E-commerce as we know, is conducting commercial transactions online and most online stores do not have physical shops. From recent indications, stores are doing the opposite. They are shutting down shops to concentrate on online transactions. However, like Everlane, certain factors contributed to not just the opening of one store but a second store.

When Everlane started its operations, CEO Michael Preysman said he will never bring the company in physical stores. He even stressed it further that he will shut down the company before going brick-and-mortar. Today, the e-commerce store has two physical retail stores with one opening in San Francisco last weekend.

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Usually, it takes some time to get customers accustomed to new strategies. However, it seems the line of people observed outside the San Francisco store all weekend speaks otherwise. The company does not seem to experience much backlash against its improved strategy.

It should be noted that leaders are not always as successful when changing their strategy publicly. Brian Sugar, the CEO of media company Popsugar and an Everlane investor, the main appeal of Everlane is not its business model but its founder.

Preysman was not always fashion forward. Before landing a job in private equity, he studied computer engineering and economics. However, merely watching how things are done wasn’t what he wanted to do in life. He packed up his apartment in Manhattan’s East Village in 2010 and moved west to start Everlane.

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He says, ‘I think that commitment to both quality and transparency is a breath of fresh air’. As it turns out, consumers agree as sales have grown 200 percent in 2014 over 2013. So how did the company maintain the trust of customers? How did customers stick around and increase during this time of transformation?

Here are three things he and the company did to maintain customers during their strategy transformation.

  1. The company’s strong core values were maintained

Everlane was founded on a strong ground of radical transparency in retail. Everlane stood out to customers by being open with the cost of manufacturing. In plain terms, consumers know where their money is going and how prices are kept lower than traditional designer clothing.

Though, there is a physical store now, none of these values change. Yes, there is a physical shop now, but it does not act at odds with the strong brand and values established over the years. The company is instead leveraging its brand to expand its footprint.

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2. They demonstrated their ability to innovate

Operating a company is all about dynamism. How a company evolves with industry trends speaks volumes to consumers. The move to open physical stores shows Everlane’s ability to evolve with the industry.

This is evident in the past where online only stores such as Warby Parker and Amazon has now established a physical retail presence. This is a direct result of technological growth and the changes in consumer’s behaviours.

Preysman has recognised that a lot has changed in retail since the company’s inception. He could have chosen to stick to his work regarding an online-only strategy. Instead, he adapted to the ever changing industry.

In this rapidly changing economy, it is always possible that new and unexpected factors may call for the change of a company’s strategy. In Preysman’s case, this change shows an innovative mindset customers love to be associated with.

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3. They stayed connected to their loyal customers

Everlane learned through its online offering that customers want to touch and feel products before purchasing. Through learning and two years of experimenting on different types of stores there were able to land its current New York and San Francisco store.

Using this approach, Everlane was able to bring its customers along as it transformed. As stated earlier, the physical stores represent less a change of course. Rather, it is a deep investment in meeting the needs of customers.

The lesson to be learnt

Sometimes, the change in strategy is rooted in what a company learns from its customers. It communicates that the company’s investment is doing its best for its customers. This makes a change in company strategy not only appreciated but accepted by consumers.

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Having a long term vision is very important to a company’s success. However, it is equally important to adapt and evolve with time. They key to doing so is to stay close to core values, an innovation mind set and established customer’s needs.


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