Introducing… Public Service Retail

14 Oct

When you’re shopping, how often do you find something you not only want, but really need as well? For the many hundreds of thousands of people who don’t fit the parameters of a median range of sizes, buying clothes is a particular soul-destroying exercise. Even when you’re just outside of the norm, it isn’t unusual to have so little choice that it feels as though the store is deciding for you.

For nearly a year now, The Lanky Jeans Co. has been catering for customers looking for jeans in sizes beyond normal. We’re not changing the world, and we certainly haven’t invented anything new. Our customer feedback, however, suggests that we are doing something different. Yes, it would be nice to have some things (not to be listed here – what we want is up to each of us), but we also need some things.

And, by and large, these things are out there. Putting them together in one place is what we’re aiming for.

Customers get in touch often just to say “thanks” for doing something very simple – focusing on a specific requirement, so that they can wear what everyone else is. What we’ve found (and always suspected, having set out to serve niches) is that the desire to cater for the many who are ignored is a hybrid between providing and sellingPublic Service Retail as we like to call it.

Like we said – nothing new, but something which is being crystallised by companies like ours. Don’t believe us? Try googling “Public Service Retail”. As of today (14th October 2013), it’s not there (certainly not in the sense outlined here). Hopefully it soon will be, and in the content of editorials as well, to the great benefit of customers and also stores who can, and must, make their offer more flexible and inclusive.

ps. For our take on Public Service Retail, visit The Lanky Jeans Co., or our sister sites shortstuffjeans.com and The Big Jeans Company.

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Pop-up culture?

20 Nov

In has been announced, in the wake of Comet sliding into administration, that a record number of High Street shops are lying empty. In some regions (namely Wales and the North), this figure reaches 15%. Northern Ireland beats the lot with an unoccupied rate of 20%.

The relationship between ‘online only’ retailers such as The Lanky Jeans Co. and the traditional landcape of the High Street and beyond is mixed. There are many reasons for being online only. At the top of most lists will be the opportunity to market to a nationwide (or global) audience, the ability to react quickly to new demands and trends, and the prohibitive cost of a bricks-and-mortar rent. Not to mention the shopfitting and associated costs.

The emergence of an increasingly popular retail opportunity – the “pop-up store” is a strategy used by both start-ups and large, established companies, as they aim to disrupt existing business models, make a brief impact in an otherwise inaccessible location, or take advantage of a current demand which outstrips the normal supply chain.

So, is there a link to be made here, between empty shops and the opportunity for online retailers to test the water with an experimental physical presence on the High Street? The pop-up store is a way of filling floorspace and populating increasingly derelict town centres with contemporary, different options for shoppers; the niche brought to the masses. On a temporary basis.

What this offers is a new kind of store for shoppers and a new kind of opportunity for retailers – a targeted range of products sitting outside of the usual offers from chains and multiples, with (hopefully) a very motivated team front of house keen to establish and/or expand a customer base through face-to-face interaction, with the chance to further develop a brand.

It could be seasonal, but it doesn’t have to be. Niche retailers often have no constraints as to when they sell their products. This doesn’t have to be an annual bombardment of Christmas shops. Online retailers offer interest to consumers throughout the year.

What is required? Well, many things from many interested parties. Mainly, though, it will require a movement from councils and landlords to alter existing tax and rental models to encourage and accommodate short-term tenants. Who might become long-term tenants, if they can establish a foothold on the High Street without having to commit to costs that all too often break new businesses.

What does the High Street get? Life, some colour, and some much needed energy. Even if these pop-up stores really are short-term options, this is no bad thing.

For some time now, analysts have been suggesting that we radically overhaul our retail model in this country in order to reanimate our town centres. Working towards a new understanding of what shops do and how, via a relationship with online retailers, might be one option.

From Doorstop to Digital

28 Oct

It has been announced that Argos is to phase out its immense catalogue in favour of pursuing an alternative business model. In short, they’re going (more) digital.

For several generations of Britons this signifies the removal of a brick from their lives. A big, 1,000-odd page brick. The last few years have seen a shift from paper to screen, and there is nothing qualitatively different in what Argos is planning to do. It does seem to mark a point of no-return, though.

We welcome the focus on digital, but not for its own sake. Being able to browse and buy in the same medium, instantaneously almost, is only one feature of our new consumer lifestyle and it is something that The Lanky Jeans Co. sees as an integral part of two of the main reasons we were founded – convenience and choice. We keep our interface as simple and easy to use as it possibly can be.

What might the wider consequences be of Digital Argos? Well, few will mourn the passing of a way of shopping which requires each of us to possess an acre of rainforest just so we get to browse the goods at our leisure. Beyond this, it increases the likelihood that shoppers will feel at home online. Which, big or small, is what we should all be trying to achieve.

Farmville Apocalypse Now?

24 Oct

In a telegraph.co.uk article this week, Willard Foxton asks the following question: “Farmville Apocalypse: could Zynga layoffs mark the beginning of the second dotcom crash?”, which, as a dotcom business, gets you thinking.

How do we, The Lanky Jeans Co., make sense of developments like this? And just what are these developments, exactly?

Zynga, as Foxton reveals, seems to be a deeply dysfunctional family. Assuming that Foxton has never worked for Zynga, we can also assume that he doesn’t have first hand experience of how things work there and, as we all know, each working environment breeds it’s own culture which can be difficult to fully understand from the outside looking in. Nonetheless, he describes a business in trouble.

Does a collapse at Zynga (which hasn’t actually happened yet so this is a hypothetical exercise) mean that the rest of the dotcom spectrum will be infected? One of the key questions that needs to be asked is how Zynga’s business model is stalling. Foxton’s article is full of big numbers gone bad. It seems that the main reason for the thinning-out of the bubble is that the “web-based, social gaming” audience gets bored easily and moves on quickly. Too quickly for the straining infrastructure that they leave behind in their wake.

So back to the main issue for the rest of the dotcom universe (to include both businesses and their customers): Can lessons be learned from the problems that a large, powerful (social) gaming company has in attracting and maintaining a good relationship with its customer which benefits both sides?

Social media is testing how these relationships work. It looks to be premature to say that the second big dotcom bubble is about to burst based on this example. That said, it may indeed ‘burst’, but the fall-out needn’t mirror the last apocalypse. Internet businesses have evolved to the point where the marriage between technology and customer service allows for a responsive culture of listening and not telling. It would be difficult to see how big failures could be so detrimental to more streamlined niche businesses which exist to serve an ongoing, genuine need.

But this won’t stop the biblical headlines, though.

The First One

20 Apr

Hello,

Welcome to The Lanky Jeans Co.

As the ‘About Us’ pages say, were here to try and make your shopping experience easier. We understand the exasperation of a day spent shopping with no success. Shop after shop with no jeans in your size. “Sorry, we don’t stock longer than a 34″ leg” smiles the Assistant. WHY NOT?!! Am I abnormal? Am I really that abnormal?

No, you’re not. But retailers go for the common denominators when it comes to sizes. After settling down from an incandescent rage, you can probably appreciate why – the majority of customers do fit a ‘normal’ range of sizes. But what does that actually mean? What about everyone else? We’ve estimated, through the magic of statistics, that there are approximately 1.5million men and women out there, aged from about 25-55, in the UK alone, who are at the taller and thinner end of the scale. And none of us can go into a shop and buy the jeans we want.

Of course, there is the option of online shopping. But the ‘big and tall’ e-tailers don’t cater for those of us whose waistlines don’t get wider as we get taller. Premium branded jeans manufacturers do make our sizes. But then you’d have to trawl through lots of different sites, and deal with lots of different companies, etc. etc. etc.

Here, at The Lanky Jeans Co., we’ve chosen the best brands and styles for the tall and thin(ner) consumer, for a range of occasions – from wining and dining to painting the garden fence – and we’ve put them in one single destination. And, after you’ve factored in the free postage, we’re cheaper than most other sites as well. And we know that you’re an actual real human being, and so we’ll talk to you like one.

And, just to be clear, we’re not hung up on brands for brands-sake. It’s all about the quality of the materials, the cut and the finish.

The LJC