NRF 2021: Will Lululemon ever get tired of winning?
With one record quarter after another since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s hard (impossible) to argue about Lululemon Athletica’s success. But as Celeste Burgoyne, president of the Americas and global guest innovation at the yoga-inspired retail chain, demonstrated yesterday during a session at the virtual NRF Big Show, success isn’t simply a matter of happenstance.
“COVID has shifted the world in some ways and really has allowed us to take advantage of all the investment we’ve made in our digital ecosystem and really leaning into our omnichannel strength,” said Ms. Burgoyne about three years’ worth of investment pre-pandemic.
Emphasizing the safety of associates and customers, Ms. Burgoyne said the performance of services such as online ordering with two-hour pickup in the chain’s stores played a major role helping the chain move its on-trend merchandise during the recently concluded holiday selling season.
She also pointed to Lululemon’s “virtual waitlist” that keeps customers from having to stand outside of stores and wait 30 minutes or more before entering. The feature enables shoppers to put their name into a queue and receive a text when it is their time to enter. It was a simple, yet powerful, demonstration of Lululemon respecting their time.
Ms. Burgoyne called Lululemon’s “digital educator” program, which was developed early on during the pandemic, “a really fun innovation” that the company “really leaned into” over the holidays. Lululemon, she said, was able to book “4,000 live video appointments” with customers on Black Friday alone.
The retailer also focused on doing what it could to be more accessible to customers in the last months of 2020, which included opening 106 pop-up stores. Many of these were located close to permanent stores to “ensure that people were able to have the ease they needed to get in and get out,” said Ms. Burgoyne.
Lululemon’s $500 million acquisition of Mirror last year is also a point of differentiation for the chain to build on. Ms. Burgoyne said Lululemon was all about “bringing fitness and mindfulness to homeowners across the world.” Eighteen of the chain’s stores are displaying the Mirror device in a pilot with promising results that could lead to further integration in 2021.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Lululemon is positioned for success even if consumers use less of their in-home time to exercise in the coming months and years? What innovations or services offered by Lululemon do you see as being particularly effective both now and after the threat from the pandemic passes?