Updated 9/10/12 @ 4:45pm: Several specific figures have been revised for greater accuracy from what was originally shared by Urban staff.
Urban Outfitters Inc. has a new look.
Four months ago, the specialty retail giant based in the Navy Yard decided on a “fundamental change” in its identity, says senior IT recruiter Dave Thompson. Instead of thinking of itself as a retailer that does ecommerce, Urban Outfitters is shifting to become an ecommerce company that does retail.
The company, which includes several brands, including Urban Outfitters, the largest, has big goals for its ecommerce push.
Ecommerce is currently nearly a quarter of the $2.5 billion company’s annual revenue. In five years, Urban Outfitters aims to double its sales and have half of those online, Thompson says.
Why the sudden change? The profit margins are higher, but Thompson says, for Urban Outfitters, it just makes sense. The core demographic for the company’s largest brand, Urban Outfitters, is 16 – 23 year olds, an age range that’s adjusting to and adopting all the latest technology.
Here are four ways the international retailer is taking on ecommerce:
- Larger tech team. In the last four months, the company has ramped up its IT department, hiring some 50 designers, developers and digital marketers, and it’s not finished. Thompson says Urban Outfitters still has about 50 more IT positions to fill. The company has about 300 staffers dedicated to ecommerce, Thompson says.
- Dedicated space. Urban Outfitters is building a space for nearly two-thirds of its ecommerce staff. Construction is set to finish by January 2013, says IT recruiter Tessa Dill.
- Fewer brick and mortar stores. The company has been opening about 60 stores per year, but Thompson says they could be trimming that number down and spending more money on ecommerce efforts.
- Online exclusives. In the last year, Thompson says Urban Outfitters has made a big push with its online-only sales, a practice that was started about two years ago.