Facing falling sales, Ralph Lauren announced Tuesday that it would shutter its flagship Polo store on New York’s Fifth Avenue and continue cutting jobs, shifting the savings to its e-commerce business. However, L2 research suggests that when it comes to digital, the brand faces multiple challenges.
Between 2015 and 2016, Ralph Lauren fell from the Gifted to the Average category in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail, weighed down by limited integration of product discovery tools as well as the diminishing relevancy of the brand app and declining share of voice on social platforms. Indicating that leadership recognizes the urgent need to invest in digital, the company said Tuesday it would use Salesforce Commerce Cloud instead of taking the time to develop its own global e-commerce platform as originally planned.
Even more importantly, e-commerce itself is changing. Consumers now pay more attention to products than brands, a trend reflected in search behavior. In the past year, search volume for non-branded terms such as “polo shirt” grew twice as fast as branded keywords like “Ralph Lauren,” according to L2’s study. In addition to brushing up on its more superficial digital assets, Ralph Lauren will need to confront this new reality.