Multichannel shopping reshapes how consumers think about clothing

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2015/09/09/multichannel-shopping-reshapes-how-consumers-think-about-clothing/

When a customer walks into Best Dressed in Charlestown, Boston, Nikoleta Lirantonakis, the owner and style curator, promptly springs into action, combing through the racks to find the perfect dress. But this isn’t just another fashion store, but a clothes rental with a fancy touch.

The idea to open the store came to Nikoleta and her sister Vicky when their friend rented a dress online. Once the dress arrived, it didn’t fit and, with no time to find something else, she suffered through an entire wedding wearing an ill suited rental.

Two stores in Boston, Best Dressed and Indochino, (a custom suit store for men), were formed in response to a growing niche market – customers who want well fitted fashion that fits without the price tag and without the complications of online shopping.

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While the market for online shopping continues to grow, consumers are reshaping the way they purchase clothing through multiple channels. Retailers, however, are often lagging behind. According to a PricewaterhouseCooper study, “Understanding how U.S. online shoppers are reshaping the retail experience,” 72 percent of U.S. consumers consider themselves accomplished online shoppers, with 71 percent of U.S. respondents saying that they purchase clothing and footwear online. But many online retailers are making it difficult to return clothing that doesn’t quite fit.

“I wanted to give the option to try the clothes on and have them feel great at every event they go to,” said Nikoleta.

The sisters, Nikoleta, the style expert, and Vicky, the business whiz, opened the store in March. According to Nikoleta, so far the biggest challenge has been finding clothes that include all the different body types, making sure that they have a wide selection for everyone.

“With renting, girls are taking more of a risk because they don’t think that they have to wear it four times because they bought it,” said Nikoleta in regards to women taking more of a risk with fashion choices. “They are not committed to something.” Renting allows girls to try clothes on beforehand and feel that they are looking picture perfect, in person or on social media.

“Renting is a destination sort of thing,” said Nikoleta. “There’s no place like it in Boston.”

Across town, on Newbury Street in Back Bay, Boston, Indochino opened its doors in late July. From 2011 to 2014, Indochino opened about 30 pop-up stores in major cities across the U.S. and Canada, enjoying much success. Now, they have seven permanent showrooms with plans to open more brick and mortar stores around the country, allowing customers to shop both online and in-store for a customer focused, multi-channelled shopping experience.

Kyle Vucko the CEO of Indochino believes that opening brick and mortar stores was the right thing to do for their target customers to easily shop both online and in stores. Kyle said, “You really need to create company structures that are all aligned across much more complex landscapes.”

Since Indochino already had online customers, identifying a good place to open a store was easy, because client demographics could be pin pointed.

“When we open a showroom we usually don’t see customers just moving from this channel to this channel,” said Dean Handspiker the director of retail sales and marketing, and a store designer for Indochino. “What we see, generally speaking, is business generating within that market, so this is motivation for us to get these showrooms open as soon as possible.”

Dean believes that having only one channel is not enough. He has found customers purchase a suit online and then bring it into a store to get it fitted just right.

Regarding opening his shop in Boston Dean said, “It makes me happy every time I come to the store because we love our adjacent stores, we love our neighbors, and we love the street.”

Best Dressed:
All dresses are for rent. Most of the jewelry is for sale but you can rent a select collection. Clothes are dry cleaned for you. You can find Best Dressed at 197 8th St #750, Boston, MA 02129

Indochino:
Custom-made suits range from $400 to $1,000. They also cater to wedding parties. Their store is located at 85 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02116

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