Co-creation at the apparel company Modcloth can be the future for all apparel companies. They incorporated “Be the Buyer”. Customers can be a virtual member of their Fashion Buying Team by telling them which designs they love. Modcloth will show several designs and the customers can vote for their favourite design. When a style gets enough votes, the design will be sewn and sold by Modcloth. If the item is produced the customer will get an e-mail telling this, so they can be first to buy it and wear it.
For a small company like Modcloth, this approach can be the key for success. They can be absolutely sure that the design the customers choose will do well in the market. This way they do not have to make big inventory commitments without knowing if the customers will love the design and buy that piece of clothes.
They recently introduced Sneak Peek. With Sneak Peak they involve customers by asking them to let the company know what you want to wear next season out of clothes that are going to by sold by Modcloth. Modcloth can decide how much to produce and how much they will need to have in stock. So this also reduces inventory costs, and the products are better fitted for the customer needs. It is safe to say that they can better forecast supply and demand for specific items than other regular companies.
But they are taking co-creation to an even higher level with its “Make the Cut”. With this program users can sent in their sketches, and people will vote via Be the Buyer. The best sketch will be produced and sold. The winner will receive the winning piece, along with $500.
So will this be the future of the fashion industry? I think, for smaller, online, fashion stores it is. They can be sure that their clothes are appreciated by a large customer group, and already have potential buyers. The latter, in combination with the fact that inventory costs will be reduced as much as possible is the key to success in this business. The value of co-creation at this company is enormous and this will only grow. So I suggest other online apparel companies will look further into co-creation and use this business model as well. The most beautiful part is that your customers will select the clothes they like the most and that it will most likely reduces cost and gains revenue.
A small note here is that this co-creation system of Modcloth is not the large part of the company, the company itself does most of the buying process. However, it is important for any company to engage customers and I think co-creation and decision making by customers is the best way to do this.