**The bone of contention in this post is the title “limit one per customer” which was meant as a catch phrase. The Lab now states that the policy limits buyers to 5 items from one design.**
“We design and create innovative clothing. Our designs are based on feedback and current trends on the latest and most fashion forward runways. We collect feedback from our walk-in guests, community design meetings, local/international fashion and our social media outlets to create a line exclusively for the people of Vancouver.”
Many of you know Nancy of Your Personal Lulu Shopper and have used her services in the past to acquire items from the Lululemon Lab in Vancouver after seeing items the lab has promoted on Facebook, Twitter or the new Lulu Lab Blog. Sadly, Nancy is being severely limited in the items she may purchase for you despite the fact that Nancy offers this service to you free of charge as a hobby and a form of retail therapy for herself. I can understand the Lulu Lab having a policy across the board that prevents people from buying items to resell on ebay, however, those customers that do capitalize ARE NOT being limited. Nor are the customers that buy up inventory off the lululemon website in all size runs prevented from capitalizing on the lululemon ‘scarcity model designed to frustrate the customer‘. So those of you that are buying from as far away as Australia, Singapore, Japan etc. will now need to make your purchases on ebay at heavily marked up prices because Lulu Lab items are just for Vancouverites. Which is really a funny thing to me because the success of the Lululemon Lab has really exploded over the past year. I remember visiting the lab back in 2009 when it opened and it was a much different place from what it currently is and not the elite boutique it has become. Back then it was a few design desks and one rack of clothes with really, very avaunt guard pieces (heavy gauge wool cable knit shorts anyone?) and now you have a full accessories lineup with circle scarves galore. I don’t often see Lulu Lab pieces worn around the city. In fact, I once saw a person wearing a circle scarf and she happened to be a lululemon educator at another store.
What irritates me the most is not the new limit in quantity guests are allowed to purchase but the manner in which this issue is being treated and specifically how guests are being treated. I dislike hearing that items are physically being taken out of Nancy’s hands counted and put back on display if she’s purchased those items on a past visit. How do they know what was purchased on her last visit? well they have a file started for her with a tally of what she buys. They grill her when she comes in and she’s treated with suspicion and asked who she is buying for. Now if the powers that be are clever, they would take this (and other interactive guests) as an opportunity to learn and market test and understand the client they are serving better instead of shutting down and choosing to disregard the value of one guest that is really equal to thousands of guests. Why is the guest that is there to spend thousands of dollars weekly being treated like a shoplifter? The Polocross Pants of last year were a huge success with US clients (that have not set foot in the Lulu Lab) and we later saw that design taken into mainstream Lululemon stores. Why not start allowing phone sales with local pickups? Wouldn’t that be the simple low cost solution instead of alienating your client base?
I really like the lab space and respect the artists that work there. As an artist myself I enjoy stepping back into creative worlds like that and learning about the processes and artists behind creations. Fashion is driven by commerce and without someone there to vote on your designs the space that was initially more of a gallery and is now a retail boutique space would not enjoy the success that has evolved, particularly not when guests are treated poorly. Art is for the people, not just for the elite few.
So managers this is your exercise of the day. A little math should get us all sweating:
What is your monthly store sales volume? What is the average life of a customer?
Lets say 3 years and they visit once per month and spend..I dunno…$200. That’s $7,200 in 36 months (but we all know $200 is a very conservative number but lets pretend that’s an averaged number). So each customer like this is worth $7,200 for you. But wait…what if that customer tells just one person about you or exposes your brand to more customers?? What if that customer tells 1000 people? or 15 000 people?? Then that customer is worth much much more. And what if you’ve upset that customer and they leave?? You can see how those variables can have an effect on the prosperity your business.