Rue21: How Come Opening Physical Stores is On Trend?

In this article: 

  • Some might argue that opening more physical stores is kind of swimming against the stream in late 2021
  • Rue21 is showing there’s a right way to do it

As the zeitgeist changes, so are the way brands must operate to nurture customer loyalty. And in typical human fashion, what used to be enough to get customers excited about buying with you again and again – isn’t so anymore. Nowadays, if your brand does not provide an excellent omnichannel experience, marrying memorable, personal experiences with smooth transactions, solid brand values, and coherent massaging – customers will most likely not buy with you more than once and save their allegiances to brands that know how to pull all that off. 

Rue21 seems like a brand that might get it. Judging by its social media presence – from offering tons of promotions on Twitter to mixing it up with inclusive content on Instagram to regularly welcoming new employees on Linkedin – this is a brand that gets the zeitgeist. 

But it doesn’t end there. This month, capitalizing on some Back-to-School momentum, and for the rest of the year, Rue21 is expanding its physical presence to take full advantage of the festivities, as reported by Sourcing Journal. 

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According to the S.J. report, “the specialty apparel retailer will open five new stores before teenagers, and young adults head back to their classrooms and 15 new stores in total through the end of 2021.” 

But, wait, how come opening physical stores is in line with the zeitgeist – in late 2021, you might ask? Well, here’s where the report gets to the heart of the matter: “Sensormatic Solutions’ third annual back-to-school survey found that 76 percent of the 1,000 U.S. respondents plan to do their preparatory shopping in stores this year. The report further documented the ongoing popularity of omnichannel services. While 54 percent intend to shop online, more than half will take advantage of a multichannel feature, including 33 percent planning to buy online and pick up in-store and 22 percent saying they’ll flock to the convenience of curbside.” 

Yes, you are reading this right. More than 50% of respondents PREFER some kind of cross-channel experience that mixes online and physical parts. That is what customers come to expect. 

And so, opening physical locations alone is not what makes a brand on-point and on-trend. It’s the combination of great physical and digital experiences, and above all, a smooth synergy between them, that does. 

“Recent new store openings have demonstrated the importance of our store channel to brand discovery and customer acquisition,” Rue21 CEO Bill Brand said in a statement. “Our dynamic in-store experiences have driven customer loyalty and are our model for continued omnichannel growth.” 

See, they D.O. get it! 

As always, though, such ambitious initiatives always bring upon both new opportunities and new challenges – especially when it comes to data, aggregating it, curating it, analyzing it, and putting it into good use in your customer communications. Brands must adopt solutions that can orchestrate cross-channel campaigns management to truly have a world-class omnichannel strategy and coherent messaging throughout the entire customer journey. The ones who do it right can see their customer lifetime value increase by 33% or more. 

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