I was being a good online journalist and checking out a pair of GoJane’s sexy, high-fashion, high-heel shoes—more properly “Point The Way Faux Leather Pumps” The shoes were surprisingly affordable at only $22.00, and boasted a rating of five out of five stars. The item page displayed an attractive four-photo layout, every one of which allowed you to sail over the shoe in ultra-close-up virtual reality by using your mouse (or your finger if you’re on a smart phone or tablet). The shoe came in nine sizes (5.5-10), but only five sizes were available at the time. There was even a review: “I am in love with these shoes..they look very elegant on me.”
While I was admiring the Faux Leather Pumps a visiting friend’s daughter stepped into my home office, looked over my shoulder, and was instantly transfixed. “Ooh!” she gasped. “Shoes! Look at all those shoes!”
“And that’s not all,” I said. “This outfit also sell dresses, tops, backpacks, jewelry, sunglasses and watches.”
“I’m in,” she laughed, reaching for her iPad. “What’s the link?”
Another happy fashionista was on her way to GoJane.
Kids In a Candy Store
GoJane looks a lot more like an expensive, high-end fashion magazine—Teen Vogue or In Style, say—than an online shopping website. Stunning photos and flashy models dazzle your eyes on every side, and the selection of fashion items is equally enticing. A certain focus-group of clothing shoppers should find themselves feeling like kids in a candy store.
Aimed at a smart, young, adventurous clientele, GoJane, which has been around since 1998, is one of the leading sites in its category. Hip, trending fashion is a hugely competitive niche, but GoJane still manages to maintain very high visibility. Google “young women’s clothing” and GoJane comes up in position number three.
The Visual, The Photos
Shopping online has great appeal—it’s convenient, private, and can be scheduled at the shoppers convenience. Also, you can shop in your bathrobe. But when it comes to clothing, online shopping faces some challenges.
“The customer can only go off of what she sees,” says Amy Tsai, GoJane’s Senior Copywriter, “as opposed to a brick and mortar shop where she can touch the pieces and try them on. We try to give as much of that in-shop experience as we can with the visual, the photos, how the items are represented. We try not only to represent everything accurately but also to create possibilities for all the items. We want to show how they can be worn, not just what they look like.”
What the Girl Wants
The name says it all. When co-founders Tony Pang and Kurt Kimura started the site, one of their most important decisions was the name. “‘Jane’ stands for every woman,” says Pang, “and ‘Go’ is a statement of empowerment.”
"It’s definitely about what the girl wants,” adds Tsai. “So we pride ourselves on providing a collection that is eclectic and progressive, unique and trend-setting, that each girl can still tailor to her own style.”
The web site itself is probably GoJane’s most effective sales tool.
“We have a supermenu at the top,” Tsai explains, “where you can find whatever you need, including what’s new. The New Styles section is updated every day, and so is the Back In Stock page. Customers are always asking when certain items will be restocked. Shoes you can shop by trend or by color, while Dresses are separated into silhouettes, trends, and occasions.”
Just like a good fashion magazine, GoJane has “lookbooks”; they’re under Trends on the right of the supermenu. “We publish new lookbooks regularly,” says Tsai. “ With each one we also have a Shop-By-Outfit feature that displays each ensemble piece by piece and provides links and prices to all the items. So if you want that head-to-toe look you found in the lookbook, you can have it with one click.”
Ask Pang about the biggest challenge GoJane faced as a start-up and he says, “It’s still the biggest challenge: traffic. The key is consistency. Online customers expect merchandise that is consistent in size, price and quality. They also expect the presentation to look and feel consistent. Lastly, we need to publish new styles in a timeframe that is dependable, so that customers know what to expect and come back for more.”
Tsai points out that GoJane pulls traffic from social media as well. On Instagram clothes are shot flat for a change, and paired with jewelry, shoes, and accessories to show more ways to wear them. “We get a lot of feedback on social media and can gauge customer responses from their likes and comments,” she says. “So we make sure to include some 'lifestyle’ shots too. Customers can see how these items will look out in the real world, not just in a photo shoot.“
Looking at the photo-driven site it’s easy to imagine a small army of photographers and copy-writers, but Tsai says no. "We run a pretty spare operation. But everyone works hard to make it happen.”
Late in 2012, GoJane received the ultimate validation of its success: it was acquired by a large, publically-traded company, Aeropostale, Inc.—a nationally-recognized shopping mall-based specialty retailer.
“We were thrilled to become part of the Aeropostale family and to find a partner that shares our values and vision for GoJane.” said Pang.“We look forward to many years to come, sharing our respective customer bases, and leveraging Aeropostale to develop and grow.”