It’s only recently that upstart celebrity-backed companies like @ShoeDazzle, @ShoeMint and JustFabulous have started pouring money into advertising and winning thousands of subscribers. Unlike @BagBorroworSteal or @RenttheRunway (who have been quietly carving their own niche in a crowded fashion market for years), these companies don’t require you to go down the cumbersome task of returning your wares. Instead, you pay a monthly fee and their algorithms, buyers, designers, and partners shop for your next ownable item.
It reminds me of the wine of the month club the parents belonged to, or the music club my brother joined for a while — even the jewelry club I joined briefly… I wound up with about three boxes full of hoops and bangles and tacky odes to the 80’s.
Whether it’s the future of fashion or a flashback to 1970s business models, shopping by membership should get the attention of retailers (and the US Postal Service).
This LA Times article points to a widely-held belief: "We are in the midst of a reinvention of retail," said Kasey Lobaugh, a principal at Deloitte Consulting who follows online shopping trends. "Retailers are being forced to innovate the business model. If they don’t, there is now a long list of nontraditional competitors who will."
The Times piece goes on to assert, The member-only programs have quickly attracted hordes of loyal shoppers. The sites, subscribers say, are easy to use, are customer-friendly when it comes to returns and exchanges, and usually do a good job identifying what styles they like.”
It was around this time last year that I was chatting with the head of product at one of these companies about how they were planning to scale in the months ahead and what they needed to do, purely from a social media standpoint. It was during that conversation that I realized their success model hinged not just on the obvious overhead-swerving cost-savings they have over the brick and mortar stores, but largely the up they have from a CRM standpoint — and that’s the part that gets really interesting.
Definitely a sector to watch this year, as incomes remain steady and shopper marketing hasn’t yet made significant inroads into malls and department stores, in terms of rethinking shopper engagement in compelling enough ways to rival what’s happening online.