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“ Centric Market Intelligence is like having an invisible member on your team to back you up on every decision that you make. ” — Kelly Wang, Director of Merchandising at Everlane
“We were doing a lot of our own manual web crawling, monitoring competitor websites, counting the number of long sleeves versus short sleeves, crewnecks versus V necks; it was a lot of time on our team’s end.”
Kelly Wang, Director of Merchandising at Everlane describes the situation prior to using Centric Market Intelligence™. She expresses the desire for the merch team to be spending their time analyzing data points and insights and using that information to convert into actions based on decisions. Today, the company leaves that data gathering up to Centric Market Intelligence so the team members can focus on more strategic work.
Founded in 2011 and headquartered in San Francisco, Everlane is an apparel company with a focus on sustainability and a philosophy of ‘radical transparency’—letting the consumer know how much it costs to make an item and what the markup is, along with environmental information like CO2 emissions, where the garment is made and even a link to the factory that produced it. Sourcing high-quality materials, Everlane produces clothing that will last, both with respect to style and longevity.
Three years ago, Everlane’s founder, was the one who introduced Centric Market Intelligence. He wanted to disrupt retail in more ways than one, which included software that brought in external data points in a way that changed the way Everlane works.
Wang explains, “At the time, especially in the earlier days of Everlane, we were launching our first jean ever, our first swim ever, our first underwear ever, our first sneaker ever. Everything was the first, and that means that we were having to make big business decisions with limited data points.” The team would find the leaders in the space they were looking to enter to learn what those top performing companies were doing, giving them the assurance to jump in.
When Everlane’s new CEO joined in 2021, Everlane continued to lean into Centric Market Intelligence. Wang remarks, “Our CEO Andrea O’Donnell came on at a transformative time for the business, and we often refer to the phrase ‘we are building the plane as we are flying it.’ Data is incredibly important because we are evolving the business; we are still reacting to unprecedented changes in consumer demand.” Wang is referring to the tumultuous past few years which have included disruptions like a global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, the war in Ukraine and unprecedented warm temperatures, among others.
As a relatively young company trying to transform so much at the same time in terms of strategy and way-of-working, Wang says, “Having data is comforting as we forge ahead. We rely on Centric Market Intelligence to look at external data points to guide us in the right direction.”
Everlane is an ‘item-based’ retailer. Wang explains, “That means we consider every item’s launch date; when to launch a cashmere turtleneck sweater. It isn’t like traditional retailers where you drop an entire collection: turtlenecks, crewnecks, short sleeve, long sleeve pants or shorts—everything’s all together. We really look at when is the exact right time for this specific item to launch in our assortment—when consumers want it.” With relatively few years of their own sales to look back on, Everlane turns to Centric Market Intelligence to review market history to see that ‘oh, sales of turtlenecks really spike in November.’ She notes, “That is incredibly helpful for an item-based business.”
One of the clear benefits of Centric Market Intelligence is the time savings being returned to the team. Wang says, “When we’re asked to validate the pricing architecture of our linen business, we can pull that information very easily and quickly. We can generate a report to share with the exec team to show why we’ve priced linen in between competitor A and competitor B. And we’re confident that this is the right pricing range.” It is this level of efficiency and data integrity that validates decisions, giving the team the freedom to focus on product and sustainability initiatives.
Another benefit is the effort it would take to get the information that Everlane gets from the tool. Historical information especially, has proven to be critical. Wang explains, “In retail, you’re planning so far in advance. Say we’re looking at what puffers [jackets] we should design for next year. But if you’re in the dead of summer, there are no puffers on any websites to compare in terms of competitors’ pricing.” It had long been a challenge for Everlane to have anticipated those reference points from the season before, while developing products out-of-season. Centric Market Intelligence removes those issues by giving users the ability to easily look up historical price and promotion data in any number of categories.
The international team has used Centric Market Intelligence to compare prices between US and Canadian dollars and international price points. The merchandising team primarily uses Centric Market Intelligence for validation. Wang notes that most retailers have had to increase their prices in the last few seasons. The tool has allowed Everlane to map the marketplace in order to create a more cohesive pricing architecture. Wang says, “Since partnering with Centric Market Intelligence, we’ve really been able to clearly establish pricing architecture by category.”
For example, they know that denim starts at price point X and the most premium price point is Y. Shorts are priced $10 below long bottoms. Now, these conventions are applied consistently across the board. She continues, “By looking at key competitors and leaders in those categories, we saw the ratios that we could apply to our own products in those same categories.” No need to reinvent the wheel…
Everlane espouses a balance between classic styles and trendy fashion. The Trend Radar section of Centric Market Intelligence enables users to evaluate year-over-year growth of search terms, to determine if they are increasing, declining or maintaining. “One of the ways that Centric Market Intelligence has been super helpful, is giving us the ability to evaluate the lifecycle of consumer demand for a particular product design: whether it is lasting, growing over time and not waning, or is it something like cowboy western boots that peaked quickly and dropped quickly.” With a nod to their sustainability mission, Wang says, “We don’t want to create waste. We want to make timeless, quality classics. But we have to stay relevant. It really is a tricky balancing act as a brand that is primarily focused on sustainability. In that sense, Centric Market Intelligence helps us be responsible stewards when it comes to fashion.”
Being able to compare your assortment vs. competitors’ assortments gives valuable insight into potential white space. Wang confirms, “It showed us definite gaps at certain price points and end-uses. Like occasion dressing vs. casual dressing, silk dresses vs. t-shirt dresses. That strengthened our conviction to increase our ‘put-together’ offer.” Wang says that post-COVID, everyone was done with sweatpants, and saying, ‘I want to wear real pants now.’ “Centric Market Intelligence showed us that other brands were also increasing their assortments in hard pants and decreasing leggings and sweatpants.” Wang emphasizes, “We don’t use Centric Market Intelligence to direct our strategy, but to validate it.”
Wang likens the cost of the Centric Market Intelligence contract to hiring an intern or an assistant merchant to do the job full-time. “At Everlane, every person does more than they would at a larger company—you get to do the full gamut when you’re on a lean and small team,” says Wang. “And so, the idea of having someone who is more junior that just does manual human web crawling, means we’re not giving them the opportunity to experience that small team startup exposure to different things. They’ll miss out on the upward mobility and career growth trajectory if all of their time is spent on something that is so highly manual.”
So much of what Everlane does, is validated by an outside perspective. Every decision the merch team makes, whether they’re recapping the business or pitching seasonal briefs for the next year or changing price points, is corroborated by data from Centric Market Intelligence. Wang makes a rather interesting pronouncement:
Everlane sings the praises of the collaborative nature of the Centric team. “It feels like an extension of our own teams,” says Wang. “They’ve met with our individual team members who’ve asked for help with a problem like, ‘I’m launching swimwear, what should I look at? Who should I look at? How should I approach it? Can you add these brands for me?’ We’ve also had Centric do training sessions for new team members. It has been very collaborative. Centric Market Intelligence is more than just a software platform. We really feel that Centric is there to support our end goals.” She adds, “We’re very thankful for the human-to-human interactions that we’ve had with the Centric team.”
Centric Market Intelligence has been super intuitive. Says Wang, “I feel like every week, the teams are discovering a new chart or different way to use it. They’ll show me another feature that they’ve found.” She states that the team members even “compete for who’s the super user of the quarter, and things like that… They actually enjoy having the tool. And oftentimes when we onboard somebody, the first thing I hear is, ‘Wow, I wish we had this at my old company!’”
As Everlane continues to evolve their assortments and product strategies, reacting to changes in the retail industry at large, Wang says they will keep monitoring how other brands are responding as well. “For example, climate is affecting how people are buying seasonal products, pushing the deliveries of sweaters and puffers later, year after year.” Those are some of the macro trends happening inside and outside of retail. “Our team will continue to navigate the unknown by utilizing Centric Market Intelligence.”