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How can this classic American maker of quality shirts ramp up its e-commerce business?
In 1932, Max Gitman, a skilled shirt-maker, decided to move out of Brooklyn, New York, to the coal town of Ashland, Pennsylvania, where he established the Ashland Shirt and Pajama Factory. To satisfy the demands of his largest customer, the U.S. military, Gitman developed a shirt fabric that was softer and more comfortable, yet more durable, than shirts of the era. That fabric would become the foundation of the company’s dress shirt business.
In 1950, Gitman’s twin sons, Alfie and Shelly, joined the family business. Shelly managed the cut-and-sew operation, while Alfie handled the finishing department. Their hard work, emphasis on developing the best processes, and organizational skills produced shirts of superb quality with impeccable attention to detail. That same attention to detail carries through to the company’s culture to this day. The factory remained a contract shop, making private-label shirts for upscale men’s stores across the United States, until 1978, when a group of dedicated customers approached the Gitman brothers with the idea of selling shirts under their own label. Today, Gitman Brothers maintains its heritage of manufacturing its shirts (and now ties) in the United States, a rarity in the industry, right where Max Gitman started the company in Ashland. Many of the workers in the factory are third- and fourth-generation shirt-makers, whose knowledge and collective expertise are valuable assets. In fact, 90 percent of the company’s shirt-makers have more than 20 years of experience.
Gitman Brothers is a boutique shirt-maker that sells through more than 800 independent men’s shops across the United States and elsewhere around the globe as well as through its own Web site. Most of its shirts are ready-made in standard sizes, with an average retail price of $150, but Gitman recently began offering custom-made shirts at higher price points. All of its shirts are made of the highest-quality cotton fabrics. Some of Gitman’s most famous customers include Al Pacino, former Pope Benedict, Drake, Gary Sinise, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama, Justin Timberlake, Adam Levine, TV’s Hawaii Five-O series, Jonah Hill, Pharrell Williams, and several professional athletes, among many others. International customers are enamored with the quality of Gitman Brothers shirts and the “Made in the USA” label, but the only way for many of them to purchase shirts is through the company’s Web site. Gitman Brothers knows that its Web site needs a makeover because it is not intuitive to users, does not reflect the company’s heritage, and fails to promote the company’s rich history and the superior quality of its shirts and ties. Building a shirt requires 80 minutes and 50 steps to turn the 25 pieces of fabric into a finished product; making the collar alone requires 12 detailed steps. Analytics show that when customers search for “men’s shirts” using a search engine, Gitman Brothers does not show up on the first page of search results, which puts the company at a significant disadvantage online. With its history of making shirts for difficult-to-fit professional athletes, Gitman Brothers wants to use its Web site to promote a “Big & Tall” line of shirts. Once customers visit the Web site, managers want to ensure that they can easily find the items they are looking for and work through the steps to create their own custom shirts.
1. Develop a list of at least five search engine optimization strategies to help Gitman Brothers move up in search engine results.
2. Write a memo to the managers at Gitman Brothers that outlines the design for a new Web site that will achieve the goals they have established.
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