TECHNOLOGY

Hollister Co. bringing back a familiar name

BY By Marianne Wilson

Hollister Co. is reviving its intimates brand.

The retailer, a division of Abercrombie & Fitch Co., is reintroducing its Gilly Hicks line of intimates, loungewear and swimwear. Gilly product can now be purchased in all of Hollister’s U.S. stores and globally online. Hollister plans to open Gilly in-store shops in selection locations “that will provide the customer a unique Gilly Hicks brand experience.”

Abercrombie closed down its 28 freestanding Gilly Hicks stores in early 2014, but continued to feature the brand in Hollister stores and online for a time.

"We recognized an opportunity to redefine the Gilly Hicks brand and we know our Hollister customer will enjoy another destination for fun and cozy bras, undies and sleepwear," said Kristin Scott, brand president of Hollister Co.

The relaunch comes as American Eagle Outfitter’s intimates brand, Aerie, is enjoying widespread popularity, partially due to an advertising campaign that showcased natural-looking young models and also due to young women’s penchant for bralettes, a more casual and relaxed bra style. Early images from Gilly’s new campaign seem to pick up on both elements.

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TECHNOLOGY

Lululemon’s journey toward ‘mindful’ customer interactions

BY By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Like the principle of yoga, Lululemon Athletica knows the value of learning from a journey — in this case, its shoppers’ journeys.

In fact, this information will help the athletic apparel retailer hit its newest milestone: “touching one billion people and doubling our revenue over the next five years,” Miguel Almeida, Lululemon’s executive VP digital, said at last week’s NRF Convention and Expo in New York City.

The chain is already a global brand that has eight local websites, one million app downloads, and 400 stores worldwide. The company’s growth in the last five years has outpaced “the growth we’ve had in 19 years,” he said, adding that Lululemon’s community has always been at the core of the chain’s success. And this community was built by the associates.

Whether employees forged relationships during free weekly in-store yoga classes or kept paper-based files on shoppers’ preferences, "It's never been only about physical products but human relationships,” Almeida said. “We were always about creating a community hub as our core foundation.”

To achieve its five-year goal however, the chain can’t only rely on transaction and profile data. Wanting to amplify its relationships and connections, Lululemon began focusing on web visits, email communications, social media and mobile engagement — and all touchpoints are continuously creating increasing volumes of incoming data.

By leveraging these critical details, Lululemon is positioned “to reach the right guests at the most critical times,” he said. “We need efforts that will drive them back to stores. But this required tapping into our digital DNA, whether it is from our mobile app, website or social media connections.”

It also requires the company to process this robust data at faster speeds. By leveraging a new customer relationship marketing (CRM) system from AgilOne, the chain now uses machine learning algorithms to analyze and identify customer behavior patterns — the foundation to “building a single view of guests, understanding them at a local level, and better delivering one-to-one experiences to shoppers, an effort that builds relationships,” Almeida said.

Since adding the solution approximately 12 months ago, Lululemon’s social site visits increased by 50%. The chain is also creating more intelligent direct marketing campaigns that are sparking a 25% increase in guest attendance at in-store events, and contributing to between a 10% and 15% spike in baseline revenue.

“It’s all about connecting the dots between channels and touchpoints,” Almeida said. “When using intelligence, we also saw that customers engaging across all of the brand’s touchpoints tend to have 10 times higher annual spend than those only connecting with us in one channel.”

The next step in Lululemon’s journey is creating a more seamless experience across its channels, including its mobile presence. Besides making its mobile website more user-friendly, the chain is also improving its native app. Calling it the “connector” of the “local experience,” Lululemon will further leverage the app to stream content, and share announcements about events in a shopper’s local market.

“The app is an engagement platform for us,” he added. “We believe all of our technology solutions can amplify what the brand stands for.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Target teams up with popular online jewelry retailer for a ‘sugarfix’

BY Marianne Wilson

In its newest partnership, Target has joined up with BaubleBar, the online fast-fashion jewelry brand.

The two companies have come together for a new collection, called Sugarfix by BaubleBar, that will feature original designs and pieces inspired by the brand's most popular styles. The line will be available exclusively on Target.com and in some 900 Target stores beginning Jan. 31.

The Sugarfix collection will include more than 180 styles of necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings, with items under $30 each.

“We named the line Sugarfix by BaubleBar as an homage to that familiar giddy rush we all experience when we treat ourselves to small indulgences,” said BaubleBar co-founder Daniella Yacobovsky in a blog on Target’s website. “We believe the right extras can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary and we are so excited to bring that to the Target guest.”

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