The digital ‘suit’ revolution?
When BHS, the long-standing British department store, announced that it was on the brink of bankruptcy, the news took many by surprise. But what was more astounding for me was to find out that Austin Reed, a quintessentially British menswear label had recently realised the same fate. As Financial Times says, Austin Reed has allegedly failed in re-inventing itself in the face of ‘fiercely competitive market’. “Austin Reed has quite an old customer base and hasn’t really succeeded in reinventing itself to attract younger shoppers,” told independent analyst Richard Hyman to the paper. With other more affordable retailers such as Marks and Spencer and Moss Bros out there, the brand – once famously served Winston Churchill and The Beatles – is losing its momentum to connect with the young, tech-savvy generation of consumers.
Meanwhile, the ‘suit revolution’ has quietly been disrupting the traditional bricks and mortar stores, particularly those who have inherently relied on a high-end image. As the young male shoppers are turning to eCommerce for a quick and efficient solution to shop, online stores for custom tailored suits seem to fit right into their needs.
How is it disrupting the traditional custom-made suit stores?
Well, affordability might sound like the dominant reason for the rise of online bespoke suit shops. But we all know that low price point alone won’t satisfy the desires of the millennial shoppers who prioritise efficiency, personalisation and experience at the same time.
- Easy measurement
As much as convenience and speed is vital for picking garments, the same can be said for measurement. While Indochino delivers a tape measure for their US customers for free, others such as Tailor4less provide step-by-step instruction videos to make sure the measurement is done correctly. Their system also gives an estimate based on the customer’s height, body weight, body shape and so on. Otherwise, many other innovative startups send outfitters to homes and offices for those who want to cut the hassles.
- Free shipping
While free shipping is becoming more commonly available, very few sites offer free GLOBAL shipping. Unlike physical stores, the top benefit of eCommerce businesses is that they are not confined to borders and locations, allowing potential customers all around the world. Startups like Indochino is committed to improving their delivery service to customers worldwide. Currently it offers free global shipping on orders over $150 within 4 weeks via FedEx.
- Exceptional customer service
Having excellent customer service is essential for any successful eCommerce business to keep customers happy and come back again. When it comes to menswear eCommerce like tailored suits, customer support should be available via multiple contact channels. Needless to say that terms and conditions should be succinct and easy to find, brands should also listen to what their customers say on social media platforms. Indochino, for example, makes it crystal clear on its website that they’d offer alteration credits if needed, while any inquiries would be answered within 2 days.
Look and feel still matters.
Nevertheless, the millennials still want to get touchy and feely with brands. Yes, that need for first-hand experience is a consistently stubborn human nature. And frankly we can’t get rid of it. So having a physical store still matter, though to a lesser extent. As far as personalised experience is concerned, menswear startups such as Indochino and Edit Suits Co. have a handful of showrooms to get measurements taken or find the latest garment or even for a friendly consultation. The buyer’s journey online and offline has become increasingly intertwined. Whilst their eCommerce encourages more people to visit their showrooms for more personalised experience, their showrooms also remind busy customers of hassle-free online services as they can finish their purchase process anytime and anywhere they want.
The bottom line is that convenience and personalisation can only be made possible by both online and offline. And it is the delicate balance that menswear brands have to strike to stand out from the market.
What do you think?
Appnova is a digital agency specialising in web design, UX, e-commerce, branding, digital marketing and social media.
(Cover image via Vintage Everyday)