J. Crew and Pinterest Powered Predictive Production

J. Crew just did something revolutionary with Pinterest.

Have you heard about it?

Let me explain it using our small business as the example. And allow me to explain the problem thoroughly, so you understand how revolutionary the break-through is.

The Problem:

Our business is 80% digital goods & 20% physical goods. Right now we’re trying to grow the physical product sales, so I’m doing my best to learn how to make that happen.

Even though we’re a small company – and most of our revenue is from digital goods – I can’t afford to have a lot of physical inventory backing up and sitting on the shelves.  We manage this by doing our own sewing with our small team of 20 sewers. Still, I often notice things that aren’t selling well – and I wonder:

  1. Why didn’t those do as well as the darker denim version?
  2. How am I going to get rid of these slower sellers without lowering the price and damaging our pricing power?
  3. How can we get better at predicting what will sell – so I can make more of the winners and avoid over-producing the losers?

So  our “Perfect World” is simple:

  1. The designers design what’s in popular demand.
  2. The sewers sew an amount that we can sell quickly.
  3. The price & promotion work well – and customers see the item, and say “yes to the dress”.

But what really happens is this:

  1. The designers design things that are popular, but also a few things that are less popular.
  2. The sewers make an even amount of each since we don’t know which will be “really popular” and which won’t.
  3. The less popular items sit on the shelf – and I have a problem – I paid the sewers & designers a lot of money to work on those items, but I’m not making my money back.

The growing inventory costs can kill you. To cope – most retailers give the unsold items away to charity at an industrial scale for distribution oversees (yes, I used to work at World Vision  – they receive hundreds of millions of dollars of Gift-In-Kind donations).

Revolution Time:

Now let’s look at this same process and insert the J. Crew revolution…

  1. The J. Crew designers design things that are popular, but also a few things that are less popular (like everyone else).
  2. (This is my assumption, since J. Crew isn’t talking about it) They make a small amount of the physical items – say enough to be super conservative & not have inventory problems.
  3. They publish their catalog on Pinterest & (this is the revolutionary part) use the customer response to all the items to predict the future sales.
  4. (Again, my assumption) with this information they can scale production for the “really popular” and throttle back production for the “less popular”.

Inventory nightmare avoided (maybe not entirely, but this has got to help a lot).

Benefits Of Pinterest Powered Predictive Production:

In addition to making more of the truly popular items and making less of what you won’t be able to sell profitably (and therefore must hold in warehouses and eventually right off and donate), with this Pinterest Powered Predictive Production (give me a shout out for coining that phrase) retailers can:

  1. Raise the prices for the really popular items so they can maximize earnings.
  2. Feature the popular items on display in the front of their stores – winning the walk-by prospective customer.
  3. Feature the popular items more prominently in their paper/offline catalogs and ads.
  4. They have less inventory to right off since they used Pinterest to help predict which items would sell the best.

This is a real break-through…it will be interesting to see how other retailers follow the J. Crew lead. Here’s a nice graphic to pin :)

pinterest powered predictive production

Ps. We first wrote about the idea of creating a product catalog on Pinterest back in May of 2012, you can see that original post here.

All the best on your Pinterest Marketing efforts!

Jason Miles

Author of (the bestselling) Pinterest Power

Jason Miles is the CEO of Liberty Jane Clothing, a Seattle based ecommerce company, and the author of the Bestselling Pinterest Power book - the definitive book on Pinterest marketing. He regularly partners with leading online groups and sites including, the American Marketing Association, IBM's Connectchat, Social Media Examiner, Profnet, Marketingprofs, and similar groups.

Posted in Pinterest News
10 comments on “J. Crew and Pinterest Powered Predictive Production
  1. Awesome as always Jason. Can’t wait to give this a trial run with one of our retailer clients. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  2. John Mauldin says:

    Jason,
    I admire your tenacity. I owned a chain of clothing related businesses for some year and not only enjoyed the business but the revenue generated. Still, I think that unless you have a huge backing, you are going down a difficult road. You would be better off developing name prominence then licensing the name to the big boys. Then you can sit on your beach chair and enjoy and endless stream of revenue from royalties. I developed franchises and licenses for four decades (Jiffy Lube, ERA Real Estate, BlockBuster, Holiday Inns, etc.) and I can tell you this is THE way to go. Then, if you still insist on marketing products via the net, find a good quality manufacturer where they invest in the stock and you market and have everything drop shipped. No danger from inventory and LOTS more profitable. I have a very large business doing just this. I sell millions of dollars each year with a nice profit and a 98.7% customer retention rate…. all with 5 part time employees and a state of the art computerized system to track sales and deliveries. If you, or any of your readers need ideas, advice, let me know as I will try to help. John Mauldin

    • Jason Miles says:

      Thanks John,

      Fantastic insights…I completely agree with you – if your goal is passive income – royalties are awesome.That is to a large extent what we are doing with our Pixie Faire site…(www.pixiefaire.com)…

      Jason

  3. Allan Peters says:

    Kinda like going “Back To The Future”. Back in the 1960’s my dad would order his Oldsmobile convertible then wait to have it built. By altering the amount of product you make, you effectively are kind of doing the same. You also have better product control too.
    And no, dad never thought to keep the Oldsmobile………..

    • Jason Miles says:

      Oh yeah…the 442 is one sweet ride. You’re right – this does have a flavor of old school marketing. That’s cool. In fact, as I’m working on my new book – Instagram Power – I noticed how many of the successful marketers using it are simply adapting old school techniques…

      Jason

  4. Anything to help predict retail sales!! However,given how “ADD” the American public is, I have to wonder just how well even this strategy will work.

  5. Tim says:

    This article is very good and makes perfect sense. I would love to see more ideas like these, only for digital products and services which is what I’ve got. I’ve got a large following on Pinterest (growing at about 70 per day) and yet have to figure a way to monetize it. Would love to learn how to do this! On a different note, I got Jason Miles book a few months back and it is great :)

    • Jason Miles says:

      Thanks Tim,

      And congrats on the Pinterest followers…as it relates to monetization – that is a function of getting qualified prospects out of Pinterest and onto your website. Here are a few questions to ponder…

      1. Are you pinning things that attract qualified prospects? (for example, if I pinned recipes all day long, my followers would grow, but they wouldn’t be qualified prospects for me).
      2. Are you pushing content from your website into Pinterest that has a good “hook” to drive traffic back to your site? (note how I always have some type of graphic related to my posts).
      3. Does your website convert?

      All the best…

      Jason

      Ps. Thanks for the feedback on the book… Don’t forget to leave me a review on Amazon (that is incredibly helpful).

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