Last October, I spent a few days in NYC exploring the retail environment: Mostly new concept stores. I did a very interesting retail safari while visiting Warby Parker, Bonobos, Kith, Supreme, Lululemon lab, Amazon books, Rent the runway, Eataly, Dover St Market, The Row, All birds, Opening Ceremony and so on.
A customer Journey in the Digital era
The Customer Journey of a Millennial: searching for the Adidas Hu by Pharrell Williams
First of all, I’m a Nike fan, and these Adidas Originals HU shoes by Pharrell Williams are, for the moment, the only Adi shoes in my shoe rack. So, let’s see if this is the beginning of a loyalty story with the German corporation. To be honest, I visited Nike stores at Soho and 5th avenue and I didn’t find anything special. Adidas is betting for lifestyle and many great collabs and its success is something you can confirm walking down the streets. More and more people are wearing Adidas shoes, and the brand moved ahead Jordan as the second biggest brand in USA (July 2017).
My customer journey started when I visited Alife (158 Rivington St, Lower East Side, NYC), the streetwear clothing boutique (also brand). A friend of mine purchased a pair of Adidas Hu shoes in a multicolor model. It was there where I discovered the model HU in a tan and pink color. It was something different, special, a real piece of design. I wasn’t looking to buy new sneakers but I really liked them.
The next day, I visited Flight Club (812 Broadway, East Village), one of the stores with the wider assortment of sneakers I’ve ever seen. A shop assistant asked me if she could help me and I asked for the Adidas Hu, in my regular size and tan/pink color. Then, she selected the product in her iPad while told me to sit in the corner of the store. After waiting a couple of minutes, they informed me that the shoes were sold out in almost all the sizes. Bad luck! I calmed down and decided to have my next fashion retail streetwear experience at Kith. I liked the store at Nolita, pretty nice interior design and product display, but the assortment of shoes was, in my opinion, quite narrow. They didn’t have the Adidas Hu shoes in any color, so I became “obsessed” with finding them.
Flight Club, New York
The following day, I visited Adidas flagship store (565 5th Ave), went straight to the second floor and asked for the Hu shoes. In fact, I didn’t see them on the shoe rack… The shop assistant told me that the tan/pink color design was sold out but I insisted and asked him to search at Adidas.com. He checked online thanks to an iPad but, bad luck again! The Adidas Hu were sold out too.
If in a flagship store, in one of the most crowded streets worldwide, Adidas wasn’t covering the right service level and was suffering from bad demand forecasting or inventory management, the store manager (and others) would have been in trouble. But maybe, it was a marketing strategy, like Zara’s short badge collection and sense of scarcity that makes people to visit the stores more times than other fashion retailers. They could be forcing the “sold out” by sending little amounts of shoes as a way of awareness, brand positioning and call effect… I’m still doubting.
I didn’t give up and I asked the shop assistant and he visited Adidas e-shop in Spain. But again, sold out! Then, I asked him to bring me another color from the same model (red) and tried the size till ensuring the one that fits better. Right after, I got out the store and visited Oakley store, in front of the Adidas one, because a friend wanted to try some sunglasses.
Once there, I took my mobile phone and found free-wifi. In 10 minutes, I entered to Amazon and many other market places trying to find the Hu shoes without success. Those sneakers were sold out everywhere and I would have payed even much more in order to have them. Every site I visited, the design in my size was out of stock.
The Customer Journey by locations
Still in the store, I checked some images on Google shopping and after some clicks, forward and backward, I entered the e-shop of BrutalZapas (“Awesome sneakers” in Spanish). They had the model in the color I was looking and in my size! Incredible! BrutalZapas is a very cool store (as I discovered later) in Huelva, a city in Southern Spain, with a population of less than 150.000 unhabitants! The decision was taken and I could purchase the shoes without registering and clicking a few times. I would, finally, receive the Adidas Hu at home, in Barcelona.
This is a curious customer journey: from Alife boutique to Adidas flagshship store in the 5th avenue and finally “to landing” in store in Huelva, Spain. Brutalzapas e-shop is responsive, visual, easy to use and with a 24h delivery service. It’s the perfect illustration of a Millennial’s shopping behavior enabled by technology, based on the long tail effect (niche players like BrutalZapas competing face to face with other online players) and that emphasised the importance of omnichannel.
And again, as a Nike fan, I can confirm that Adidas is doing the right thing.
7 thoughts on “The Customer Journey of a Millennial”
Great article Alfonso! What do you think about the sold out? Do you see it as a marketing strategy or an operations mismanagement?
Hi Jeff! Thanks for your comments and good question.
I Feel it’s more a marketing strategy than an operations issue. It sounds really strange though that a flagship store in 5th Ave doesn’t have any size of a best selling item in a specific color. When I visited Adidas, Pharrel Williams Hu shoes were sold out in many colors. The impact on customers is that they realize that Adidas collaborations are perisheable, so if you don´t buy it now, you won´t be able in the future. Zara´s product strategy is the same one, sending new items to stores each 2-3 weeks.
But it might be possible that the success of Hu shoues created issues in operations. I´m talking about wrong forecast, planning, inventory management/allocation…
Hope this respond to your question.
Thanks again and keep in touch,