The times, they are a changin’. This applies to almost everything in our lives, but certainly to online clothing retail. Here at Sonlet, we’ve been following and tracking the trends in online clothing retail… primarily so we can stay informed and make sure we’re getting you all the features that you need to be successful. Change inevitably brings ups and downs. To quote one of my all-time favorite authors in an entirely different context, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” For some retailers, things are really looking up: their businesses are growing faster than ever, and they are excited for the future. For other retailers, things aren’t looking so hot. The more research we’ve done, the more we’ve realized how important it is for us to share this knowledge with you so you can better plan for your business. Here’s what you need to know about the latest changes in online clothing retail from Nordstrom, Amazon, Stitch Fix, and our very own Sonlet Shops!
Okay, so I know what you’re thinking, Why is he including Nordstrom in an article about online clothing retailers?
The answer: Nordstrom Local. If you’ve not heard about Nordstrom Local, you can read more about it here
. Nordstrom is expanding by opening up smaller retail locations of only about 2,000 square feet (down from their typical 16,000 square foot mall-type locations). Unlike a traditional Nordstrom where customers show up, get fitted, and then leave with their new purchases in nice pretty bags, Nordstrom Local has stylists, limited inventory for trying things on and taking measurements. Once shopping decisions are made, items are ordered online and shipped directly to the customers home. Alternatively, customers can shop online and have items shipped to the local store where their purchases can be fit and tailored. Nordstrom Local offers everything people love about Nordstrom (great customer service and quality) without the overhead of having a big storefront. Many retailers modeling their customer service on Nordstrom are on the right track: shoppers feel confident buying from retailers who back their product. In other words, Nordstrom is now modeling their business on you! The small shop, great service business model has been validated by one of the most reputable retailers in fashion.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Stitch Fix, it’s a subscription box for stylized clothing à la Dollar Shave Club model. Customers pay a monthly fee of $20 to have a stylist curated box of clothing shipped directly to their home. They try on the stuff in the box at home and everything the customer likes they keep (and pay for). Anything they aren’t in love with is put back in the box and shipped back. You check out all the specifics of their program here
. Stitch Fix has been expanding quickly, spending quite a bit on advertising, and they are profitable even though their margins aren’t very high. Their customers like the convenience of not having to stay on top of the latest trends and are willing to pay the modest monthly subscription price to save time or curb retail therapy habits. Many small boutique owners are excellent personal stylists for their customers; they take notes about customers’ size and clothing style preferences in order to deliver options for wardrobe expansion. Be proactive when you find something that matches your customers’ preferences, and customers will wonder why they’d ever need the service.
Amazon Prime Wardrobe
Amazon has entered online clothing retail. Amazon ships up to 8 items to customers with a prime membership for free. Then they have seven days to try on the clothes and either keep (and pay for it) or ship it back. Read the specifics here
. The absolute worst nightmare for every traditional clothing retailer out there, right? You might be thinking, “Is there good news for all of us small clothing boutiques that primarily sell online?” The answer: Absolutely! Remember how Starbucks was seen as a bad guy in the coffee business? Thanks to Starbucks, more and more independent coffee shops open and thrive because of the increased popularity in buying coffee on the go. (Don’t believe me? Check this article
to read about one local coffee shops experience when Starbucks opened and this article
where Starbucks sites the independent coffee shops as their biggest competition.) Amazon is going to make more people a lot more comfortable buying their clothing online, which means that there will be even more customers for all of us small boutique owners too.
For most of our readers, this article is likely the first that you’re hearing about Sonlet Shops.The waitlist
was just launched a few weeks ago on the Sonlet App Store
. Sonlet Shops provides small independent boutique owners the opportunity to open an online boutique that makes a traditional margin (30%-35% profit) without housing inventory or dealing with shipping. The clothes are stylish and come from the same suppliers as Nordstrom, Forever 21, and Macy’s uses. With all the tech and social integrations available from Sonlet.com, Sonlet Shops is the perfect side hustle for small independent boutique owners that want to scale back the time commitment or limit the financial risk associated with carrying inventory in your home. Although Sonlet Shops is a relatively new entrant to the market, with more than 75,000 sellers and 3M shoppers that have used the site, we plan to make a big impact and become the easiest and lowest risk way for independent fashionistas nationwide to find and sell the latest styles.