Apricot Lane Boutique Launches E-Commerce Site - Leading Fashion Franchise Offers ‘Unique Boutique’ Concept Maintaining Franchisee Independence While Driving Online Sales

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Apricot Lane Boutique has expanded the success of its brick and mortar franchise system online with the launch of the company’s new website, http://www.apricotlaneboutique.com. Apricot Lane Boutique is a fashion boutique offering trending affordable apparel, jewelry, handbags, accessories and gifts for women and the company is supported by franchisor Country Visions, Inc.

Fall Lifestyle Image- Girls in field featuring Apricot Lane fashions, shoes and accessories

The journey to find new fashions and accessories starts with www.apricotlaneboutique.com

"Apricot Lane is based on franchisee participation,” said Petersen. “By launching our new online website we are able to enhance our brand image, serve our customers needs and provide a unique ability for franchisees to grow their online business as well."

More than 100 open and planned stores are represented across 36 states in the Apricot Lane franchise system. The online presence will expand upon the company’s unique boutique experience by offering customers high fashion looks, with the convenience of a customer service platform which includes live chat, a simplified online experience, shopping cart and in-store kiosks for product search and purchase.

“At Apricot Lane, we are committed to providing our franchisees maximum participation and support to serve their customers to grow their business,” said Apricot Lane co-founder Ken Petersen. “We are unique in that we have invited each franchisee the ability to partner in the success of the e-commerce model to help grow their business online as well.”

Franchising 2.0
It’s no surprise that Ken Petersen and partners Scott Jacobs and Tom Brady, are leading the pack in franchise innovation. Since Apricot Lane’s inception in 2007, it has always been their goal to stay ahead of the trends, both in fashion and business modeling. Over the past several years, the founders and select franchisee partners have been testing pilot programs through a Facebook sales presence to build the consumer base and the technologies necessary to be a true online force in the highly competitive e-commerce market.

Running point on strategy, design and execution is Spiegel Design Group of Los Angeles, selected by Apricot Lane and the site operating partners to design one of the most technologically advanced online retail platforms to benefit customers by offering the most convenient way to enjoy Apricot Lane’s fashions, accessories, shoes and gift items.

A Unique Franchise Offering
To encourage a fully integrated marketing approach and localized system-wide franchisee support, Apricot Lane e-structured a unique profit-sharing model, which distributes 10% of total gross sales to participating franchisees. One unique upside for independent franchisees is the “no cost” opt-in with the corporate e-commerce program to participate. Sales are not limited to local zip codes, enabling franchisees to market to family, friends and customers who may not be located in their specific market, but still want to “shop local.”

“We’ve made it easy for our franchisees to market the e-commerce site, regardless of location through social media efforts, email programs and PR activities," commented Petersen.

With responsive new online layouts, shoppers can click on the “Shop Now” tab on all social media and email communications and it will connect each shopper to their local store. This allows customers to choose from a wide variety of products online while still allowing local franchisees to continue to engage and build relationships with their hometown shoppers. Apricot Lane has had a longstanding commitment to encouraging local franchisee independence, which leads to powerful, local customer relationships.

“We worked hard to provide an e-commerce solution that builds the brand while providing our collective customers the best possible experience online,” said Petersen. “Through intuitive design, navigation, functionality and database management systems, we can offer our loyal Apricot Lane customers a solid and personalized online experience, while maintaining their relationship and connectivity with their local boutique.

A deepening connection between a brand's online presence and individual locations can mean new opportunities. Stores have the option to create operational efficiencies and new revenue opportunities by investing in technology, such as in-store kiosks and tablets, to showcase their extended online product selections. Local Apricot Lane stores can opt to offer a custom kiosk to house an iPad for customers to easily access online merchandise in the participating stores. The online kiosks will provide current clientele the ability to search for exclusive online styles, request items be shipped directly to their home or to be picked up in-store.

“Our franchise is only as successful as our franchisees and our customers’ loyalty, so this site had to be created with that in mind,” said Petersen. “We created a system that allows everyone to win – most especially the customer.”

About Apricot Lane and Country Visions, Inc.
Apricot Lane is a member of the popular Country Visions, Inc. franchise, specializing in offering a high variety of fashion-forward styles, accessories and gift items at affordable prices. The franchise offers a new mix of merchandise both online and in-store, and offers customers the ability to build a unique style. Approaching system wide sales of $50 million and growing at a pace of 20-30 stores per year provides new resources and opportunities system wide that will keep Apricot Lane Boutique on top as a fashion trend leader and top retail franchise.

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Stacey Graham
SGPR Group
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