Digital artefact The Lions Den, formerly known as Kelsea Renne, is an exciting online fashion enterprise dedicated to ‘after 5’ wear by Kelsea Church. The project, which is characterised by stylishness, offers great ideas and potentials for business. However, The Lions Den, while still under its experimental BETA stage, still lacks depth and clear trajectory for its future development. This blog entry is dedicated to analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the network from the peer perspectives of Style Detective’s editor-in-chief.
The Lions Den has experienced two fundamental development stages, which I identify as preliminary and BETA. During its early days of the preliminary stage as Kelsea Renne (KR), project designer Kelsea Church was experimenting different concepts, mediums and possibilities of expanding her online fashion enterprise. This was a phase of brainstorming, conceptualising ideas and forming future directions. After presenting the preliminary structure and strategies of KR, and gathering feedback, Kelsea introduced a brand new franchise label-The Lions Den. In general, The Lions Den features several modifications to the developmental directions and attempts at advancing technological innovation of the enterprise.
AIMS AND TRAJECTORY:
In my opinion, the BETA aims of the project are actually taking a few steps back from the original aims of KR. Basically, Kelsea decided to postpone the trading business activities and the official site launch till after she has gained enough popularity for the label through an online fashion blog-a participatory citizen journalism medium, and social networking.
When developing a significant corporate image and reputation, it is important to create a striking vivid corporate identity for the brand in the minds of the brand’s stakeholders. In order to achieve this, the brand must clearly set out its corporate communication strategies:
– Firstly, This involves producing an impressive and exclusive logo, by which the stakeholders can uniquely and specifically identify the brand. Kelsea has accomplished this successfully, as she has introduced a striking and professionally designed brand icon and a fashionable, chic brand name. However these are not legally protected by law, as neither of them have been registered with licensing authorities.
– Secondly, in order to generate popularity and vividly ingrain the corporate image and reputation of a brand in the minds of the stakeholders in general or consumers in particular; the brand must clearly exhibit a well-defined, specific and strongly concrete identity among its audiences. In changing her directions, Kelsea has failed to achieve this. The original aim of running an online fashion boutique, supported by social media platforms, was more clearly defined; as it would immediately strike the audiences’ mind as specifically an online fashion boutique. Moreover, this followed a simultaneous approach to constructing a corporate reputation; as the consumers and investors, while accessing stimulus content on social media sites such as Facebook and blogs, could also concurrently start trading with the website and identify The Lions Den as a clearly defined and professional online fashion boutique. The new aim of waiting out however lacks immediacy, has diminished this clearly defined corporate image and could potentially cause confusion among stakeholders. The Lions Den’s audiences may find themselves confused between the corporate identity of The Snow Den as a small-scale amateur fashion blog or a creditable and reliable professional clothing retailer.
However, in addressing all the above, Kelsea is confronted with great enormity of work for one team member and technological inefficiency; and the deadline for the final project is approaching, which makes it harder for The Lions Den. I personally would recommend launching the developing site simultaneously with other social media platforms coherently. The site does not have to start trading but it at least gives the audiences a better idea of The Lions Den’s corporate identity as a professional online boutique.
METHODOLOGY AND TRAJECTORY:
– Kelsea’s justification into her selection of online shopping as the business domain was logical and extensive, as she showed statistics in favour of the rise of online shopping. However, she clearly has not identified the challenge of being a hit-driven model of business going against long-tail niche aggregators such as Ebay and ASOS Marketplace, which allow the audiences to participate in trading as well.
– The competitor analysis was more focused on the online fashion retail demographics than the actual potential competitors themselves. It should have clearly identified specific competitors that could pose direct competition and challenges towards The Lions Den. Moreover, case studies on past successes of established online fashion boutiques were missing.
– The target market selection was not specific enough as ‘women aged 18-30 who want affordable after 5 wear’ could vary significantly in style, it would be more effective to target a particular style group first if the site wants to gain a strong foundational group of regular buyers
– There is a good decision to have changed the plan to source supplies as Kelsea decides to switch from stock unique to her store to more realistic options of designers and brands. Stocking clothing only unique to The Lions Den would require fashion designing efforts and skills or exclusive designs dedicated to the boutique only. This is unrealistic for a start-up online a boutique with one team member and the amount of time allowed for the project. Kelsea’s new selections of designers are a lot more practical, feasible and recognisable. However, there is still a lack of variety in brands, as the ratio between internationally recognised brands and emerging local brands is too dramatic with too many brands that are still drastically new for the general public audiences. I would recommend adding more internationally recognised brands,; because, despite lacking distinction, they draw more popularity and attention to the retailer as the consumers can identify themselves with the boutique through their favourite brands.
– Moreover, as mentioned in the aims, The Lions Den focuses solely on ‘affordable’ after 5 wear. But, specific brands mentioned are actually in the upper-middle price range, if not practically expensive for the general public (eg. Bec and Bridge prices range between 200 and 500)
Digital Marketing Strategy:
– In terms of blogging only, WordPress is the perfect medium to reach stakeholders and fashion-savvy participatory journalists who are familiar with blogging; as WordPress is the most popular and innovative blogging platform available. However, in terms of the professional fashion retail business as a whole, WordPress is very limiting in terms of creativity, interactivity and customisation; as it is a closed system where developers have to abide by their development rules. Not all of The Lions Den’s target market audience would be familiar with WordPress or have an account to be able to communicate with the blog site. There is no indication of the business endeavours or intentions mentioned in the blog. Plus, the name (www.lionnessforlionsden.wordpress.com) is too long, difficult to remember and contradicts the future aim of expanding to childrenswear and menswear (Lion and Cub).
– The chosen site host for the future launch next spring of The Lions Den-BigCommerce, despite their great ecommerce potential and features, is still a closed system. Hence, they would have access to all private information and transaction activity logs of The Lions Den. This ‘walled garden’ also limits creativity outside their permission of their hosted sites.. Buyer-seller confidentiality is compromised if there is a third-party involved, who can access all private business information. Moreover, the prices offered are actually expensive for start-up individual sellers like Kelsea. I would recommend a much cheaper site host at half the price of BigCommerce and with the same ecommerce functionality, such as Wix (www.wix.com)
– The functions of the blog posts are also ambiguous; as Kelsea intends to post pictures of herself in the clothing to raise brand awareness. It is unclear how she would achieve brand awareness through this. It does not explain whether it is the logo or her portrait by which she wants the target audience to associate brand image. I would recommend the combination of both by including the logo in every photographic material posted on the blog. Furthermore, the fashion items to stock shown on the blog will also most likely, by the time the website launches, becomes out-dated, as fashion evolves quickly and it will be 1 season behind in Spring next year.
– Using Instagram to communicate with potential suppliers may project the enterprise as a less professional and serious business partner. Moreover, there is an issue of commercial privacy between distributors and suppliers
– In terms of consistent corporate image and covenant (promises and motives), there is no link of coherence between the blog and the future website in particular, and among platforms in general. This could cause an eventual misalignment of corporate identities, as mentioned earlier in the aims critique)
– Apart of all of the above, the planned website layout and functionality seem very clean-cut, innovative, simplistic and accessible.
To top off, there has not been enough technological progress put into place. Most statements and demonstrations are only at a presentation stage rather than a practical stage. The overall artefact lacks evidence of actual practical progress in constructing sites, aggregating and producing material on their operational platforms.
The overall BETA demonstration was verbally well communicated and stylishly designed for fashion experts and professionals to be convinced. The language used was concise and clear, as the presenter effectively asserted her intentions and explained her understanding of fashion. Evidence of research was exhibited properly and integrated in the presentation neatly to back up her justification for the use online shopping as the business domain. However, more graphic demonstrations such as videos and website interactivity would convey the message more professionally and effectively in a convincing manner.