Fashion has always set the course for Lyn Evans’ life and passions. In 1978, she opened her first women’s clothing and accessories boutique, Lyn Evans Potpourri Designs (from here on called Lyn Evans). In 1980, Lyn established her second store in Wellesley, MA, which currently serves as their flagship store and corporate office. Lyn Evans makes it their mission to curate an exceptional shopping experience and to give back to the communities they serve.
The Lyn Evans Lifestyle
Lyn Evans does not take a price-driven approach to retail. Instead, each of Lyn’s seven stores with locations in community-focused North East cities in the U.S. strives to build personal relationships with the customers they serve.
“We get a lot of snowstorms in Massachusetts,” Shotkus told us. “Some of our patrons will travel for two to three months to a warmer part of the country. We don’t want to lose the customer just because we don’t have a store in that location, so we keep up the relationship online.”
One such customer is a poster child for this kind of relationship maintenance. An associate met with her online for a personal shopping appointment. An hour and a half and one happy customer later, the Lyn Evans associate hung up the phone with a $3,000 order.
“Our goal,” Lyn Evans owner Stan Shotkus said, “is to integrate the stores with the online community, with our website serving as a showroom.”
Lyn Evans Gives Back
With customer engagement that far surpasses most consumer expectations, Lyn Evans is building a reputation of being a community-centered business. In 2012, they were awarded the Retailers Association of Massachusetts Award of Excellence for commitment to community service.
One non-profit to which they donated is the National Education for Assistance Dog Services, or NEADS, which works with a nearby prison to train dogs to be service animals for people with special needs. They have also raised money for animal shelters, breast cancer awareness, school projects and scholarship funds, and many other causes and organizations.
Their relationship with the community is the reason their customers are such loyal fans. “People do business with people they like,” Shotkus said. “If we were just price driven, our customers would have no reason to come to us, or to keep coming back. But we’re more than that.”
Curating Custom Looks
It is out of these intimate retailer-shopper-community relationships that Lyn Evans stores began shaping the direction for their next stage in retail.
As a boutique, they serve a consistent community of loyal fans, and they always give their shoppers a reason to come back: their collections are updated and refreshed throughout the season, with a local boutique version of Zara-esque turnover for their styles.
But the market does not always cater to a specific community’s fashion ambitions. “Customers would come to us with requests for certain styles or colors that just weren’t available in the marketplace. Sometimes they would just want a longer top or longer sleeves, or a color that wasn’t available with the current color trends,” Shotkus told us. “So that’s how Lyn Evans label was born.” Lyn Evans stores now carry 24 items that they’ve curated specifically for their customers, and there are plans for growth.
Defining their Omnichannel Strategy
Lyn Evans is striving to create a seamless experience for their customers. Every store is suited with iPads that display their company website at all times to allow for cross-selling of items from other stores. If a customer wants a certain style or color that is not available at their location, a store associate will save the sale by helping the customer place the order from the store’s iPad before they go.
They keep track of everything using their Retail Pro retail management software, which manages all of their inventory for all channels. Lyn Evans outfitted their Retail Pro with an e-commerce solution from 24Seven Commerce to administer web orders, and integrated the two to keep real-time tabs on inventory across every location, without data duplication. Other solutions they tested created too many intermediary steps to keep clear inventory on both their brick and mortar and their online channels. 24Seven, as an integration with Retail Pro, significantly simplified their operations.
24Seven’s transparency and level of communication accelerated the implementation process. “It’s a very responsive team,” Stan shared. “We were communicating on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.”
Using Analytics to Direct their Strategy
The company hired a new buyer, who came to them from the shoe and apparel retailer Reebok. She was experienced in complex analytics but needed to learn how to optimize the Retail Pro reports capabilities for their retail business. So Lyn Evans management called their Retail Pro Business Partner, JD Associates, to conduct a half-day training seminar on-site on how to create customized reports with their Retail Pro analytic tools.
The buying team uses custom Retail Pro reports to see exactly what their customers want. Lyn Evans analyzes performance data from the previous year’s collection and guides future buying decisions accordingly. Last year, they purchased 7,000 tops at this point in time. This year, based on data collected from their customers’ purchasing trends, they bought only 3,700, improving inventory flow and turn.
“It’s constantly evolving. You can say, ‘Aha! I’ve found the secret formula for which and how many of each product to buy,’ but you’ve really only discovered it for this point in time.”
Now they are implementing an inventory rebalancing program fueled by Retail Pro analytics. Because they can see exactly what inventory is at which store, they can transfer goods from one location to another to meet customer demand. The customer can order online and pick it up in one of our stores or have it shipped to their home, which is a big part of the Omni channel convenience their customers enjoy. In addition, a replenishment strategy will be implemented on basic and core products to maintain a good stock position.
Taking the Experience Online
Lyn Evans is also applying this business intelligence for growth in their online store. “In order for the specialty store to survive, we have to change the way we do business.” The challenge is keeping the personalized customer experience consistent between the online store and the brick and mortar stores, but their customers know that a friendly Lyn Evans associate is always just a phone call away.
And they are not limiting their website to be just another avenue for sales. “We are promoting a lifestyle,” Stan explained. Plans for the website include adding a blog with top trends, recipes, and how-to videos, like this video of a Lyn Evans associate showing different ways to tie a scarf.
With these seamless omnichannel operations in place, the Lyn Evans boutiques have achieved a competitive advantage over so many retailers in their industry, creating a smooth and personalized experience for their shoppers through both channels, while staying true to their brand. “We are a small company with only seven stores. We don’t have the resources that the big players do. We had to do this on a budget and in a short time frame, but we have the passion and commitment to take our business to the next level.” And, might we say, they are doing it exceptionally well.