Dressbarn Company Analysis

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Dressbarn Company Analysis

Key Takeaways

  • Dressbarn is an online retailer that is currently owned by Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV). It was previously linked to a former women's clothing store chain owned by Ascena that had operated from 1962 until 2019. Prior to its purchase by Retail Ecommerce Ventures, Dressbarn had annual sales of $740 million.
  • After acquiring Dressbarn's IP, Retail Ecommerce Ventures announced plans to relaunch the brand as a “digital-only destination.” Shoppers would no longer go to the physical stores. As part of the commitment to make the new eCommerce venture successful, REV partnered with Happy Returns in 2020 to tackle the challenge of returns. Dressbarn now leverages Happy Returns' software to power the returns' portal on the website. Shoppers buy online and drop off returns in-person at the nationwide network of Return Bars (locations).
  • To find new shoppers for its newly launched curated selection of exclusive dresses on the website (DRESSBAR), Dressbarn partnered with Quantcast to find new high-value shoppers and influence them to make purchases.
  • Dressbarn is connecting with both new younger shoppers and the older customers digitally, as shown by signs like social media posts with both mothers and daughters tagged wearing Dressbarn. There is potential to expand this even further, with baby and mom outfits for new customers who are young mothers.
  • Dressbarn uses Shopify Plus to run its online store.

Introduction

The requested details for Dressbarn have been provided in this report. These include a company overview, competitors, and corporate challenges faced by the company. Further details can be found below.

Founding History

  • Dressbarn is an online retailer that is currently owned by Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV). It was previously linked to a former women's clothing store chain owned by Ascena that had operated from 1962 until 2019.
  • The first Dressbarn store was opened in Stamford, Connecticut in February 1962 by Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe who saw it as a chance to provide dresses and clothing for working women to wear since women were entering the workforce in large numbers.
  • The company went public in the 1980s to fund its expansion and gained a footprint of 775 stores in 43 states at its peak performance in the late 1990s.
  • On May 21, 2019, Ascena Retail Group announced that it would close all 650 Dressbarn stores due to poor financial performance, which was done on December 26.
  • However, the brand was sold to Retail Ecommerce Ventures and the website was relaunched in 2020. The headquarters were moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles.

Annual Revenue

  • Prior to its purchase by Retail Ecommerce Ventures, Dressbarn had annual sales of $740 million.

Products and Services Offered

  • Dressbarn primarily sells women's clothing and shoes. The currently offered options are beyond just dressing for work, but dressing “women for life.”
  • Other items that can be identified on the website are accessories like jewelry, sunglasses, handbags, and luggage.
  • Style guides are offered on the website with recommendations for what to wear during different seasons like summer.
  • There are also pre-availed collections for different purposes like “Work From Home,” “Date Night,” "4th of July Outfits," and “Weddings.”

Recent and Announced Strategic Initiatives

Partnership with Happy Returns
  • After acquiring Dressbarn's IP, Retail Ecommerce Ventures announced plans to relaunch the brand as a “digital-only destination.” Shoppers would no longer go to the physical stores.
  • As part of the commitment to make the new eCommerce venture successful, REV partnered with Happy Returns in 2020 to tackle the challenge of returns. Dressbarn now leverages Happy Returns' software to power the returns' portal on the website. Shoppers buy online and drop off returns in-person at the nationwide network of Return Bars (locations).
  • The ease and convenience of in-store returns were replaced with “buy online, return to Happy Returns.”
Partnership with Quantcast
  • To find new shoppers for its newly launched curated selection of exclusive dresses on the website (DRESSBAR), Dressbarn partnered with Quantcast to find new high-value shoppers and influence them to make purchases through:
    • Prospecting: bringing new customers to the Dressbarn site and building awareness of the exclusive collections.
    • Personalized Retargeting: the shoppers brought to the site through prospecting were targeted with appropriate “calls to action on their site-browsing behaviors.”
    • Cross-Device Targeting: Quantcast's mobile solution provided advertisements that were tailored to individual devices.
Other Strategic Initiatives
  • According to Alex Mehr and Tai Lopez, REV's founders, the company's strategy when buying already established brands (like Dressbarn) is pairing a well-known retail name with REV'S social media and digital skills, resulting in a guaranteed winner. This is because customers searching the web will go for names they recognize.
  • To appeal to new digital-savvy consumers while keeping the long-time clients, REV named 29-year-old Charlotte Van Dyke as Dressbarn's CEO in November 2020. She has since brought new ways of connecting with customers through social media and the website, including styling courses and live shows.
  • This has been done through lots of social media and email outreach to customers. Dressbarn models and employees try out new fashions in their homes while filming them on their smartphones. There are also takeovers of Dressbarn social media feeds by fashion bloggers.
  • Like all of REV's brands, Dressbarn relies heavily on social media ads. The company uses a strong approach to social media ads. Google and Facebook ads are key to the marketing strategy.
  • Dressbarn intends to continue attracting new customer segments like pregnant women using the social media marketing tactic.

Corporate Values and Mission

  • While Dressbarn has not exclusively revealed its corporate values and missions, an analysis of quotes and opinions held by REV's co-founders and Dressbarn's CEO together with their actions in the digital space reveals that the company highly regards online shopping and plans to enhance its eCommerce business for the long-term.
  • Dressbarn believes in eCommerce first.
  • Digital technology's role can be clearly seen in the company's commitment/mission to make clothes easily available to women on the rebranded website and new mobile app.
  • The ease of product returns with the Happy Returns partnership also shows that the company values good relationships with the clients and wants to reduce the challenges they may face.

Quotes Relating to Dressbarn's Digital Strategy

Dressbarn's CEO said the following surrounding the digital strategy.
    • “It was important to really make sure that legacy Dressbarn customer was honored. That demographic traditionally was one that bought more in-store, that would rather go in and feel and see. What was exciting for me was that we could bring a whole new and exciting experience to this demographic, and give them that historic experience, but online. The live shows are designed to give customers a bit of that in-person feeling as best we can.”
  • Dressbarn's Vice President of Ecommerce, Kim Audan had the following to say surrounding the partnership with Quantcast.
    • “We were so pleased to share our DRESSBAR launch with new and existing customers. The combination of Quantcast’s Personalized Retargeting solution and Quantcast’s Prospecting allowed us to grow our audience while effectively maintaining our ROAS.”

Key Highlights/Overviews Relating to Dressbarn's Digital Strategy

  • Dressbarn is connecting with both new younger shoppers and the older customers digitally, as shown by signs like social media posts with both mothers and daughters tagged wearing Dressbarn. There is potential to expand this even further, with baby and mom outfits for new customers who are young mothers.
  • Dressbarn believes in eCommerce first and that “brick-and-mortar has to be re-thought and reinvented.
  • Through its digital initiatives like social media live shows, Dressbarn aims to give customers the in-person feeling as best as it can.
  • The Dressbarn site has been made "less clunky" with the elimination of steps in the checkout process and the integration of a mobile app for the first time. REV's technology determines whether an item will stay on the site, whether it's selling well, or whether it should be kicked out.

Existing Marketing Tech Stack

1. Shopify Plus
  • Dressbarn uses Shopify Plus to run its online store. Through Shopify, the company has achieved the following since the rebranding:
    • Launching the online store in eight weeks.
    • Doubling the SKU count and revenue every month since the launch (for 2020).
    • Reaching $100 million in the first exclusive online year.

2. Quantcast

Corporate Challenges Faced by the Company

1. Transitioning the Existing Clients from In-Store to Online Shopping
  • Dressbarn's customers were, majorly, "50-70-year-old women who shopped almost exclusively in-store."
  • It was, therefore, challenging to relaunch the brand as an eCommerce exclusive retailer and maintain the customers' presence and loyalty.
  • The company had to honor the legacy of these traditional customers while still attracting a new audience of younger tech-savvy women.
2. Re-Branding the Business
  • Apart from the challenge surrounding clients, transitioning the business operations from in-store to online was also a demanding process. There was a two-month timeline to let Dressbarn resume operations at the start of 2020.
  • Shayan Zadeh, the CEO at the time, said, “We had eight weeks to start a company, build a team, set up on Shopify Plus, figure out payments, and communicate with customers. Imagine you were building a $100 million company in eight weeks.”
  • The greatest challenge was migrating a large database of customer data to the new site so that when it went live, the brand could effectively market to them directly and invite them to shop online. Next was building up the SKU count.

The Company’s Major Competitors From a Precompiled List

1. LaneBryant
  • This is LaneBryant's website.
  • LaneBryant is an American women's intimates and apparel specialty retailer focused on plus-size clothing.
2. Coldwater Creek
  • This is Coldwater Creek's website.
  • Coldwater Creek is an American online retailer of women’s apparel, accessories, shoes, and home decor. A variety of women's clothing is offered in petite, misses, and plus sizes.
3. Chico's
  • This is Chico's website.
  • Chico's is an American women's clothing and accessories retailer including missy, petite and tall, jewelry & accessories. Items are available in sizes 0-20.
4. Ann Taylor
  • This is Ann Taylor's website.
  • Ann Taylor is an American group of specialty apparel retail chain stores for women. The company offers classic separates, styled suites, shoes, dresses, and accessories.

Other Relevant Facts

Research Strategy

For this research on Dressbarn, we leveraged the most reputable sources of information that were available in the public domain, including the company's website and Forbes. The only current marketing software that was found is Shopify. While Quantcast has been used in the past, there is no evidence that it is still being used. However, it was included in the list. The only credible and relevant pre-compiled competitor list that was available was from Similar Web. From this list, we selected the competitors that have popular e-commerce stores and operate in the same industry as Dressbarn (women's clothing and accessories). For all research besides the company's history, we focused on the current status (i.e. after acquisition by REV and rebranding as an eCommerce store only). We deemed this to be the most relevant information, especially for some sections like challenges and marketing software. In some instances, slightly dated resources were used to add robustness and/or corroboration to the findings, considering the highly specific nature of the topic and the limited availability of more recent reputable sources.

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