Cue releases 30 new styles per week into its stores. Some city stores are angled towards an officewear perspective, others might be focused on eventwear and casual pieces.
“There’s a good mix at every store but we do curate based on the place,” Lenton says.
Like a fast fashion retailer, Cue can get its products from the design floor to shopfloor within four weeks, but Lenton says its quality remains sky-high: “We’re fast fashion with quality.”
“Because we don’t mass-produce, you don’t walk out on the street or turn up to a party and there’s 10 people wearing what you’re wearing.”
Lots of other retailers will put buffers in as they have plenty of depth on product, but Cue is shallow, Lenton says. Its extreme speed to market means that if trends and weather change, Cue can quickly pivot and save itself a lost investment in, say, thousands of heavy coats sent out into a warm winter.
Lenton says Cue is now trying to replicate its design innovation from a retail technology perspective.
The immense number of SKUs scattered across its different stores could mean trouble with fulfilment, but Cue’s back-end integration means every store can offer consumers ‘endless aisles’.
It turned on click and collect in New Zealand in June. This relies on real-time inventory tracking across the business, with inventory management showing the customer what’s available at their preferred store on the product details section during browsing and also during checkout.
“It’s been something we’ve worked hard on, achieving that speed order,” says Lenton. “Without that stock management and the inventory being in the right place, we couldn’t do what we do.”
Cue also offers what’s effectively the opposite of click and collect: ‘store to door’. This initiative means shoppers can pay for their item in store and have it posted to their homes. Getting the customer to pay on the spot is crucial for closing the sale, Lenton says – if they’re retargeted later on, they’ll have lost interest.
“A week later, they’ve moved on, they’ve bought something else.”
“It’s about capturing the sale then and there and being convenient for the customer as well.”