5 Top Retail Success Stories for 2011
December 14, 2011
Sustainable, savvy, and stylish could best describe the business moves made by certain retailers now winding down the year in stellar fashion. Here, in no particular order, are Style, Inc.’s best of 2011 picks.
The parent company of the fast fashion chain Zara is the largest global retailer, boasting a presence in 78 countries with 5,221 stores. Net sales for the company climbed 12%, boosted by 177 new stores (including Zara’s first in Australia) during the first half of 2011.
A bigger smash may have been the launch of Zara’s US e-commerce site followed by one for Japan. With speedy free shipping (and free returns) on a plethora of posh, yet pared-down, threads, Inditex only stands to gain more market share. No wonder the World Retail Congress recognized the company as International Retailer of the Year.
Angling to run with the chic commerce crowd, Amazon made some swift moves to up its style quotient this year including hiring Julie Gilhart, former fashion director at Barney’s, launching a designer flash sale site dubbed MYHABIT, and adding a slew of affordable designer offerings from the likes of French Connection and BCBG to its marketplace.
But a stealth move came with the introduction of Kindle Fire. The 7-inch Android tablet may have entered a market littered with similar devices, except that Kindle Fire has distinct advantages. Attractive retail price of $199 aside, Kindle Fire enhances the shopping experience both within the Amazon ecosystem and without (think catalogs from J.Crew and Anthropology maximized on the touch screen). Global e-commerce software provider ChannelAdvisor reports that Amazon same-store sales increased 50 percent over last holiday season.
This was a make-or-break year for the preppy peddler, its head merchant prince Mickey Drexler and president and creative director (and universal girl crush) Jenna Lyons. The company was sold for $3 billion to a private equity firm earlier this year but stepping away from the stock market has allowed J. Crew to take some fashion risks.
In an unprecedented showing at Fashion Week, J. Crew trotted its signature looks on the runway at Lincoln Center. Beyonce and her sister Solange made guest appearances as fans of the brand which only added fuel to J. Crew’s expansion fire. The company expanded into Canada and launched its e-commerce site in Europe this fall.
The 155-year old British brand is not only staying one step ahead of its luxury competition, but it’s working hard to make itself a household name. During Fashion Week in London, Burberry’s partnership with Twitter allowed the masses to peek at tweeted backstage photos of each and every look in the collection before the livestream of its runway show on Facebook. It also made select items (coats and handbags only) available for purchase immediately after.
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