Alo Yoga and the Future of Retail
My girlfriend’s been talking about this yoga clothing store on the 3rd street Promenade in Santa Monica every time we go by it. For the most part, I hate shopping, especially in malls.
And it’s no mystery that malls are in decline. Because with the convenience and price of Amazon, who wants to wade through the stacks and spend an hour of your time at stores?
But I went in to buy her a gift card for her birthday.
So the first thing I notice is it’s not for everybody. What meaning it’s not for every, body. In price and in fit. While many retail brands push to hit the mass demo, creating both media and clothing that can fit for everyone of every type, Alo goes deep into the beautiful, the fit, and the youthful, to keep it’s alure as a high end brand.
This store’s got a coffee shop inside. Trust me, this is the new trend (a new bike shop just opened up a few blocks away with the same deal), and a bank, a BANK (I can’t even remember which one an it’s right by me) has a coffee shop in their location as well.
Because for retail to win in the age of Amazon Prime it’s all about the experience. There has to be more of a reason to go there.
So you walk into an Alo and immediately you see two giant lookbooks filled with Alo lifestyle photography. These are purchasable, and took serious dedication from the brand to put together. Then the coffee bar with couches (and of course, kombucha) and snacks. Then the people who work there that seem more like your fit friends from the yoga studio than store clerks. They’re hanging out in the yoga gear, helping you if you need it.
And most of their shops include a yoga studio inside them or above them. It’s an attempt to be a place to gather. And when you want to fit into the tribe, to aspire to seek youthful perfection, they’ve got the gear you need to be in the club…
I spoke with the manager, who told me they probably wouldn’t want to open more than 10 stores. In keeping congruent with their brand-strategy, everything seems to have spared no expense. Keep everything as high end as possible, get all of the details right.
Ha, and I just looked up their info on their about page, see below (from their website):
Where there’s a solar-powered office, yoga five days a week for employees at our on-site gym, organic food trucks, electric-car charging stations, an advanced recycling program that reduces waste to that of a small household, and meetings outside by the fountains in our meditative Zen garden. We have a gong. And we use it. Our stores are designed to be places to commune — people and ideas mingle over organic juice, kombucha and coffee. And the airy yoga studio and roof deck at our Beverly Hills flagship store is where it’s really happening. There’s even a super-sized cosmic mural on one wall — come by for some astral travel (or just to take an Instagram pic).
THIS ISN’T A HALF ASSED ATTEMPT.
What I don’t understand, though, is that they are selling in Nordstrom. Sure, it’s short term cash, but at the expense of the brand? It’s why Gucci burns their bags that don’t get bought. They don’t want an oversupply, as it’s a token for the elite to showcase their status. This short term play hurt too many retails of the past decade. They created a niche, a premium brand, and then sold out to big box stores which cheapened the brand and ultimately hurt them in the long run.
Don’t be a commodity if that’s not your market.
And if you’re going in a direction, GO ALL IN.
The manager who I spoke with told me they would be doing no more than 10 physical locations. Which seems to be a smart move, they can push more online, and their 1Million+ Instagram followers can buy. Not to mention they hired a famous store designer to put the shop together to get everything looking right.
So Alo is doing it right from a retail perspective. They chose high end and they spared no expense to really do it right. We’ll see how it plays out for them. Will people still choose the physical location if the location is a destination? Or is this just a pipe dream for entrepreneurs wanting this to be true?
Either way, I’m kind of excited to go back with the gift card and speak with them more. Maybe that’s a hint that the destination retail store is possible.
Alo Yoga on Instagram