Trunk Club on Tuesday announced a new feature, Your Picks, that allows customers to add up to three items to their box orders from categories like socks, undergarments, basics and accessories.
Subscribers can peek at the 10 to 12 items their stylist selected before their box ships, and approve or reject the options, and it's at that "Trunk Preview" stage that they can add in their Your Picks items, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive. "If the item is sized, the sizing will align with the sizes on the customer's profile," Mike Markowski, Trunk Club vice president of product, told Retail Dive in an email.
In Nordstrom's most recent quarter, Trunk Club, which is part of the retailer's full-price operations, saw sales rise 35%, the company said in its earnings release last month. But the company's off-price Rack unit overshadowed its full-price performance.
Trunk Club was a troubled acquisition for Nordstrom in its early days. The retailer in 2016 took a $197 million write-down on the online concierge service, more than half of the $350 million Nordstrom paid to purchase it two years before. About two months later, Trunk Club founder Brian Spaly (who also co-founded Bonobos) left the CEO spot.
But in the years since, the styling service, which also runs six brick-and-mortar Trunk Club "clubhouses," has stabilized as a strong challenger to Stitch Fix. Last year, Stitch Fix similarly introduced add-ons of underwear, basics and accessories for its female customers.
"When choosing merchandise for Your Picks, we identified items that don't require a high level of fit consultation or style advice," Markowski said. "We plan to remain flexible with these categories based on customer feedback and seasonality. For example, we launched this with winter accessories available like scarves, mittens, and hats but will quickly adjust to include more spring and summer accessories like sunglasses."
While Trunk Club competes squarely with Stitch Fix, the service also represents a diversification of Nordstrom's selling options. The subscriber aspect could help lock in customers who see it as an extension of Nordstrom's customer service and value its wide apparel assortment.
Nordstrom is also relying on its human stylists more than algorithms to build the Trunk Club boxes and customer experience, Markowski said. "Data science is a powerful tool, and we believe in harnessing data to improve the human relationship between stylist and customer. But in a creative industry like personal-styling and fashion, over-reliance on data science can limit discovery and promote repeating recommendations," he said. "We believe that our stylists are experts and bring fashion authority and human ingenuity to every interaction with our customers, so any algorithms we use, work behind the scenes to support our customer-driven mission."
Last year, Trunk Club developed a cost-per-wear calculator, predicated on the notion that "the more you wear your clothing, the better the investment." It also more recently launched a campaign, Caring for Clothing, to help customers make their favorite apparel last longer.
"It feels like retail is a one long hunt to find the optimal channel of distribution," Instinet analyst Simeon Siegel told Retail Dive in an email when asked about Trunk Club. "And the issue is that is now ever changing. Grabbing the customer's mindshare is paramount, and retailers and brands are experimenting with how to best achieve that."