One argument against retail’s increasingly digitised nature, and the increasing number of brands starting out (and remaining) online, is that you can’t really replicate the ‘personal’ touch of an in-store experience over a screen. Here, we take a look at three companies that are tuning in closely to their customers, both online and offline, to offer them what they really want, through mediums like subscription services, ‘try before you buy’ offerings and real-world creative collaborations.
Rockets of Awesome: Taking the Stress out of Shopping for Childrenswear
“It’s 2017 — you can call a car or get groceries delivered to you with a click, so why isn’t shopping for kids the same?” Rockets of Awesome, an innovative childrenswear start-up, asks on its website. Founded by Rachel Blumenthal, Manhattan-based entrepreneur and mother-of-two, the company aims to alleviate busy parents’ stress levels by removing the difficult decision-making process when shopping for kids’ clothing. Rockets of Awesome sends out a personalised edit of 8-12 items every three months. The brand’s team takes note of the styling features of anything returned, meaning that it can build upon its existing knowledge of a customer’s preferences, thus better informing future deliveries. While this handpicked service might sound expensive, it’s not too overwhelming; no item exceeds $40, shipping is free, you only pay for what you keep, and parents are under no obligation to stick with the service if it doesn’t work, as a membership isn’t required.
Rent the Runway:
With so much choice out there, it’s understandable why busy shoppers are turning to subscription services in order to refresh their wardrobes. Rent the Runway has long allowed women to borrow designer clothes rather than make the committment to buy them, but in March 2016 the company followed in other brands’ footsteps and launched its own subscription programme. Rent the Runway’s Unlimited service, at $139 per month, allows customers to borrow three luxury items per month. Unlike other popular clothing subscription box services like Stitch Fix (which operates as a virtual personal stylist and chooses clothes for its customers), Rent the Runway puts the power into the subscribers’ hands and lets them do all the choosing, though complimentary personal styling appointments are also made available to members. Although Unlimited is technically subscription service, there’s no minimum term; you’re able to pay per month and drop out at any time. On top of this, the company has recently begun to make a move into the bricks-and-mortar market, with several stores opened in the US, including a Neiman Marcus concession in San Francisco. In-store, customers will find RTR Bars, where they can seek advice from sales associates in a relaxed setting. Associates come armed with profiles of their shoppers, thanks in part to information pulled from the Rent the Runway app. While collecting customer data online is one thing, doing it on the shop floor gives the company a further opportunity to understand who its customers are and how they tick, further personalising the Rent the Runway experience.
Equinox: Adding a Creative Spin to Fitness Classes
The popularity of fitness and wellness is on a high, though it’s difficult to predict where the market will move to next. With 25 years’ experience under its belt, fitness company Equinox helped to conceive the trend for upscale gyms, and has given an indication of where the exercise business might be moving through its intentions to open its first hotel in New York. But that’s not all, as Equinox launched another offshoot of its hugely popular fitness brand earlier this year, a ‘creative space for fitness rebels’ called Project, based in Manhattan. Unlike Equinox’s other gyms, Project allows non-members to come and join the fast-paced fun, guided by some of the city’s top trainers, as per Equinox’s reputation for employing the experts. The key focus of Project, though, is to allow trainers to experiment and have the ability to switch things up – something they might not be able to do in more structured fitness environments. At Project, both attendees and instructors are able to tailor their workout time to suit their needs. ‘In our industry, we didn’t feel like there was a true creative space,’ Equinox’s senior director of business development, Chloe Heckman, explained to Well and Good. ‘We wanted to empower the brightest people in fitness with resources they’ve never had before.’
Rachel Blumenthal, Founder of Rockets of Awesome and Carla Dunham, VP Marketing at Equinox will join us to discuss 'Re-personalizing Retail', at the Decoded Fashion New York Summit (November 1-2). Book your ticket here.
P.S. The super early bird offer ends July 28 - book now to save up to $200!
Image Source: The Business Journals