Monday, January 21, 2013

Trader Joe’s: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

Food purveyor Trader Joe’s was founded in 1967 by Joe Coulombe, who sold the chain in 1979 to German billionaire Theo Albrecht. Still privately held, the company operates over 300 stores from headquarters in Monrovia, California. “Quirky” is the byword at TJ’s. The About Us page is here.

In the About Us pages for Trader Joe’s, one page leads to the next: the main page has a link to Our Story, and Our Story links to the Timeline. That means we’re not roaming about: we’re directed toward the information the company thinks is most important, and then enticed to read further. How nice not to have to revisit the menu and try to remember which pages we’ve already visited!

The quaint black-and-white graphics used in the right-hand menu match the casual tone of the text (“Would you believe we started out ...?”). The mood is maintained in the background on the left and right sides, where similar old-fashioned graphics appear.

Products/Services: A
The About Us and Our Story pages don’t mention specific products; instead they emphasize how the company developed its combination of quality and low price. The Timeline fills the gap by mentioning innovative products as part of the company history. It’s a great timeline in other respects, too: lots of vintage illustrations, short entries relevant to the company, and a casual, entertaining style. And (joy of joys!) it’s possible to print a copy and to see the whole timeline at once, a graphic achievement that’s easier for newer companies.

Accessibility: A
The About Us page also functions as the main Contact Us page, with links for customers and vendors beneath a graphic of an antique phone. Choosing a topic and clicking “Show me the form” takes us to a page with that asks for information geared to our query. For example, a request for product information takes us to a page that includes fields for SKU or product name.

Personality: A
Trader Joe’s About Us pages neatly circumvent what could have been a major issue: Trader Joe’s is not run by a cool surfer dude from California. It’s a privately owned company run by the family trust of a deceased German billionaire. In the About Us pages, the current owners are simply not mentioned, and the quaint graphics and casual tone make Trader Joe’s site seem thoroughly American.

Trader Joe’s About Us pages are consistent, concise, and easy to navigate. Like the stores themselves, they present a quirky image yet are rock-solid businesswise. A perfect example of honoring our Commandment #3 for About Us pages: Reveal Thy Personality. A place that’s fun to shop in … is also to fun to learn about. Well done!

Does your Web site’s “About Us” section accurately convey your organization’s history and capabilities? Every two weeks we evaluate one example, grading it in three areas that are key to potential customers: Personality (Who are you?), Products/Services (What can you do for us?), and Accessibility (How can we reach you?). Contact us if you’d like to have your site evaluated—there’s no charge and no obligation. Today’s example was chosen at random; has no ties to this company.