I wonder about C.Wonder – the next big thing in fashion retail

So, you have small fashion chain or a gift store. Maybe a shoe store or two. The concept is old as they come, really, but something made you start that business or buy that business. Big dreams. You are thinking about online and going multi-channel. Or you are thinking about how you can incorporate all that customer experience stuff the consultants jabber on about with minimum wage staff in a tough economic climate?

Someone else also had this dream.

J. Christopher Burch started a business called C.Wonder in 2011 and it is up to 20 locations and it is touted as the benchmark (and I mean real benchmark, not average) in a bricks-and-mortar store as far as delivering the customer experience goes.

The obvious (first) question is usually:

HOW DID THEY DO THIS?

Their proposition is described as follows.

C.Wonder is a place where women can get their daily dose of wonder. It is about chic. It is about colour. It is classic and independent.

The delivery of customer experience is described as follows:

[At C. Wonder] you can go into the dressing room, put on your own music, turn the lights on or off. A lot of gals don't like to look at themselves in the mirror, so they go in, put on their pants, change, get out. We want to meet every need. We have a disc jockey on the weekends, try to stay very '60s fun, motownish. We try to offer new and unique things. It's about entertaining our customer, making fun, making people smile. People want to be happy.
If customers return something, we give them a pair of earrings, they are shocked. We really care, so much so that it hurts you in business some times. It costs a lot of money.  

When I read that and watch that, I am thinking that it is not that unique or special. There is nothing in those strategies that can’t be copied, and hasn’t been spoken about – even here on this blog.

It is a good-looking store, with a clear proposition with a specific market, executed well. And they have gone one step further and added a great customer experience. (Note that this is not entertainment, but experience and there is a difference.)

But really, that is nothing new. The founder is a billionaire; which may explain how he got to move faster than you or I could; but the ideas are not unique.

So the real question is not HOW he did it, but rather…

WHY DID YOU NOT DO IT?

You have had a dream before. You have been at it a few years. And yet, here is a business that started in 2011 and has claimed the space that you could have had.

The truth is that the exact same thing applies to my business – and to me personally. There are things I KNOW I SHOULD DO and yet I don’t. It takes awhile to process the idea that getting coaching and support and advice or mentoring from someone else is not an admission of failure, but a sign of determination to get better.

  • I should be using my mailing list to market my products and services better.
  • I should be making more cold calls.
  • I should go to more networking events.
  • I should be commenting on Linked forums.

Yet I don’t. I get comfortable doing what I am doing and I lapse into doing my favourite things. I need a kick up the backside.

I know what I am going to do about that; the more important question is:

What are YOU doing about it?

We can only breathe our own exhaust fumes for so long before it kills you.

Have fun

Dennis

Read an interview with the C.Wonder founder here

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