Competitors are challenging Lululemon’s status as the golden child of retail.
Once lauded for its revolutionary business model the yoga retailer has fallen on hard times recently. Last week, the company recalled 17 per cent of its pants for being too sheer.
Athleta is seen as Lululemon’s biggest competitor.
The catalogue business was acquired by Gap in 2008.
Since then, the retailer has expanded to include stores and a large e-commerce contingent.
From selection to customer service, Athleta has several competitive advantages over Lululemon. They could be enough to give Athleta global dominance.
Lululemon only allows returns within 14 days, even on gifts. Once the merchandise is returned, it has to have the original tags.
Meanwhile, Athleta lets customers return any item, for any reason, at any time. The retailer will even take back clothes after you wear them.
Lululemon keeps merchandise scarce so it can sell out. This means that the retailer has few sales.
Athleta, on the other hand, is constantly updating its sale section. This makes it more friendly for consumers on a budget.
Lululemon has a limited product selection. This creates the illusion of scarcity and creates 'fanatical' shoppers, CEO Christine Day told The Wall Street Journal.
While this trick might work in a boutique setting, the bulk of shoppers expect a large selection. Athleta delivers this.
Because of its 'scarcity adds value' mentality, Lululemon stocks very few of each size. This means that many customers come to the store seeking out items and could leave empty-handed.
Meanwhile, Athleta stocks plenty of every size.
Lululemon is renowned for its free yoga classes in stores.
Athleta took that idea a step further to appeal to a wider audience. In addition to yoga, Athleta also offers fitness events like interval training and running club.
Lululemon has had four quality-control issues in the past year. The latest, involving sheer yoga pants, resulted in a likely shortage.
Meanwhile, Athleta hasn't had any major recalls. If customers aren't able to get pants at Lululemon, they're likely to try Athleta.
Lululemon stops at a size 12.
But the plus-sized contingent, which some say makes up 67 per cent of the apparel purchasing population, should not be ignored by any major retailer.
Athleta offers clothing in 'extended' sizes, meaning that more women can shop there.
If you can't find your size at your local Lululemon, your only option is to go online and look for it.
Associates won't even call another store for you.
Athleta has made more of an effort to integrate e-commerce with stores. If you can't find your size, associates can order items online and ship them to you free of charge.
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