, and Plaxo. o Maintain a steady stream of communications and ensure that all communications are of interests to potential clients. o Create storylines and updates that include the activities of Jack and Jill but also highlight the new products that they are developing, working on, or are planning for future development. Get others excited about their innovations so they can await with anticipation the arrival of future products. o When considering Facebook, take advantage of all the possible features when creating a page such as the “events”, “store,” “pictures,” and even “causes.” o Maintain a balance and avoid over-reaching so as to avoid exposure fatigue and having communications tagged as spam. Other Considerations:
o Create a “layaway” or “pay as you go” plan so customers can purchase an entire costume. Offer a discount for pre-arranged and automated payment plans. o Occasionally offer limited time promotions on website, such as discount or free shipping to next 10 customers or for a specified time period. o Reach out to past customers and make suggestions for new items based on previous purchases. Offer slight discount if purchased made within a certain window, say next 10-14 days. Increase the discount amount as the total increases.
Customer Relationship Management and E-Commerce Solutions:
Establish and create a customer-centered culture that nourishes customer relations and encourages return business. Having a customer-focused philosophy and practice is a good investment as customers appreciate being taken into consideration. Customers are very receptive to businesses that see them as individuals and not just as cash sources. By creating items that can be personalized, giving plenty of options, providing flexibility in payments, creating loyalty programs and offering discounts for return customers, loyalty will build and J&J Trades will become the first vendor customers will think of when they are looking to buy costumes, leather goods, or hairpieces, whether for themselves or as gifts. They will more likely refer friends and family to J&J Trades and there is no better publicity than that of happy and satisfied customers.
o Create an easily searchable website with clear information, pictures and descriptions of products. o Give clear shipping information and offer different options for faster service by using different vendors (i.e., FedEx, UPS, and Regular Mail). o By offering to ship merchandise via FedEx or UPS, customers will be able to track their orders. This will give customers ease of mind and they can have an accurate idea as to when products will be received. o Include a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section and provide answers to common concerns and include other useful information such as instructions for problem resolutions or disputes. o Offer quick and prompt returns and exchanges and include clear instructions on how to handle these transactions.
o Ability for customers to interact with business, either via phone, email, or other method. o Offer discounts for large orders and/or a loyalty program to encourage return business. o Create comprehensive database and gather basic information and track orders and offer suggestions depending on purchase history Add a review section so that customers can provide feedback. This will create trust for future customers. o Provide information as to how products were chosen, made, and the research behind each product to establish credibility, especially for period-based costumes and accessories. o Create a Newsletter and send out frequently to keep business and brand at the forefront of customers’ minds. o Don’t limit exposure to online only. Create business cards, flyers, and catalogues that can be distributed at events, festivals, and trade shows as well as distributed via network of clients, friends, and other business associates. o Offer ability to customize products or for customers to provide input on costume designs.
o Payment Processor: Use PayPal to process payments. It is not only a reputable and easily recognized vendor, but it offers many benefits not only to the business but also to customers. o By using PayPal, customers will be able to take advantage of the following features— ▪ Secure site will create trust and ease of payments. ▪ Ability to use all major credit cards. o J&J Trades will be able to integrate it’s payment system with it’s shopping cart as PayPal works with Shop Factory. In addition, if J&J Trades ever decided to go international, PayPal can handle international rates and payments. PayPal has no set-up fees and very low transaction fees and it also has an invoicing tool so that Jack & Jill can keep track of their orders and payments. o Shopping Cart Servicer: By choosing Shop Factory as their shopping cart servicer, J&J Trades will choose a vendor that is compatible with Ebay, Etsy, ad PayPal. In addition, Shop Factory has a one time fee of $89, no monthly fees, and their upgrade software is only $399. o They offer comprehensive and competitive search engine listing (SEO) functions and their Total Care package comes equipped with Order Management, Statistic information, and support for discounts, gift vouchers, in addition to payment support.
While their products may be of interest to international markets, at the moment J&J Trades is limiting its operations to U.S. sales only. However, if the company decides at a future date to offer its products to international customers, it must keep the following in mind when developing their penetration strategy: • Choose countries individually and create specific Webpages for each that are customized and take into account cultural and market differences. • Don’t simply translate current page into other language, be aware of sensitivities and common business practices in new country, including color, words, and marketing trends. • Make sure to submit new website to international search engines. • Consult with a lawyer to ensure that all potential legal and bureaucratic issues as dealt with from the get-go and to solicit advice regarding jurisdiction, contracts, privacy laws, taxes, currency exchange, payments, and other business practices. • When developing new site, be cognizant of band-width and accessibility. • Establish legitimacy and trust by offering security via encryption and offering digital certificates.
At this point, J&J Trades already hosts a fully working website that features selections of their merchandise, includes a good shopping cart, and ability to respond to questions. However, as it seeks to expand its reach and appeal, a marketing and development plan should incorporate the following:
• J&J Trades is currently hosting their website through Wix, a free website builder, but they need to upgrade from the free service to a more sophisticated service that allows for greater flexibility and customization. Such an investment would mean anywhere between a few hundred to a thousand dollar investment. Given that they are poised to increase their brand and double their products such a move would be a worthy and advisable investment. The investment would translate to between $50-$100 per year for hosting of a more sophisticated site with additional features. • Currently the J&J Trades site offers images, some flash, an overview of J&J Trades and how they entered the business, information on their return policy, and the products. As one of the goals is to increase the product line it is essential that the site is easily navigational so that customers can move from one piece to another without getting lost.
An overhaul of the entire site is advisable and it would be a good investment to hire a professional to put the site together. This investment would be in the range of $1,500-$3,000 depending on the amount of material that is already given, what needs to be created, and the timeline for getting the new site “live.” • Payments are processed and serviced through PayPal. No need to expand this area, however they might decide to offer more high-priced items as a payment plan or to partner up with a creditor so that customers can purchase a full costume at a time. • They have already purchased their domain name so further investment on this area is necessary. • J&J Trades is currently using Shop Factory for their shopping cart services. However it is advisable to upgrade from the Pro version to the Gold one which would only require an additional investment of $700.
• Currently maintenance and updates on the website itself are performed on a monthly basis or more frequently as needed. As both owners are dedicating their time to creating the products they sell, they need to either employ or take on interns. This would alleviate the burden to spend time on administrative duties and would allow them to focus their energy and efforts to expanding their product line and producing their masterpieces.