Today's friendly Fit by Five will be focused on the new Gap website. Jane has to admit...we were so totally thrilled by the new Gap site (as reviewed at ClickZ by Bryan Eisenberg, a web marketer in the know) until we did our due diligence and...tried to shop there.
We now have to admit that while some of the new features of the site are marvelous -- exactly what Jane has been waiting for -- other aspects fall short of being female-friendly. Let's face it, the people most often shopping at the Gap are -- drumroll, please -- women! Moms, teens, Grandmoms, college girls...you name it.
Women know the Gap, we trust them, and we expect value for our time. Unfortunately, you will only get half-value if you shop at the Gap. And, as we have been telling you for some time now -- half is just not good enough. BTW, don't try this at home, just yet. The site is still under construction.
Here's the skinny: at the new Gap, Jane was especially excited about their new tool, which uses AJAX to make the shopping experience more friendly. This tool displays items in the different colors the item comes in-- on a rollover! Most clothing sites show you the different colors, just as catalogs do, but you don't actually SEE the item in the other colors. The web traditionally displays the color boxes -- as if one is able to conjur up an image of the item in the other colors. Catalogs sometimes provide smaller photos of the item in the other colors...at this new Gap, one needs only roll their mouse over the color box and SEE the blouse, dress, pair of jeans, in the different colors, on an actual model.
Tres' cool! And, very helpful. Jane has often longed for just such a shopping experience, online. Kudos to the Gap for this tool.
Now, on to the other good and not so good things.
GOOD: the option to have ALL items in a particular category displayed on one page. So much nicer and easier than continually clicking buttons to go to another page. Even with broadband, that wait is annoying. How much nicer is it to just scroll down?
GOOD: the overlay of fabric texture on items that have patterns or designs. In the women's section, we we happy to see skirts, blouses, sweaters, and even pants, with a small circular call-out showing the type of fabric the item came in. Quite helpful since the actual items are so small, until one clicks the 'see other views' button.
GOOD: the fact that their rollover tool depicting colors tells you the color -- in two instances when Jane rolled over the color box, the actual color in text seemed different than the color in the image. For instance, a blouse in "eggshell blue" looked decidedly mint green to us. That might be a NOT GOOD, also, since it leaves the visitor confused about what color she is actually looking at.
NOT GOOD: Jane considered purchasing a purse -- noted as a hobo bag -- but since The Gap did not give us a size (the description said 'one size') we chose not to purchase. An item such as a handbag or purse needs to include the dimensions INSIDE and OUT! More's the pity because we really did like the purse. <sigh>
Not Good: the fact that the Gap is marketing to teens and college kids. Despite their 'wear to work' category, none of the models on the site are over 25 -- and many look like barely old enough to drive! Not to mention -- professional women don't wear short skirts to work, Gap! And, we gave up tight sweaters in our teens! Well, maybe we'll don a particularly fancy, beaded, or sequined sweater for a special occasion, and allow it to dip below **there** or cling seductively -- but every item in the Gap store (at least online) seemed to display that come hither glance. Except a few of the blouses. Regardless, Jane would like the Gap to enlist the aid of the Dove marketers and talk about marketing to women who shop online, using some REAL women. Women who take pride in their appearance but left size 2 behind long ago! [graphic courtesy of Women in the Fire Service.]
NOT GOOD: the fact that twice while trying to open the link informing us how The Gap protects our information, our computer froze and we had to reboot! Now, Jane admits this may not be a problem with the Gap site -- it may be an internal problem (but no one else in the office experienced it) or it might even have been a problem with the Internet, stranger things have happened. We, however, remain convinced the glitch was brought on by trying to open the link on the Gap site. Which is another reason we are not eager to return. That and the fact that on checkout, we did not have the option of returning to complete our purchase. We were in quite a rush the day we did this, and we found ourselves out of time at checkout. Rather than offer to save our information and let us come back later, the Gap asked us to fill out form after form. In fact, we did fill out the requisite forms, but when attempting to open the 'how we protect your information' link, our computer froze (as noted earlier in this paragraph) and we had to reboot. Hence, ALL the information we'd typed in was gone! And, so were we.
There is a great deal not to like about that.