Dec 06, 2018 | By Jane Boddy
Jan 26, 2017
The plus-size market is not short of publicity this year, as the $21.1 billion industry seems to have finally garnered the mainstream media attention it deserves. Among the advances are trend-savvy brands that have upped the ante for an industry long left in the design dark ages.
A leader among this movement is the popular e-commerce site Eloquii, a brand formerly owned by The Limited that has seen a turbulent rise in its few short years. Not long after their launch in 2011, Limited Brands shuttered the Eloquii business, which was later saved by a group of several investors. A successful relaunch has brought the business to where it is today – a booming $20 million a year venture that is in high-demand among the plus-size community. The brand is striking while the iron is hot in the plus-size sector, which in this case, means moving from their web-only presence to the ‘touch-me, try-me’ world of physical retail.
Eloquii will be rolling out its concept shop at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City in Arlington, Virginia. The three-month lease will serve as a testing ground, offering key insights into how the Eloquii consumer acts offline, feeding into the overall omni-channel experience that Eloquii looks to offer their community. The location was chosen based on accumulated online consumer data – D.C. is one of Eloquii’s strongest performing markets.
This, along with countless other reasons, offers a glimpse into what makes the online to offline move so strategic and appealing to brands – the abundance of consumer data collected by e-tailers offers a blueprint as to where their consumer is located, what their demographics are and what they buy. The store experience can be built around this information, offering a truly customised experience on a large scale.
Of course Eloquii isn’t the first to make the leap. Bonobos, Warby Parker, Nasty Gal and Rent The Runway have all dabbled in on-to-offline conversions with mostly winning results. The beauty is in the strategy. Each brand from Amazon to Etsy has delivered something unique to the consumer during the omni-channel transition. Amazon has recently a opened cashier-free ‘smart’ grocery store in Seattle that allows consumers to pay with a tap of their phone, with plans for curbside collect grocery stores to roll out later this year. Warby Parker just announced an expansion of 25 new stores in 2017 earlier this week, playing off of their popular direct to consumer model. Etsy has partnered with major department stores Macy’s and Selfridges, offering a touch of their artisan feel to a larger corporate entity. And fast-fashion juniors’ brands Nasty Gal and MissGuided have opened permanent bricks and mortar locations that look and feel exactly as you’d hope they would – a true extension of their online personas.
The balance of retail is shifting for 2017 as we see physical footprints scaling back and online shopping increasing. An emphasis on fewer, more targeted locations is top priority, linked to a flexible inventory that can support a strong experience across channels. The opportunity for creative expansion is rife as retailers develop new business models that cut out the middle man, the mark-up and the on-hand inventory which effectively, cuts down the overhead and often, the end price – a winning trend for all involved that is sure to keep the ever-changing retail landscape a hotbed for ingenuity in 2017.
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