Catharsis: Of store searches and inventory, part II

I would like to begin this post by saying a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who helped me locate the Behind-the-Clouds Dress (now $70, no longer online). I haven’t craved an item that much in awhile and you all contributed to my success in finding it. This post expands upon my advice from this morning by recounting my two most recent store search experiences and drawing some conclusions.

The first one involves the Behind-the-Clouds Dress. After calling a few stores with no success I took your advice and called the 1-800 number. The rep was able to locate the dress in a size 8 at the Aventura, Fla store. A very knowledgeable gentleman knew exactly the dress I wanted and was able to locate the dress and put it on hold for me. Later on that day I completed the purchase over the phone. It arrived well-packaged and with a nice note from one of the staff members. Aventura, you rock! I plan on winterizing the dress by wearing a heather grey turtleneck underneath the dress and adding a pair of tights.

My second experience was with the Flaxen Wedges ($138, out of stock online). I found these to run small and since they only run in whole sizes I found myself needing a 10. Silly me — I tried these on at the Cherry Creek store in Colorado but left them behind. A week later I decided I needed them so again I called the 1-800 number and the only 10 left was in (you guessed it) Cheery Creek. Ha! I called up the store and had them sent East. This time I was armed with the store SKU, though as I said this morning it’s much easier to distinguish shoes than dresses. Once again the item arrived well-packed (no nice note this time though). Thanks to the MOD at Cherry Creek for helping me complete the transaction. OOTD with these coming soon.

Neither purchase was without wrinkles though. Aventura left me on hold at one point for almost 20 minutes. Yes, I am dumb enough to sit on hold for that long. There was some confusion in finding the dress after I’d put it on hold. The story ends happily so I’m not hung up on it. Heh. With Cherry Creek I made the mistake of calling during peak hours and was shuffled around to 5 different people before someone could actually help me. These pitfalls more closely resemble my past store-send orders. In 2008 I was sent the wrong item in one case and charged double in another (that was very hard to fix too, I was almost de-Anthroized by the experience). So I’m glad to see things have gotten much better since then.

Anthropologie at ShopStyle

I think that this brings up a larger point: Anthropologie really needs to straighten out their inventory system. I don’t blame the stores for the issues I’ve had, I blame the inventory tracking system. Maybe you’ve noticed that when you purchase an Anthro item in-store your receipt has a boring descriptive name. It’s not the Wind Rippled Tee ($58, review here), it’s the 25″3/4 Ruffle Trim Fit. We know it as the Many Moods Skirt ($78, review here) but in inventory it’s the Denim Pencil W Ruffle Trim Back.

Yeah, I get it. The inventory names are boring and take away from the experience Anthropologie works so hard to create. And those names are probably based on the manufacturer’s descriptions/names. So when Anthro scans those items off a purchase order that’s how they are received into the system. But for crying out loud! Is it really that hard to add a description line with the online product name? Do there have to be two different SKUs for each product (online and store/catalogue)?

And most importantly: why are you introducing so much friction into your sales process? What a hassle it is that if I want an item that’s out of stock/sold out online I have to call your 1-800 number only to have to call a store only to have to provide my payment information by phone only to have an item shipped to me only to have no tracking number. Holy unnecessary process, Batman. If I’m a store associate I would be so annoyed about having to drag my ass to a cash register to look up an item on the website. Assuming it’s even on the website — my store-sends are almost always items that are hidden on the site.

I realize that as things go Anthropologie is still a small to medium-sized company. And I know inventory management is very expensive and likewise the systems that manage said inventory. I feel like the ROI would be tremendous here though. As someone who increases my Anthro spend year over year I would increase it that much more if I could go to the product page, do a store search and have an item shipped to me from a store — all completed online. At the very least Anthro needs a “Find it in a Store” button.

If I do have to call a store it’d be really nice to at least get an order confirmation via email with an order number and maybe a tracking number. Yes I get a receipt when I get the order. But that is a week away from when I place the order. I like having proof in my hand right away.

Are these obstacles enough to stop me from buying an item I want? In some cases yes. I decide the hassle isn’t worth it. Anthropologie, enable me some more. Iron out the kinks.

Oh, PS Anthro, please don’t ever kill your catalogues. If someone even tries to make them read this.


  1. October 22, 2009 / 6:25 pm

    Amen sister! That image cracked me up. They do need a "find it in a store" option. I added a cardigan from the sale section to my cart ready to check out this morning and by the time I go to check out -it was sold out. So annoyed. Since I have other things in my cart I don't want to have to call a store to find the same cardigan and be charged shipping twice. So I'm like, forget it they just lost 50+ bucks.

  2. October 22, 2009 / 7:18 pm

    i feel like the 'call anthro and store locate' is one of the dedicated anthro shoppers best kept secret…but i don't mind sharing it! as long as I get to find what I want still 🙂 I love the idea of dresses and blouses underneath…perhaps you might show us some dress/blouse combos in your next outing? like the starbound dress ..but not with that blouse that's like 200+ that they used. yowch. Also, Cozy Motocross Jacket if that interests you (been eyeing that for a while) 🙂 Oh yeah, the stores don't go by anthro online names..I was trying to say "thousand day skirt in dark orange" and the gal was like "huh?" then i had to describe the make and style…lol but these crazy names 🙂 Like the Catskill Boots by Frye are only called that by anthro..they're actually Heath Lace up boots by frye. There must be a room with workers/monkeys dedicated to making up snazzy glitzy names for all these 😛

  3. October 22, 2009 / 7:22 pm

    Glad you found your stuff roxy – that dress looks great on you!Is it seriously a secret though that you can call CS and locate items?! I've been doing this for 5 years!!

  4. October 22, 2009 / 9:51 pm

    Ever since working for Anthropologie, I've believed that the only reason for their success is the actual creative talent–from store decor to the actual buyers and designers of the products themselves. They ride on the great product and great store experiences and have sub-par customer service and really sub-par on the inventory issues you listed and other technological things (they always are slow to get new, easy to use cash registers, etc.). Time will tell whether they can continue to ride on great products without changing some things.

  5. October 22, 2009 / 10:27 pm

    If you ask them to look for an item in store do they charge shipping? I think I remember an SA saying if they didn't have it they would ship it from another store to me for free…

  6. Anonymous
    October 22, 2009 / 10:51 pm

    What store offers the process you mentioned where you can just order from any store from the Web site?Because I can't think of any off the top of my head?

  7. October 22, 2009 / 11:03 pm

    i love that dress! you look so pretty!

  8. October 23, 2009 / 12:26 am

    The dress looks fantastic on you Roxy! Congratulations on finding it! :)For me an issue is making a return to the store of an item I purchased online. My Anthro is in another county where the tax is .5% less than the county I live in. When they process my return the store computer doesn't automatically refund the amount of tax I paid. It refunds at their lower tax, so the SA has to try and manually manipulate the system to give me the extra money I'm owed. Granted it may only be a small amount each time, but it can add up over the course of a year or more when returning pieces that don't work out. I really wish they could get the store and online systems in sync with each other.

  9. Anonymous
    October 23, 2009 / 12:50 am

    the find in store would be nice but the anthro website has so many problems — so many js errors/alerts, i just got a new one when i clicked the quick view, all types of issues with the shopping cart — that i wish they would fix FIRST before adding new features. i am a programmer myself so it pains me that someone else is getting paid to mess up what i would do oh so lovingly if the job came to me, haha.

  10. October 23, 2009 / 2:00 am

    Gorgeous dress!!!Roxy, thanks for pointing me in the direction of your Plaza cardi review. You looked so pretty in it I've gone and ordered the darn thing!!! (:

  11. Brianna
    October 23, 2009 / 2:07 am

    Hey Anonymous at October 22, 2009 6:51 PM,, – where you have the 'buy now and pick later' option. Don't think they ship it you from local stores with that kind of purchase, if you can't pick it up directly from the has an option, where you can search the stores' inventory by putting in the zipcode. It's not available for all the product pages though. And, You can make a purchase directly from those stores. But I can't think of any that I've shopped at where, you can even place an order from a particular B&M store (while browsing their website) and have them shipped to you. I wish Anthro would do that. Don't think it's hard to implement.(I work on the ERP application that include Inventory, Warehouse Mangement, Export Screening, Shipping modules! hahaha! uses ours) So, yes, it's doable! Or log an enhancement request, Anthro to include a new feature in the next release. Chances are you are using my company's apps!)

  12. October 23, 2009 / 2:14 am

    annie cat – I have only had an item in my cart sell out once, and it was such a bummer. I still scour ebay for the belt that was canceled out.Hazel – you had me LOL'ing! I wonder if it is a team or just one person coming up with the names…either way in my opinion they usually nail it. :)Kim – hahaha, maybe not to devoted followers but for the new folks discovering Anthro perhaps.Caro – I agree the creative staff is talented, and I have to say that at least here in NYC I've always had great customer service in the stores.Pakcola – every time I've done a store search the item has shipped for free. However according to an anonymous poster in this morning's thread if you call a store about an item that is in-stock online you will have to pay shipping. I am working to verify this…Anon @ 6:51, sorry if I was not clear, I meant that you should be able to search store availability online. Off the top of my head Ann Taylor, Macy's, and Target allow you to do this. Thank you ** Daily Lily **!!!FFM, what a pain, it's very nice of your local Anthro to make sure you get your full refund. I had not even noticed that, I will have to check next time I make a return.Anon @ 8:50, haha I can relate. I do email design as part of one of my jobs and every time I get a broken email it literally hurts me to look at it. I wish Anthro had a "report a bug" feature.PFP – awesome! Please let me know how it works out. =)

  13. October 23, 2009 / 4:56 am

    Heres a story for ya.. ive been waiting for my funneled folds cardigan since October 4th ( when i ordered it online) ..they canceled the order, i called them up.. they said sure no problem well locate it for you.. they did.. and had a store in Seattle send it to me ( mind you im in new york .. and i already tried it on 2 times in the Ny anthro stores..and couldve bought it two times over ).. i was waiting and waiting and waiting..finally i called and htey said to wait a little i waited.. i finally call up the 800 number and they tell me to call up the store that sent it to me.. they give me the number, i call the store.. to make this long story short, they dont have my order number, they never shipped it, they cant see that i paid for it ( i would've just asked for money back but i put it on a gift card ) so the girl on the phone was supposed to get back to me today and she never did.. so i still don't have my cardigan and i have no idea what is going on.. i really wish i paid cash for it.. then i couldve just bought it here in new york.. arrgh so aggravating!!!!

  14. October 23, 2009 / 5:08 am

    hi! i would love to see your future outfits in the behind the clouds dress! especially your winterized version…

  15. October 23, 2009 / 1:55 pm

    Stephanie, I will absolutely do a post for winterizing dresses, including the Behind the Clouds dress, in the near future. 🙂

  16. Anonymous
    October 23, 2009 / 1:59 pm

    Great post!But riddle me this: Say an item is sold out online, and you call customer service and they cannot locate it in any store. Do you have a chance of it showing up again? Should you keep trying? Because it seeems like things tend to 'secretly' pop back up on the site. How do they get there after all that time? Were they sitting in a store somewhere?

  17. October 23, 2009 / 2:08 pm

    Anon, there's a chance the item will pop up again. My guess is that they come back through returns, stores shipping unsold merch to the warehouse or found inventory. Keep trying! The site seems to update around 8 AM EST, M-F.

  18. ath
    October 23, 2009 / 2:47 pm

    yea, I agree, I wish I would be able to get a confirmation email with a tracking number after I have something charge sent from a store. It would definitely be easier than calling the store back for a tracking number.

  19. October 23, 2009 / 6:54 pm

    By the way, for anyone looking for the gray snakebite belt in a small, the Las Vegas store had 6 of them! Well, five now, as I just bought one and it's on its way to me.

  20. Anonymous
    October 23, 2009 / 10:15 pm

    Funny, I just happened to have stumbled upon a grey snakebit belt when returning somethin else yesterday. It was a medium and I snatched it up!

  21. R
    October 24, 2009 / 4:15 pm

    Hm, I just bought that dress on sale in my local store a couple weeks ago. Now that we have the same dress – and you kindly posted a photo of you in it – I think I can use your helpful sizing guide more accurately. =)

  22. October 26, 2009 / 7:18 pm

    OH! i just got my thousand day skirt from a store in Berkley, CA. tax was 7.61 for $78 skirt and no shipping 😛 ordered it last monday, shipped out tuesday and got it today 🙂 love it

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