In the new world of online retailing, companies really need to stand out from the crowd. No more so than in clothes retailing, a traditionally fickle and fast-moving market. Enter Everlane, who burst onto the online scene in 2011 with a simple T-shirt – the ultimate in sartorial basics. After initial success, they added ties and bags, all made using luxury materials, yet sold at a realistic price level, and sales really took off. So, what singled them out from the competition? I decided to find out for myself while researching my series of lectures on Retail and Merchandising, and it made for interesting reading.
Conscious of the millennial generation’s preference for all things ethically sourced, Everlane chose ‘radical transparency’ as its mission statement. When customers bought a bag from them, they could watch a video of the factory where it was made, and track all the costs along the line to see exactly what the mark-up was – always reasonable. And Everlane have never followed fashion. They produce well designed, classic items based around ‘customer experience’, providing a 24/7 wardrobe that is made to last. Only time will tell whether this is a retail formula that has real staying power too.
At some point in recent years we have all probably considered boycotting Amazon. What right did this upstart US company have to corner the retail market for just about everything? What was going to happen to all those independent retailers, especially the booksellers in the first instance, who would be put out of business by Amazon’s e-books and its Kindle, and later just about everyone else who was running a shop on the high street? Yet somehow the sheer convenience and reliability of using Amazon, not to mention their pricing levels, won us all over.
The Amazon story is an obvious choice for inclusion in my lectures on Retail and Merchandising. This is a clear example of disruptive technology at work, with the company offering a one-stop online shop for almost anything you could want to buy thanks to its massive third party sales, which already account for half its turnover. Now generating its own content for media downloads, and acting as a home PA with its Echo voice interaction package, Amazon seems to be taking over almost all aspects of our lives. Maybe we should enjoy the convenience that this brings for now, but be prepared to draw the line some day.
Looking through a potted history of retailing to see where it all began and how it has evolved. The ways in which merchandising and promoting goods has changed and how it is likely to develop in an increasingly online environment. Considering the customer experience, both in traditional retail environments and online, and gaining an understanding of why consumers buy, and why they don’t.
Related case studies:
Using several case studies as examples of contrasting approaches to merchandising and marketing, including IKEA – of particular interest through its world-wide reach and consistent marketing style – as well as high-end fashion retailer Burberry, trading off its heritage brand while moving into the 21st century with its marketing strategy.
Looking at fast-fashion retailer Zara, with its policy of choosing prime sites in major cities and creating attractive interiors that contradict perceptions of the low price tags and lesser quality on offer. Moving online, looking at the giant Amazon versus the relative newcomer Everlane, a fashion retailer with a policy of total pricing transparency, aimed at achieving greater rewards for their suppliers.