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  • James Kenna

An Open Letter to Joann Stores VPs (From Gen-Z)

Dear Joann’s Executives,

I’ll get to the point…

2023-24 Could set the stage to flip your recent year-over-year losses.

Keeping in line with your “Back to Basics,” mindset I audited your online and omnichannel presence to explore opportunities in your supply chain and SG&A. As a Gen-Z'r working in the digital transformation ecosystem I brought this POV to my analysis.

Economic pressures, and industry leaders like Amazon and Walmart pose a constant threat, but the specialty core of your business and the emphasis on quality remains an overwhelming strength.

Here are my high level takeaways:

The Ferrari is still in the Garage

Seeing your technology development spend increase significantly from 2021-23, 5.8 million to 9.7, compared to the buying experience of your SFCC site, in my experience, the eCommerce performance should be higher.

Typically, this disconnect comes from flaws in the implementation and total integration strategy. (ways to address below).

Omnichannel Excellence:

Until AI develops a bit further, you can’t replace the tactile sensation of being in the store checking out yarn.

But do all shoppers take this level of scrutiny?

At CommerceNext, 5 of 5 Z-Suite speakers (Gen-Zers speaking to top brands), said they try new hobbies all the time and 3 of those 5 said knitting was their current hobby. For this group, getting material fast, sustainably, and cheaply is their biggest decision criterion. So an online storefront that prioritizes the items you don’t need to be in-store to evaluate is crucial for a seamless checkout journey. This extends to your sewing machines--a huge focus on the business.

This requires an eCommerce experience (beyond just the platform) to engage customers with the right product at the right time.

Identity Resolution and Loyal Customers

Who are all these shoppers? Are you capturing folks who only shop in-store? Who checks out as guests?

Until you understand your customers at the individual level, who—because of your brand specialty—will have higher demands for a buying preference and journey, you can’t beat the convenience of the big-name competitors.

My Recommendations:

-An SFCC Health Check. Identify the gaps, flaws, and get expert itemized recommendations to grow your online presence and negate the net sales losses

-An Omnichannel roadmap and analysis. I’m sure there are at least 3-5 areas of the business you are sure you can improve but don’t have a defined strategy due to other priorities.

-Data roadmap and strategy. Data has bubbled to the top of the conversation because we don’t know what’s next. Anyone who gives you a 100% sure recommendation isn’t being truthful. What we do know is that data is the most important foundation for the next iteration of customer experience. As this is one of your noted priorities, I think this item is an area of importance.

Of course, myself and the organization I’m fortunate to work for can help with these items (some entirely complimentary). I’m also happy to dive deeper into these subjects—I kept it brief for you to read. So you know my background here’s a brief introduction:

My Background (and OSF Digital’s)

A former Writer and Ironworker, I entered the Tech and Services ecosystem with a love for storytelling and the hope to help businesses I love as a consumer transform. I was fortunate to stumble into OSF Digital, the leading expert across the Salesforce Clouds, bolstered by a staff of former C-Suite consultants from top brands. Over the past 20 years, we have grown from a small Demandware shop to become the largest and most awarded Salesforce Partner, with capabilities in every cloud.

Incredibly unique consumer goods companies have turned to us because we are big enough to support their global needs, yet small enough to provide personalized attention and experiences. You could say we are the Salesforce Goldilocks partner.

One example I like to mention is a luxury wine brand (which you probably know) that has been our partner for years. They approached us with the goal of establishing more predictable revenue, but they had no concrete idea of how to achieve it. Together, we developed one of the first subscription-based luxury wine clubs, long before it became widely adopted. We integrated it seamlessly across their omnichannel technology, even before this service was productized.

Most partners simply take orders. You tell them what to do, and they do it. What sets us apart is our deep understanding of your business and values, and our genuine investment in your brand. We strive to imagine and achieve your next iteration through business strategy and technology.

What’s Next

I may not be the smartest person at OSF (not by a long shot), but as an introduction, I can introduce you to our former C-Suite consultants through a complimentary omnichannel assessment of your brands. These Executive consultants come from Linens and Things, Williams and Sonoma, Dick’s Sporting Goods to name a few. This assessment will include specific recommendations and leave-behinds.

If that doesn't interest you, would be more than happy to have a quick 15-minute introduction over Zoom to share a few ideas and gain a better understanding of your priorities. This meeting can be with you or any other member of your team.

You can reach me at or on my cell at 609-610-3969. If 15 minutes of our time could influence your GTM audience strategy and help brainstorm cross-channel solutions, here's a link to my calendar. Feel free to choose the best time for you.

Looking forward to connecting with you.

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