Although changes in business happen all the time, harbingers of future directions can be overlooked until so many companies are following suit that the development is deemed a trend. Once it reaches that stage, if you’re not already part of it, you’re stuck paddling upsteam frantically to catch up.
Some interesting developments presented in sidebars and columns in this issue may turn out to be front-running concepts that will evolve into widespread practices.
• p. 26— “J. Queen New York Innovates With 360 Shopping Experience Online.” One of the difficulties in selling lines that span multiple categories in brick-amd-mortar stores has been the physical space available. Fashion bedding is displayed on one end of the floor, for example, and coordinating bath products on another. That doesn’t make it easy for consumers to consider multiple purchases.
Enter the internet. The J. Queen online 360 Program allows consumers to see what coordinating products look like in aspirational spaces. Unlike some existing apps that place an image of a single product in a created room or a photo of the consumer’s own room, the 360 Program allows consumers to see all the products in a J. Queen line within a setting that moves and pans, and interactively changes with a click from one room, to product close-ups, to different product views and to adjacent rooms.
The 360 Program brings a sense of excitement to selling more than one product at a time—and could potentially be the wave of the future.
• p. 22—“Coyuchi Launches Bed Linen Subscription Service.” For several years, auto-delivery options on tv shopping channels have been a successful way to generate repeat business. At the same time, in apparel and beauty products, e-commerce sites have emerged that deliver monthly purchases to subscribers—whether it’s women’s apparel rentals or boxes of assorted cosmetics based on preference profiles.
Coyuchi For Life is a new subscription service with a monthly fee for sheets, duvet covers and towels that is allowing home textiles to get into the act. The program hits several hot buttons for consumers. It makes it hassle-free to replenish necessities. It plays into what Coyuchi board chairman, Kevin Surace, calls the “I don’t want to own” economy. And it provides a “feel good” component. The Coyuchi linens are eco-friendly with used linens returned to be recycled, keeping them out of landfills. If this works for Coyuchi, look for more options in basic bedding and bath like it in the future.
• p. 6—“One Kings Lane To Debut Southampton Summer Shop.” In recent years, brick-and-mortar store growth has been generally in decline with online sales rising. Pundits have stated that omni-channel retailing is the way to go. This direction is reiterated by a recent move from One Kings Lane. The primarily online retailer is opening a brick-and-mortar shop in Southampton, N.Y., for the summer.
A spokesperson for One Kings Lane reports that the company is moving out of flash sale model and into a dependable lifestyle brand, and that a physical retail strategy is needed to engage customers in personalized designing. This is a sign that what retail venues are chosen depend upon business goals and what type of consumer contact is needed to achieve them. Brick-and-mortar’s decline doesn’t mean it’s going to disappear in the future. That venue just needs to morph into something more relevant to today’s consumers and specific to the goals of the companies it serves.