The online access to clothing has enabled the emergence of many new business models within the fashion industry. We see subscription models that allow the customer to rent clothing for a fixed period (Rent The Runway) or a platform connecting stylists with customers to get personal styling advice (Keaton Row). At Stitch Fix, which is a US based firm, the website offers its customers the expertise of a stylist to buy new products. You are required to sign up, give some background information on yourself, on the style that you like, the type of items you are interested in and your size. After that the stylist will pick out a selection of products and the customer just has to wait for the package to land at the door.
Initially this business model was developed to serve the young professionals or executives who do not have the time to go shopping in store or online. But it appears that also people with less busy agendas are interested in the service as it allows you to have the help of a stylist when choosing pieces amidst the high number of available products (Drell, 2014).
The large variety of products available online has made it hard to choose which piece to buy.
At Stitch Fix the stylist will, based on your preferences and requests, show you the items she has picked. You can then give feedback and decide which items you want to try at home. Once you receive the package at home you can try and keep or send back the items you finally do not like (free of charge). You can personalize your demands according to your needs, your budget and the brands you love.
The styling advice costs $20 but as soon as you buy the pieces offered you do not have to pay it. This makes the barrier to use the service very low as the service provided ends up free of charge. You only pay the price of each piece that you decide to buy.
Based on what you buy the stylist can improve her recommendations and hence understand your preferences better every time you place an order. The platform also allows you to schedule the frequency of the package delivery, making it possible to systematically buy new products at the requested interval.
The advantages are the convenience of a stylist helping you to choose the best product, at whatever time, for the budget you want to spend and only paying for what you really like and keep.
In comparison with business models that allow you to rent clothing at a fraction of the purchase price this business offers you still the possibility to own the pieces and not having to return them afterwards. Renting pieces is attractive when you are looking for a piece for a special occasion, a one-time event. Whereas Stitch Fix allows you to buy products you love for every day without having to spend time searching webpages or clothing stores to find it.
The supplier side of the business also encounters many advantages. Stitch Fix can create very precise consumer profiles based on the purchases they have made and the feedback they have given the stylist. This gives the company valuable knowledge about why certain products work better than others. And this can be of use to the clothing industry to better serve the customer’s needs. Whether Stitch Fix works closely with producers is not known but it could be an option to expand its revenue stream.
Stitch Fix does not deliver its services outside of the US but if you are interested in trying it out, a European alternative exists developed by Zalando, and called Zalon.
Drell, L, 2014, 17 Unique Business Models Shaking Up the Marketplace. [ONLINE] Available at: http://mashable.com/2014/06/16/unique-business-models/#zZbyly5Qugqd. [Accessed 01 March 2017].