We can’t help but closely follow Gap’s antics. Despite a reputation for back-to-basics dressing, the company has been one of the more experimental retailers in the social and digital realms over the past 18 months. First they launched a style blog, GapMag. Then they offered discounts via a virtual bargaining site. They gave away jeans through a partnership with Facebook Places (those disappeared instantly) and promoted new denim with food trucks. And now, it seems, the company’s fortunes are turning around, and it might have nothing to do with any of that.
In North America, same-store sales rose 7% during the third quarter of 2012 (last year they declined by 6%), following 10 months of growth. Seth Farbman, the company’s chief marketing officer, attributes the positive numbers not to digital sleights of hand but to improved product quality, a new design team, and…baked goods? In-store marketing has been simplified and made to appeal to customers in a very basic way, which includes offering charging stations (hey, that is helpful) and, once in a while, snacks. These “community tables” are meant to be places for customers to congregate.
Meanwhile, the store finally jumped on the blogger bandwagon, bringing in popular teams from sites like Who What Wear to showcase and style their newest product in an online editorial feature called Styld.By. So there you have it: taking Gap as a lesson, to increase sales, improve product quality, bring in outside experts to show how to wear it, and do customers a favor by giving them a snack and a place to charge their darned phones.