How Anthropologie is Outperforming all its Competitors

Last week I wrote about how a luxury retailer was able to create a unique and successful experience for its customers by focusing on an innovative concept, a consistent store design and great service (see this post).  However, this model does not apply only to luxury retailers, but to all sorts of stores. 

Today, I am going to write about Anthropologie's business model.  Anthropologie is an American retailer offering apparel and accessories for contemporary and sophisticated women, primarily in the 30-45 year old demographic.  It is a multi-brand retailer stocking about 50 or 60 different brands with a decidedly vintage style in each store.

However, this simple description does not explain their success.  What is then the key to their success?  Could it be their strategy of maintaining lean inventories and pushing for high product turnover?  It is certainly part of it.  These features help the company have new products in stores with high frequency and reduce the need for heavy discounting to clear inventory.  However, there are hundreds of other multi-brand retailers that try to implement that same basic strategy, but unsuccessfully. 

What sets Anthropologie apart is that it created an exceptional customer experience.  It is effectively a destination where they present a lifestyle, as much as a product.  They envisioned a retail store with the feel of a small vintage boutique, but with a larger selection, targeting a specific consumer. 

The stores are configured like a cozy house, rather than a store.  The wood floors and vintage inspired furniture is a consistent theme with their concept.  Finally, they provide exceptional customer service.  Here is what Michelle Graff wrote in her blog on this topic:

“It’s not just the vast array of clothing and accessory lines from Anthropologie that I like or the fact that I know when I walk in, the problem won’t be finding something but, rather, finding too much. But it's the accommodating customer service that keeps me a fan for life. No questions asked on returns that can be taken back at any point, which they’ve been nothing but gracious about, emailing my receipts to me when asked, discounts in honor of a birthday and bending over backwards to help when I have questions about merchandise. The always-cheerful staff is obviously trained to know how to cherish their clientele and do everything in their power to keep them happy.” 

You can find the Michelle's entire post at this link.

I have already made this point a few times: retailers need to think of their store concepts and develop a consistent design and customer service to create a unique customer experience.  Rest assured that if that experience is actually innovative and not a mere copy, customers will realize the novelty and a number of them will fully engage in it.  Anthropologie is just one more example. 

In my next posts I will explore ideas of retail concepts that are currently absent in the marketplace.  Be sure not to miss them. 

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