Thursday, 16 June 2011

Good quality, low prices and hype! Oh my!

Following yesterday's post lamenting my non-attendance at the Zara Melbourne launch, I have been closely following comments and news reports to get an idea of the general vibe. As expected, many customers have noted the high quality pieces for the amazing dollar value, which really is a limited option in Aus.

But perhaps what surprised me the most was the efforts of the other retailers - Bardot serving free coffee (should have ventured in the city for that alone, I do love my caffeine!); Just Jeans giving out discount vouchers and Forever New opening later. Now I can only speculate, as I do not work in their offices and don't have an idea of their strategy, but surely, surely 18 months ago when the Fashion Gods delivered their message to Aus that Zara was to become its newest expat, some of these businesses would have had a big sit down to strategise their own future.

Considering Zara is the world's largest retailer, this would signify that their strategy (good quality, fast fashion, mid-range price points) is perhaps a good one. Now if I was a retailer, I would have set in motion a number of initiatives to turn my core offering around a few years ago. So that on Wed 15 June, when Zara opened its doors, people would think "Hey, Lil Elky retailer is really good now. Loving their collection, you don't spend too much for what you are getting, and their stores are awesome. Let's go check out it after Zara". Rather than, "Hey Bardot are offering free coffee. Let's go get one before we go spend all our money at Zara."

And after the news that Colorado will be shutting its doors, I wonder if this just first of the dominoes to fall. Frankly, I am not surprised that Colorado had to close, its product and stores were outdated, and the brand had no clear market (I am serious, who were they trying to sell to?). For far too long they were relying on the old 'customer sentiment and therefore retail is down, that's why we perform badly'. Realistically, they had a bad product offering, and when you have better options (eg Zara) then of course consumers will choose this over an outdated, over-priced option.

With internationals like Top Shop and now Zara, as well as online maven Asos, giving Australian customers exactly what they want (the holy trinity of quality, price and hype) I am thinking that unless some of our local brands get their act together, there are going to a lot more times when we have to say bye-bye. Some people might say its unfair, I think it's just business. It has been happening for years in every other industry, it's just now that it's caught up to Aussie retail. So retailers, I say stop whinging and put your efforts into developing a kick-ass offering, a la Zara, and you will be fine. Well that's what I think.

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