GoJane: At the Forefront of Online Fashion

4 minute read

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.”

Getting Traffic

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.”

Future Direction

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.”