The right mix of products has previously been identified as one of the keys to success for clair de lune. The importance of delivering products that meet the needs and desires of our customers can not be underestimated.
clair de lune will carry quality European and U.S. labeled products that are unique to the Kansas City market. Part of the excitement of shopping at clair de lune will be that our customers will find merchandise that they will not find anywhere else in Kansas City. Our customers may be familiar with some of the brands from shopping on the coasts, on the Internet or seeing them in fashion magazines, but they will not see many, if any, in other local retail outlets.
The quality of the products will be evident in the fabric, structure and design. clair de lune's knowledgeable staff will educate our customers on unfamiliar brands that offer design elements and fit to which they have not previously been exposed. The depth of brands will enable clair de lune to show our customers what will work best for them in terms of size, style, fit, design, fabric and price.
clair de lune will carry a wide range of prices from moderate to upscale. We want to be in reach of the Victoria's Secret shopper who spends an average of $30 on a bra. But we also want the opportunity to upsell her to a higher quality line by demonstrating the brand/price/value relationship.
The QuickBooks inventory management software will allow us to track what is selling on a daily basis, and identify hot performers as well as "dogs." We will also solicit customer feedback and invite suggestions for new offerings.
We have taken two precautions to establish the right product mix up front.
Bras & Panties:
The mainstay of our inventory will be bras and panties. In order for any woman to feel that clair de lune is "her lingerie store," we must be able to meet her needs for basics, as well as special occasion lingerie. According to Women's Wear Daily, bras and panties represented the majority of all intimate apparel sales at 57% of the total dollar volume, and we expect that it will lead the volume for clair de lune as well.
Panties have become a particularly hot item over the past couple of years, with a strong consumer demand for fashion coordinates. Women are stocking up on multiple pairs of panties to match each bra or camisole, knowing that styles are rapidly changing. According to NPD Group, panty sales increased 7.8% from 2002 to 2003.
The biggest growth is the boy leg and boy brief silhouette. The styling appeals to the junior market in colorful prints and appliques as well as the misses market with a lacier model sometimes referred to as a Tanga panty. Most manufacturers are anticipating another strong season for thongs.
clair de lune will have displays that feature a complete array of panty silhouettes including classic briefs, bikinis, hi-cut briefs, boy-shorts, g-strings, v-strings and more. This will allow customers to mix and match panties with any item, depending on the style they prefer.
Industry resources typically estimate that 7 out of 10 women wear the wrong bra. clair de lune will be known for expertise in bra fitting as well as carrying a large range of styles and sizes. We will stock AA-J cup sizes and band width to at least 48 and possibly higher. We will special order other sizes as needed. Prices will range from $35 to $150, with the greatest depth in the $45-$80 range.
Daywear sales were up 27% in 2003 according to Women's Wear Daily. The lines continue to blur between innerwear and ready-to-wear with many women choosing to wear their lingerie outside of the home. Daywear is an important impulse purchase as well as gift-giving item. clair de lune will be well stocked in beautiful camisoles, lacy shells and sleeveless and sleeved tops to inspire special purchases.
The appetite for comfortable, cocooning clothes has continued to increase post-September 11. Add to this the increased interest in wellness and exercise that has spurred yoga wear to crossover to street-wear and at-homewear, and the advances in softer, multifunctional microfibers that feel great against the skin, and you have a great formula for increased sales in this category.
According to the NPD Group, the youth market drove the growth of sleepwear and at-homewear in 2002 and 2003. In the 13-17 and 18-34 age groups, sales rose by double digits, while sales were down by less than 10% for consumers 35 to 54 and 55 or older. The styles in loungewear are less unkempt, and more flattering. They have cleaner lines and are more put together, and very acceptable to wear for casual activities outside of the home.
clair de lune will offer nightshirts, pajamas, loungewear and robes in mostly lightweight fabrics. Initially, we will not buy very deeply in this category until we get a better read on what our customers desire. There are more outlets for these types of products in Kansas City, so we may choose to minimize our offerings in this category, other than during the holiday gift buying season in 4th quarter.
We expect bridal to be a big category for clair de lune since the opportunity for personal service works especially well for this category. We will establish a strong referral network with the bridal store that is a few doors down as well as other bridal stores in Kansas City.
Shapewear and Maternity:
clair de lune will have minimal offerings in this category, but plans to expand as demand dictates.
We recognize that hosiery can be a great driver for repeat visits, and plan to open with at least one line in year one, and expand this category in year two. Since hosiery has unique display requirements and lower per unit revenue, we will start slowly in this category and develop this area based on customer demand.
Our merchandise will be purchased from the top manufacturers in the world, through their regional representatives or direct from the manufacturer.
Inventory will be tracked and monitored through the QuickBooks POS system. Basic designs that are kept in-stock by suppliers will be re-ordered on a continual basis, as needed. Seasonal designs will be ordered several months in advance.
As previously mentioned, a key to opening our store with a desirable mix of inventory will be utilizing Susan Nethero, owner of Intimacy in Atlanta, as a buying consultant. We will utilize Susan's vast knowledge of the industry and her supplier relationships to determine the ideal brands, styles, colors, sizes and quantities for our target market. SU.S.an will also advise us in negotiating the most favorable terms with vendors.
We will carefully monitor what sells and what doesn't, listen to customer feedback, and keep a careful eye on ever-changing fashion trends to optimize future orders.
We will attend at least two industry shows per year, to stay current on new designers and trends. We have already attended Intima America and Lingerie Americas, both in New York, in March, 2004, which featured a wide array of international and U.S. product lines. The shows were invaluable in giving us some ideas of what product lines to initially carry at clair de lune, and in establishing vendor relationships. In addition to exposing us to the wide array of available lines, both shows provided us with educational seminars that either reinforced many of our plans or provided new thinking to our business strategies.
We will use the QuickBooks Pro Point of Sale system for cash register, inventory, and customer information tracking. The software was developed for a retail environment and has the capacity to handle up to 40,000 SKUs. It is much more affordable than the Retail Pro system, which is the top-of-the line system for multi-store retailers. We believe that QuickBooks should meet our initial inventory management needs; however we will be continuously monitoring this system and how it serves our needs to determine if an upgrade will be necessary in the future.