How Gap Get Feedback From Its Customers With Its Online Community
Website Insiders is the online community that represents the Gap, Inc. brand, which includes Gap.com, OldNavy.com, BananaRepublic.com, Athleta.com and PiperLime.com. This community provides a space for customers of these popular brands to shop and complete surveys Website Insiders provides incentives to get people involved. This site is a good case study on how a brand can build loyalty and encourage its customers to share their feelings about the online shopping experience. Looking at this site also suggests ways that the company could create a greater sense of community by proving more interactive features.
Web Insiders: Connected vs. Disconnected Modes
Like many online communities, Web Insiders is set up to encourage people to sign up. Members do not have to sign in if they want to shop on any of the brand websites, such as Gap and Old Navy. They can access any of the online stores from the disconnected mode. They do, however, have to sign in to access the unique features of the community, such as becoming eligible to participate in surveys.
The main purpose of the disconnected mode is to provide information on the benefits of joining. There are also links to the various online stores in case people want to shop. The real purpose of Website Insiders, however, is not to simply sell products but to get valuable feedback from existing customers.
Main Features of the Community
Website Insiders encourages users to provide feedback about their shopping experience on any of the online stores owned by the brand. The Website Insiders Research Panel provides surveys that ask questions about the shopping experience of customers on these websites. Customers can earn reward points by answering these surveys. Each survey pays 10 reward points; for every 50 points earned, customers get a 10 percent discount on future purchases. Surveys are emailed to members and cannot be accessed by signing into the site.
This system serves a double purpose. It provides the company with valuable information on customer satisfaction. Secondly, it encourages members to shop more by giving them discounts. Website Insiders has created an efficient dashboard that allows members who have a Gap credit card to access and redeem points from their smartphones. This, of course, is another way to encourage people to shop on their sites.
Social Media Interaction
The Website Insiders site has social media icons that link to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. The social media pages are not specifically related to the Website Insiders community, but are mainly used to promote the products sold by the Gap. The social media pages contain many product photographs, as well as information about sales and other store-related events. Customers of Gap.com and other brand websites may also provide their opinions about stores and products on these pages.
Website Insiders does not currently have a forum or blog, so no community managers are identified on the site. There is only an email address and phone number to contact the company. As it is set up currently, the primary mode of interaction consists of customers filling out surveys.
When customers sign up for Website Insiders, they are also signing up as customers for the Gap and the other brand websites. The only profile pages that are created are those that list account information for shopping purposes. The information that the company requests for members includes gender and location. Since the site does not provide a way for members to interact on the site itself, there is presently no need for user profiles.
Website Insiders does not have official brand ambassadors. Customers can, however, informally take on this role by discussing products on social media pages. In order to create actual brand ambassadors, the website would have to expand to include more features. For example, Website Insiders now rewards customers for filling out surveys. They could expand this by offering reward points for sharing social media content. They could also create games, contests and other engaging content.
The content Website Insiders, which consists mainly of surveys, is created by employees of the company. Users do not have the ability to create content that appears anywhere on the site. Survey results are confidential and used only for the company to use as research.
There is no way for members of Website Insiders to interact with one another on the site, as there are no forums or blogging features. The only way that people can communicate is through the company’s many social media pages. This, of course, can be done without even joining Website Insiders. However, once someone joins the site, they can easily find the Facebook page and other social media pages.
Currently, the Website Insiders site does not directly promote events. Events are, however, listed on social media pages. Members may access these pages from the main Website Insiders site.
Although products are not listed directly on the Website Insiders site, there are icons that lead to each of the brand’s company websites. This makes it easy for people to shop once they log into the site. Customers may also click on the social media icons; products are displayed on these pages. This includes sales and special promotions that may be specific to certain store locations.
How the Site Builds Customer Relationships
The way it is presently set up, Website Insiders is primarily a tool for Gap, Inc. to encourage customers to fill out surveys. This may also motivate further shopping, as customers can win rewards. Beyond this, however, the site does not have many features that facilitate interaction between members. Links to social media pages are the only opportunity for members to reach a site where they can engage with one another. In order to make the platform more interactive, it would be necessary to add features, such as a blog or message boards.