There is much chatter regarding technologies disrupting retail today. To me, a “disruptor” is a platform by which our lives are made easier and better. I always have my eye on the actual product and the in-store experience (which may or may not be enhanced by technological innovations.) The IoT will never replace the actual experience of being in a beautifully turned-out store, where we can touch, feel, smell and embrace our potential purchases. This Blog presents our view of the top retailers disrupting today. They include Stitch Fix, M.M. LaFleur, ModCloth, Rothy’s and Bespoke. All five of these have a big digital presence and four of them have a physical location.
Stitch Fix is an online fashion retailer whose concept came from the produce delivery business. Its founder understood that ordering a box of produce and paying only for what you like or decide to use could be applied to fashion. Stitch Fix is a personal styling, time saver, where complete outfits, including accessories are sent to the user on a fixed time schedule. The client can select what they want to keep and send the rest back.
The business model earns revenue from a $20 initial investment of a “styling fee”, which is applied to the purchase; and the mark-up on clothes, shoes and accessories purchased through the site. An average purchase includes five items estimated at a minimum total cost of $275, and the client receives a 25% discount for buying the entire outfit. The client is given three days to review the items and send them back in prepaid packing. The company did an IPO in 2017 and now has a current market cap value of $2.4 billion.
Since the sincerest form of flattery is imitation, a new retailer has entered the styling/box space, but with a new twist. M.M. Lafleur provides a stylist for business and “creative casual” with a more expensive offering than its doppelganger. Average price for a top is $110, and a dress about $250. The site is geared toward business women. The New York brand opened its first store in San Francisco on Grant Ave in 2018 and allows customers to select any item from their website for purchase individually. Other new stores are open or will be opening soon in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
ModCloth caters to Millennial women of all sizes and opened a store within their corporate building on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. The fashion retailer was sold to Jet in 2017 for about $50 million. Jet is a Walmart owned, Amazon-like online retailer with free shipping for purchases over $35. The fashion brand bills itself as a “quirky, trendy and vintage apparel site that caters to Millennials”. A quick look at the offerings indicates a very affordable product, including a wedding dress for $120!
Rothy’s is an interesting retailer that offers shoes made of totally recycled materials and 3D-knit. The 600 square foot store on Fillmore Street in San Francisco was opened to conduct consumer research before offering a specific product to ecommerce worldwide. The space is covered by their recycled materials, and the walls are entirely magnetic.
Bespoke is a co-working space which debuted at Westfield San Francisco Center on the ground floor. Approximately 80 companies work in the space, including retail-tech startups, venture capitalists and innovating teams from large brands. According to an article, “When Bespoke launched in Westfield San Francisco Centre on May 28, 2015, it was a first-of-its-kind ecosystem combining three components. While the individual components of Bespoke were tried and true (spaces for co-working, demos and events), never before had all three of these components been built to act in harmony, and never before had this type of an environment existed inside a shopping center. While the partners responsible for the launch of Bespoke – Westfield San Francisco Centre, Westfield Labs, Westfield Corporation and partner Forest City – all had great expectations for the success of the space, which is still attracting attention two years later”.
Finally, a word about the long term. Westfield’s Destination 2028 includes a vision of a retail environment with “hanging sensory gardens, artificial intelligence infused walkways in an environment designed to cater to every need of new generation shoppers”. This concept focuses on the growing importance customers place on experience, leisure, wellness and community.
This is all good news for us consumers, don’t you think? Let us know your views on retail and the future by leaving your comments here.