Following up to my Cool Racerback post yesterday [Is Lululemon Eliminating The Cool Racerback…Again?] various people have confirmed with their stores that in fact the Cool Racerback is being replaced with the Cool Racerback II, and the Cool Racerback will be online only in addition to several other products. The Define Jacket, Free To Be Bra, Ta Ta Tamers, Scuba Hoodies, Studio Pants are all moving to online only. Several months ago I had an industry speculator interview me and I drew their attention to Lululemon’s new trend of making products exclusively available online, while stores are getting very limited product drops with products being strategically distributed to only certain stores, or US only. There have been many items I’ve been interested in over this past year that have completely bypassed my closest store altogether and only gone to 2-3 stores across Canada.
I’m really confused as to what the strategy is behind this new Online Only/limited store release trend. Doesn’t having fewer products available in store affect that stores square footage sales? Are they trying to pump up the optics of online sales to investors? What is the value of having an e-commerce site over perform against it’s brick and mortar stores? Anybody have insight from within the company they’d like to share, or perhaps insight from an investors point of view?
Another thing I’m investigating that has come up a few days ago is a reader from the US ordered an item for herself off the Canadian side, using the address of a Canadian friend who was willing to forward to her her purchases. The following day at upload she tried to make a purchase and realized she had been blocked by Lululemon from purchasing off the website. She’s contacted Lululemon and they are sending her query to a ‘Payment Verification Specialist’ to figure out why she has been blocked from making further purchases but she has not heard back yet.