Fashion loves coining terms and despite the contrary, they’re quite self-explanatory for everyone outside of the ‘fashion-in-the-know’ bubble. There was ‘ready-to-wear’, ‘see-now-buy-now’, ‘ready-to-buy’ and now Yoox-Net-a-Porter (YNAP) has developed another neology to add to your ever-expanding fashion vocabulary; “try-and-wait”. This new offering is being rolled out with YNAP‘s new personal shopping service, a 2-in-1 ‘double kill’ combo.
With the battle of the e-commerce giants going head-to-head and more players vying for a piece of the territory – see Farfetch and Style.com’s resurrection and LVMH’s soon-to-be launched e-commerce site 24 Sevres – it takes more than conventional tactics to win this war.
Personal shopping is nothing new in the world of fashion. Major department stores feature this service; brands from the luxury to the high-street sector have in-house personal shoppers and mobile apps have rolled out on-the-go, at-the-touch-of-a-button online stylists. Between 2011 and 2013, the rise of online stylists burgeoned onto the scene, it was the UBER of the time and reflected technology’s influence in shopping habits. It was a solution to reach an even wider market. Tapping consumers who have high spend but aren’t well-versed in fashion trends, apps like PS Dept, Affinity, and Stitch Fix were able to fill this market gap.
These early pioneers had set the ball in motion. Other platforms began to adopt this revolutionary service, a new way to enhance customer experience and bring it in-house for a more profitable business model. At Matchesfashion.com, the website boasts a ‘24 hours a day, seven days a week’ styling and shopping advice service dubbed MyStylist. A team dedicated to product, styling and fashion advice for their clientele, a group of ‘on hand fashion insiders’. Moda Operandi is also connecting stylists to their shoppers. By filling in a simple online form outlining your styling needs, the Moda Operandi team will sift through their large product offerings for a carefree shopping experience, a pared down, quick and easy approach to browsing. Offering specialty services for their VIP clientele, these additional features include ‘one-of-a-kind sourcing’ and ‘hands-free travel’ – clothes at the ready, and on the go.
Patience, a virtue that seems to be marginally reserved for shopping in brick and mortar stores, has drove drones of shoppers onto the e-commerce playing field. Online sales have surged and according to Business of Fashion, “e-commerce luxury fashion sales will increase fourfold from 2010 to 2020”(1). But despite the shift in consumer preferences, e-commerce isn’t without its flaws. The solution for addressing fitting issues has been long dissented. E-commerce players and companies have pushed out different methods to address it including extensive sizing charts, 360-degree view of the product, virtual fitting room software – which has yet to be implemented across large e-commerce sites – and videos depicting the product on a live model.
Facing these fitting issues, wavering brand loyalty and the need to out maneuver their competition, YNAP has announced a new offering into their omnichannel retail strategy, an ‘enhanced personal shopping services for top customers’. Reiterating their ‘luxury’ branding, this premier service is reserved solely for YNAP’s EIP or Extremely Important People. For those who don’t fit into this top 3% margin, returns will unfortunately have to be made the hard way and that means making self-returns at the post office.
Launching in three of the largest fashion markets, London, New York and Hong Kong in September, ‘you try, we wait’ will hopefully increase YNAP‘s EIP spending, a group that makes up only 2% of the e-commerce giants active customers, yet according to Focus, “accounts for a whopping 40% of net revenues in their In-Season segment”(2). So how does the service actually work? Is it simply paying a deliveryman to wait outside the homes of these Extremely Important People? Essentially it is just that, but it doesn’t stop there. Simultaneously YNAP will launch ‘Net-A-Porter at Home’ and ‘Mr Porter at Home’, a self-explanatory term at best, essentially bringing a curated selection of YNAP products to your home after consulting with an expert personal shopper.
“Through our network of Personal Shoppers, we are thrilled to be offering these new best-in-class services to our most engaged and loyal customers around the world. We are committed to harnessing innovation to elevate the shopping experience, and ultimately seek to use a personalised touch to make the lives of our customers easier,” said Alison Loehnis, President, Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter(3).
It remains yet to be seen how this new ‘try-and-wait’ service will play out for the luxury e-commerce giant but if YNAP is known for anything, they aren’t afraid to roll out the big guns – having recently integrated inventory of Valentino’s stocks. Will this be the simple solution to fitting issues? We will wait patiently while YNAP tries it on for size.
(1) 2016.’The State of Fashion 2017’.The Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company
(2) Mayer, C . and Clark, T. 2017. ‘Luxury E-Tailer Makes a Sale Every Four Seconds…And It’s Just Getting Started’. Chris Mayer’s Focus
(3) Wightman-Stone, D. April 6 2017. ‘Net-a-Porter Enhances Personal Shopping For Top Customers’. Fashion United