Fashion start-ups, social commerce and crowdsourcing

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I have been following ModCloths progress since they first launched, here is a great article by a USA based blog with an interview with the Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder, Susan Gregg Koger …Enjoy

Fashion start-ups, social commerce and crowdsourcing – the three things that all San Francisco fashion dot coms have in common. Modcloth, an independent fashion retail site with the ninja like crowdsourcing skills is doing something cool.

ModCloth has enabled their loyal community of shoppers to pre-order select items from designer BB Dakota’s holiday line. From coats to skirts and dresses, shoppers be able to reserve their fashion future. Where does crowdsourcing come in? Similar to Kaboodle’s PopPicks and Moxsie First, the BB Dakota pre-order allows ModCloth to get an early estimate of demand for the designs by evaluating the pre-orders, and responding by upping the inventory of the merchandise their community wants most.

With so many sites testing the viability and potential sell through of items that  their buyers orders, we felt an explanation of a pre-order sale was in line.

“When pre-ordering an item, customers are essentially buying the product in advance of its being in stock, with the added benefit of being the first to get their hands on these much-lauded looks”, says Alicia Barnes, PR Manager for Modcloth, “ModCloth will place a hold on the participating customers’ credit cards, and the moment the item becomes available, it will be shipped. If the piece sells out in pre-order, users can still “Be the First to Know” when it comes in stock by signing up for notification.”

The first launch, of 15 items, went live on ModCloth’s website Sept. 7, 2010 and new items will continue to become available until mid-October.

“Fashion democratization is one of our key missions at ModCloth,” says Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder, Susan Gregg Koger. “By allowing our customers to pre-order designs, we’re asking them to be trend forecasters and they’re actually influencing our purchasing decisions.” This new pre-order feature is just one aspect of ModCloth’s commitment to seeking input from their community.

Much like Lululemon, ModCloth has always valued their community, responding to customers in through every social medium available. They’ve built impressive programs like Be the Buyer and Name It and Win It to better meet their customers needs.  For those of you who don’t know, Be the Buyer encourages customers to vote on their favorite looks, the designs with the most votes ultimately being produced and sold on the site. Name It and Win It creatively involves customers in getting to know a product by challenging them to name it. The winning name appears on the site and the winner gets the item.

From all digital standpoints, ModCloth is a leader in marketing independent fashion through technology. So what gives them the edge, we talked to ModCloth founder and CEO Susan Gregg Koger.

FMM: Modcloth was one of the first online fashion e-commerce site to use crowdsourcing as marketing strategy to engage shoppers, it set the stand for crowdsourcing, which has now became mainstream fashion marketing tactic.. How will Modcloth continue to evolve the crowdsourcing as a marketing strategy?

Susan: We believe that the customer should be involved at every step of their shopping experience. We are going to continue to add features to continue their involvement. Our next feature is going to be based on social shopping, we’re going to provide the Modcloth community with features that allow them to help each other shop.

One thing that’s unique about Modcloth is that you can come to the site and not have to buy anything, you can just participate and interact with the community. [Much like Chictopia and] we’re about the social interaction of trendsetting, stylish shoppers who want to establish their expertise and show what influences their tastes.

FMM: Modcloth’s preordering features help retailers predict what will sell through and provides fashion designers with valuable information on what styles and patterns resonate with their customers. This influences the way retailers buy and fashion designers design collections; will/when will preordering become mainstream?

Susan: Preordering and product forecasting on social feedback will become mainstream. It’s a practice that allows retailers and buyers to be more on the pulse of the product sales cycle. And yes, it will accelerate that product sales cycle. We’re moving towards retail business models that are predominately community driven. What we’re seeing now is real-time evolution, the way consumers shopped last quarter isn’t the way they shop now; we’re moving towards real-time relevancy.

Here’s to real time relevance through one-one-one conversations: Modcloth is one more company that leveraging social media and customer engagement to move social commerce, customer experiences and service forward. Keep it coming Modcloth!

Warren Knight thanks Macala Wright


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