Online second-hand clothing startup ThredUp on Tuesday launched a "try before you buy" curated service dubbed "Goody Boxes," according to an email to Retail Dive.
After answering a few questions and paying a $20 fee (applicable toward a purchase), shoppers receive a box with 10-20 items chosen by the company’s "treasure hunters," according to ThredUp’s website. The company’s machine learning algorithms interpret each shopper’s style quiz results, which include responses indicating what trends, styles and brands they like, and human stylists look the box over for a final "seal of approval."
The service isn’t a subscription, the company said, but it does have many of the same characteristics as popular services like Stitch Fix and Trunk Club, which also offer a style quiz and ship surprise boxes of apparel free of charge.
As a second-hand apparel retailer with a limited number of the same garment, ThredUp is constrained in its ability to develop a subscription service. But many of the subscription services touted by retailers these days aren’t really subscriptions in the traditional sense anyway, with loose rules about how often shoppers receive their boxes. They follow more of a membership model with plenty of opportunities to adjust, cancel or time the arrival and content of the deliveries.
The model nevertheless promises to give the retailer a steady stream of orders. Much like Stitch Fix, subscribers fill out a questionnaire to help stylists choose items, but also involve human beings, something that has resonated with the consumers turning to them.
J.C. Penney, Gap and Under Armour are among the apparel retailers launching box services in recent weeks, joining Amazon Prime Wardrobe, Nordstrom’s Trunk Club, Rent the Runway and others in the space.
Like ThredUp’s new service, Amazon Prime Wardrobe an effort to ease the process of "try before you buy" and reduce returns, for good reason. According to a recent study from Narvar, the bedroom is the new fitting room: 40% of shoppers "bracket" their purchases, meaning they buy multiple items with the intent to return some of them. This isn’t surprising considering the problem of fit, which is one major reason many shoppers still go to the store to touch, feel and try on apparel (among other items) before buying.
ThredUp may have an advantage in its effort, considering that its apparel is already second-hand, so returns don't downgrade the newness of returned merchandise. But ultimately the solution for the problem of apparel e-commerce may be found in opening an old-fashioned apparel brick-and-mortar store, suggests Paula Rosenblum, RSR Research co-founder and managing partner.
"One thing to understand is that all direct to consumer apparel retailers have high return rates. It comes with the territory. And when the product comes back there are logistical issues relative to whether it’s instantly re-saleable or not," Rosenblum told Retail Dive in an email earlier this year. "I don’t really think it’s a viable and scalable long term solution, but it solves a short-term problem. My opinion is that the ultimate solution is for Amazon to buy apparel stores."