Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Commentary On Lululemon Banning Customers, and The Latest items in store

This jacket is the perfect example of why Lululemon took into consideration banning customers. One store yesterday sold out by noon because one shopper purchased 15 - the entire size run for that store. Wherever those jackets ended up and for how much they were resold for is irrelevant, what is relevant is that that those stores were not able to satisfy their local market. The analytics for those stores sales are skewed because they don't represent what that particular market requires as far as inventory. It has also been a problem for Olympic merchandise (read here), MAC cosmetics (which offers a discount to professionals), Gymboree, Apple, Coach (Coach has an entire investigation unit), Old Navy, Sephora which also bans resellers by locking them out of the websites. All these retailers ban customers known as resellers without an apology or any media scrutiny. Why must lululemon pander to the customer when a transaction has been identified as problematic? 

2 of Vancouver's 6 stores got this jacket in and all were sold out about 40 minutes after opening.  I understand that the common customer who occasionally sells their own gear is frustrated at the vagueness of Lululemon's resale policy, but we are NEVER going to get them to sanction reselling of any kind, even though they turn a blind eye to the used clothing sellers recouping costs. They will not ever use verbiage that suggests they support a resale market of any kind even though they know that part of the draw of buying over priced athletic clothing is its ability to sell at full price later on when we are bored of those items, in order to purchase the new. The reality is, Lululemon is un interested in the one off sellers or flippers, they are interested in the serial bulk buyer (wether they are flipping or angeling for their 15 closest internet friends). Buy an item for yourself, pick up a spare for your sister or best girlfriend, but when you put $3000 on to your credit card in order to buy out size runs you are creating a problem in which Lululemon must find a solution for the rest of their unsatisfied customers who outnumber the 5-6 that have been banned.

I know Lululemon has issued an apology over this, but they were put in a position where they had no choice due to the media coverage and I'm sure it was begrudgingly issued. It was more beneficial at that point for them to back track than it was to say nothing at all. The apology, understandably, was merely a way to damage control during a time when they were already vulnerable in the media.

And don't get me started on the types of customers that feel like a gift card is a solution to all their gripes, or chronically damage out items that are the slightest bit questionable which delves into the territory of return fraud.

I would love to know what you guys think of this situation. Tell me if you think I am wrong, or if you support the efforts to ban problematic transactions. 

Great article today on Jezebel; Lululemon's Constant Nightmare Getting Worse. Especially insightful are a lot of the unbiased comments in the commenting section. 

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