Rent the Runway – How to Look Like a Million Bucks without Spending It

by rice1 0 Comments

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Have you ever had to purchase an expensive, formal dress, only to wear it once, then banish it to the back of your closet for the rest of its life?

Or maybe you’re sneaky – you buy the dress, wear it to your event, and then return it to the store. (While not exactly ethical, a lot of women do this – 14% of women in 2013 admitted to wearing something once then returning it.

But did you know that there’s a better way?

You truly can look like a million bucks without over spending.

Introducing Rent the Runway – a store and ecommerce site where you can rent designer fashions at a discount.

Curious how it works? Keep reading to find out!

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It all started in 2008 when two Harvard MBA students – Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss – came up with a brilliant idea. After seeing one of their sisters spend thousands of dollars on a dress for a wedding – a dress that would only be worn once – they thought to themselves, “There must be a better way!”

And that’s how the two Jennifers came up with the idea for Rent the Runway – a company that allows women to rent designer dresses for a specific event at a fraction of what it would cost to actually purchase the dress.

And when you’re only wearing the dress once anyways, doesn’t it make sense to rent and save all that money?

The concept of ‘value over ownership’ was what made Netflix and Spotify popular, so Hyman and Fleiss decided to bring the same idea to the fashion world. Without ever even creating a business plan, they pitched their idea to investors and designers. It was an instant success, and Rent the Runway officially launched in November of 2009.

Through Rent the Runway, consumers have access to over 50,000 dresses and 10,000 accessories – all from over 200 different designers. In 2013, the company expanded into a physical store, and currently has storefronts in Las Vegas, Washington, Chicago and New York, with over 4 million members and counting.

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From beginning to end, the process behind Rent the Runway is quick and easy, allowing you to choose the perfect dress for your event in no time at all!

  1. First, filter dresses by color, length and trend to narrow down your options.
  2. Decide which dress you want to rent, pick out your accessories (if you want) and then place your order! (They also sell things like tights, lingerie and shape wear in case you need these items to go along with your dress – you can get everything you need, all in one place.)
  3. Rent the Runway will send you two sizes, just to guarantee you a perfect fit (this is included free of charge).
  4. Before the dress is sent to you, it is first steamed, pressed and then sealed in a plastic bag, so when it arrives on your doorstep, it will be ready to wear!
  5. Once you receive the dress, you’ll have it for either a 4 or 8 day time period. Each order comes with a prepaid, pre-addressed package that makes returns a breeze. To protect against accidents, a $5 insurance and dry cleaning fee are included with the rental.

Pretty straightforward and simple right? And the fun doesn’t stop with the process…

When browsing the website, you’ll probably notice the little heart icons next to each dress. When you click on the heart, that item will be saved to your favorites so you can go back and view it later.

And if you want to compare outfits or sort them into categories based on occasion, you can do that too.

You can even earn money towards your rental by telling your friends. When a rental is returned by someone you’ve referred to the website, you’ll receive a $20 credit towards your next purchase.

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Buying clothes online can definitely be a nerve wracking experience. What if the dress doesn’t fit quite right? Will you just be stuck with it?

Rent the Runway takes fear out of the equation by doing everything they can to make sure you love your dress, including giving you:

  • A backup size free of charge.
  • The option to add another dress for a small additional fee.
  • Access to an excellent customer service desk that will help you in case your dress doesn’t fit and take care of exchanging your dress in time for your event. (If you live in Las Vegas or New York, they will even send you a new dress via Uber in less than an hour!)

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Here are some of the reasons Rent the Runway is unique:

  • They have their knowledge of dresses down to a science, plus an analytics team that looks into all the details. Color, fabrics, long vs. short, which designs get returned, which designers are popular, what is hot or not, specific trends for the season – everything is analyzed.
  • They feature a lot of young, up-and-coming designers, providing a solid range of hip designs for all ages.
  • They recently launched their subscription service – for $99 a month, customers have unlimited access to all accessories and clothing.
  • They partner with designers (rather than buying dresses retail) which keeps the prices really low and increases the range of their size inventory.

With such a unique process, simple concept, and generally positive reviews, Rent the Runway seems to be a slam dunk in the fashion world.

And the proof they say is indeed in the pudding.  All you have to do is look at Rent the Runway’s amazing results to know they are onto something big.  After just a few years in business, the company is valued somewhere between $400 million and $600 million, and has raised $116 million in funding.

So…do you have an event coming up?

Try something new!

Save space in your closet and consider looking drop dead gorgeous in a rental desk from Rent A Runway. b

 

The Disneyland of Dairy

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1Stew Leonard’s.

It’s been called “The Disneyland of Dairy Stores” by the New York Times.

But what really makes the company tick?

Why do so many people across the country love this one-of-a-kind grocery store, and why do they keep coming back time and time again?

The answer might be different from what you expect.

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Founder Stew Leonard Sr. had a vision – to sell freshly bottled milk along with other farm-related products in a fun, farm-themed retail environment.

Stew Leonard’s began in 1969 as a small dairy store with only seven employees, and has grown through the years to become the World’s Largest Dairy Store with nearly 2,000 employees and $400 million in annual sales.

But the vision for the company really began in the early 1920’s with Stew’s father Charles Leo Leonard’s dairy farm in Norwalk, Connecticut – Clover Farms Dairy.

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In the late 1960’s Stew began to realize that, with the decline of the milk delivery business, the farm would need to go in a new direction in order to survive. So in December 1969, Stew opened the first Stew Leonard’s grocery store.

The rest is history.

Truly a unique grocery store concept, Stew Leonard’s is more than just your typical retailer. In addition to their farm-fresh products, the company sets itself apart with its company’s consistent and spectacular customer service.

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As founder Stew Leonard said, “If you wouldn’t take it home to your mother, don’t put it in front of your customers.”

And no one sets the bar higher than Stew Leonard’s; they are committed to providing the best possible products and the best possible customer service.

In order to do this, Stew Leonard’s lives by these two simple rules:

  1. “The Customer is Always Right.”
  2. “If the Customer is Ever Wrong, Re-Read Rule #1.”

In fact, those two rules are so important to the company that they are written on three-ton granite rocks at the entrance of each store!

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Apart from providing excellent customer service, Stew Leonard’s is also committed to giving back and impacting their community.

For example, each store has a large ‘wishing well’ located near the exit. All of the money accumulated in these wells is then donated to local charities.

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And then there’s the actual quality of the products. Since its beginning in the 1960’s Stew Leonard’s has been committed to sourcing only the best, highest quality products in each store.

Here are some ways that they go about guaranteeing the quality of their products:

  • Delivery – They refuse any delivery that doesn’t meet their high standards; everything must be delivered in mint condition and at the proper temperature.
  • Team Member Training – All team members who work in food production are required to regularly attend food safety classes, and all must follow food handling best practices while on the job.
  • Food Monitoring and Testing – Team members are constantly checking food temperatures, inspecting all equipment and performing routine sanitation techniques to keep everything safe and sanitary.
  • Inspections – Sanitation inspections are performed once a quarter, along with regular health department inspections to make sure everything is up to spec.

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From concept to execution, Stew Leonard’s is definitely a great business model to follow.  Their example teaches us the importance of:

  1. Quality Customer Service – Stew’s simple commitment to customer service has helped shape the company into what it is today. Never underestimate the power of this simple strategy.
  2. An In-House Brand – They sell a lot of their own high quality, privately-labeled products, helping to make them unique and stand out from the crowd.
  3. Perks for Big Spenders – Shop at Stew’s frequently? You will be rewarded with things like a cup of coffee or scoop of ice cream for every $100 spent at the store.
  4. Reasonable Prices – You don’t have to pay a fortune to get high quality products. Items are all reasonably priced so all can enjoy.
  5. Well-Treated Employees – It’s not just the customers who are treated well at Stew’s – the company has frequently appeared among Fortune’s “100 best places to work in America.”

All in all, Stew Leonard’s is not only a successful business, but a quality-driven, customer-focused grocery store. You can learn a lot from company’s like Stew’s; it all boils down to being true to your brand, loyal to your customers, and committed to your products and employees.

All qualities we hold dear here at ShopOnMain. b

Gilt-The E-Retailer Who Does Things Differently

by rice1 0 Comments

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Are you looking to dress like Kate Moss but don’t quite have the budget?

Do you feel like you are always on the lookout for a great deal?

Constantly going from website to website?

Well, let us introduce you to the incredibly successful ecommerce site, Gilt.

Gilt is the largest U.S.-based flash-sale e-retailer.

Today, we’re going to walk you through how Gilt works and how it is they’ve managed to grow into a million-dollar company.

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Based in New York and developed by serial entrepreneurs Dwight Merriman and Kevin Ryan, Gilt takes shopping to the next level.

Kevin wanted to create the fastest, most exciting shopping experience online.  He wanted people sitting on the edge of their seats. So the company came up with the concept of a flash sale.

The idea of a flash sale is that you sell luxury goods for a steep discount for a limited amount of time. Every day at noon a new sale starts on Gilt and lasts only 36 hours. Merchandise is sold in limited quantities, which means that in order to nab your favorite products, you’ve got to act fast.

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And customers are loving these fast-paced sales.

  • With more than 9 million active members, Gilt has an incredible following
  • 68% of members are female as opposed to 32% male
  • And it’s a young crowd! Over 50% of members are under 34 years old

With these droves of clients, Gilt was valued at $1 billion in 2011.

Their growth just happened incredibility fast. In 2010, their sales jumped from $425 million as opposed to $25 million in 2008.

A lot of Gilt’s breakneck speed of growth is attributed to their strategy of offering discounts to customers who refer their friends. Also their sign-up program is incredibly interesting to fellow retailers helping their growth to go viral.

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Gilt scouts the world for unique brands and products. What they’re looking for is women, men, and children’s fashion, as well as unique home décor, artisanal ingredients and unusual experiences. They want products that people typically find inaccessible price-wise.

By purchasing unsold merchandise from designers and wholesalers, they are able to keep prices low and thus make them available to the general public.

If you join Gilt, here are some of the benefits you can expect every time you log in:

  • Instant access to local services and designer fashions
  • Exclusive deals. Sales are fast and furious so if you see an item you like, buy it!
  • Sale previews. View upcoming items before they are released. See the must have trends before your friends.

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Here are two other key reasons (aside from their amazing product choice) that Gilt has a leg up on the competition:

  1. Site navigation and organization. Merchandise is organized around a color, holiday or celebrity. This allows clients to approach their shopping depending on their mood. It also makes the flash-sales more manageable to navigate.
  2. Personalization. When you are a member Gilt tailors your shopping experience. Think of it as your personal shopper. CEO Michelle Peluso explains: “We know exactly what each shopper is doing on the site, not only what they’re buying, but also what they’ve looked at, what they’re putting in their cart and not checking out, and what they have added to their wait lists.”

Gilt has taken the online retailing world by storm; we can all learn a lesson or two from them.b

 

Meet Harry Selfridge: The Man Every Retailer (And Consumer!) Should Know

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“People will sit up and take notice of you, if you will sit up and take notice of what makes them sit up and take notice.”- Harry Selfridge

Harry Gordon Selfridge did just that.

From paper boy to retail tycoon, Harry Selfridge challenged people to think differently.

Today, we’d like to reach back into history and pick out some gems from this Giant of Retailing.

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Harry came from a modest background. He was born in the town of Ripon, Wisconsin.

Entrepreneurial at a young age, at ten years old, Harry delivered newspapers to help support his mother. At the age of 12 he started working at Leonard Field’s dry goods store. The same year he created a boy’s magazine with school friend Peter Loomis. He made money by selling ad space in the magazine.

But Harry had big dreams.

Much bigger dreams.

He left school at age 14 and started working at a bank. He applied to the United States Naval Academy but was rejected due to his height.

He then became a bookkeeper at the local furniture factory. The company closed down four months later, and Harry moved to Grand Rapids to sell insurance.

Not deterred by his slow beginnings, Harry eventually landed a job as a stock boy at Marshall Field & Co. at the age of 18.  During his 25 years with the company he rose through the ranks to become a junior partner.   As an employee of Marshall Field, he played an integral role in innovative changes at the store including the introduction of flower-arranging classes, home-décor advice, a package and coat customer drop off as well as the idea of the wedding gift registry.

The big break in Harry’s life came in 1904 when he opened his own store in Chicago. He called it Harry G. Selfridge and Co. but two months later he sold it.

Despite this initial setback, Selfridge never gave up on the idea of running his own store.

Five years later, while on vacation, Harry saw a gap in the London retail market and decided to open his own department store- Selfridge’s.

This store set new standards and raised the bar for the retail business.

Over 2 million pounds was spent on advertising the week it opened; the store was featured on 104 pages in 18 different national papers.

The ads—just like Selfridge himself—talked about retailing with an entirely new vocabulary, promoting the “pleasures of shopping” and ‘shopping center’ and even cajoling customers to ‘sight see’ at his store–a novel idea in the day.

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Harry was dubbed “the showman of shopping.”  He introduced British consumers to window displays, cooking demonstrations and in-store restaurants.

For the first time, shopping wasn’t seen as a necessity but an experience. He believed people should do it for pleasure.

He was even credited with the Christmas ‘countdown’—warning shoppers there were only so many shopping days left until Christmas.

And one of the most important things he did was recognize that his REAL customer were not the husbands—but the ladies of the house.  He celebrated and catered for his female consumers, understanding their real power.

His store made women feel liberated. Goods were presented beautifully. Women delighted in the store’s comforts with the scent of perfume lingering in the air and soft music playing. They could have lunch with friends or shop unsupervised. And his store was the first in Britain to actually have women’s toilets!

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Here are some other ways Harry Selfridge revolutionized the retail industry:

  1. He made customer comfort a high priority. Merchandise was placed on low counters for customers to touch and feel. Staff members were taught to assist customers and sell the merchandise. There was air conditioning in the summer and steam-heating in the winter. Nine elevators carried customers to five different floors.
  2. He created a luxurious but relaxing atmosphere in his store. There were reception rooms, reading and writing rooms, a library, hairdresser, and a place for women to get their nails done. Multiple restaurants with affordable menus.
  3. He enjoyed the ‘theatre’ of shopping. For example he would light up display windows at night to encourage window shopping.
  4. He understood there was a place for the wealthy and the bargain hunter; he even created a bargain basement for frugal housewives.

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Sadly and despite his mark on retailing, the Harry Selfridge legend ended badly.

The Great Depression caused huge issues for Harry and he was let go from his own stare at the age of 81.

His penchant for pretty women and gambling had left him few resources and he ended his days living in a small rented apartment with his daughter.

He died penniless.

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However, despite this sad ending, Selfridge has left us all—customer and retail alike- a lasting retail legacy.

His fervent comment to putting customer’s needs first not only built a wildly successful business but has paved the way for all of us to have more enjoyable shopping experiences.

Not surprisingly, it was Harry Selfridge who authored the time-honored retail adage (still used today): “The customer is always right.”

He was a giant of a man who saw that there is always great opportunity in looking beyond the ‘same old, same old’, to think differently and to place the highest priority to the dreams of our clients.   

Thanks for showing us how to do it right, Harry.b

How Birchbox Broke the Rules of Retail

by rice1 0 Comments

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Answer honestly:

How many times have you returned a product?

It’s okay.

It’s happened to all of us.

We buy something on a whim without testing it out, and before we know it we’re sheepishly asking for our money back.

That’s why Birchbox- a subscription box forerunner- has changed the world of retail for all of us.

Instead of investing in one particular product just to find out it doesn’t work for you, Birchbox sends subscription sample boxes straight to your doorstep.

Let’s take a look at how two women got together to create one of the most innovative retail establishments out there today.

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Purchasing the right makeup can be hard.

Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna knew this.

Katia- a makeup junkie- was always on the hunt for new products.

Hayley- a cosmetics rookie- felt overwhelmed by all of the choices.

Together they realized that one box could answer both of their needs…

And change the retail world forever.

Their vision? To create a service where women could try different products, learn about them, and purchase their favorites online.

Combined with smart editorial and an ecommerce shop, the two women knew they were onto something.

The first Birchbox was sent out in 2010.

Now the company is valued at 485 million dollars.

Two different needs. One idea. A touch of innovation and they found the recipe for a multi-million-dollar online retail business.

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So how did they go from one conversation to an industry elite?

A couple of reasons:

  1. They filled a need. Women across the world struggle to buy good value makeup that’s ACTUALLY going to work. Hayley and Katia came up with an idea that would answer this demand.
  2. They created an ideal shopping experience. Instead of walking aimlessly around Nordstrom’s collecting samples, Birchbox sends them straight to you. The subscription sample merges a fun shopping experience with the online world.
  3. They understood the importance of testing. The Birchbox team didn’t launch forward with the idea before they tested it out on their target demographic. 

Positive Reception has helped Birchbox reach new heights.

Customers love Birchbox because it’s inexpensive and easy to use.

Plus it introduces them to new products they may have never purchased before.

One of their biggest hits? A built-in rewards program gives users the opportunity to rack up points in exchanged for products.

And it’s growing every day.

With only four years in existence, the evolution has been tremendous.

Birchbox now features:

  • 800 beauty brands
  • 6,500 products
  • 300,000 subscribers
  • 150 employees

They’ve even created a men’s box filled with grooming and lifestyle products, featuring everything from quality razors to patterned socks.

How about the opportunity to merge online and offline retail?

They nailed that too. 

After experimenting with several pop-up stores, Birchbox opened their first brick-and-mortar store in trendy lower Manhattan.

And that’s not the end of it.

Birchbox is now experimenting with other subscription sample ideas, including home décor and lifestyle themes.

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So what’s the formula behind all this success?

It’s pretty simple.

  • $10 a month buys you a subscription
  • Each box is filled with five personalized beauty products
  • Your online beauty profile customizes options meant specifically for you
  • Your profile will tell you what you can expect in the mail, or you can wait for the surprise
  • Product reviews and referral earn you Birchbox Points to buy full-sized products
  • Emails and Birchbox magazine provide fun and easy make up tutorials

Smokey eye tutorials, deluxe luxury samples, and a built-in rewards program.

All at an affordable price.

By breaking convention, Hayley and Katia found an innovative way to combine the hands-on experience of brick and mortar stores with the convenience of the online retail world.

The forerunning subscription beauty box has changed the world of cosmetics. For good.

What can you learn from them?

With a little bit of innovation, the possibilities for online retail are endless.

It truly is a brave new world.2

Warby Parker—Online Retailing On Fire!

by rice1 0 Comments

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When David Gilboa went on a trip to Thailand, he accidentally left his eyeglasses in the back of an airplane seat pocket. When he went online to figure out how to replace them, he was stunned to find out that a new pair was going to set him back a cool $700.

An impossible amount for a college student trying to make ends meet. An amount he decided not to spend which meant he spent the first semester of grad school with no eyeglasses at all, unhappily squinting through every lecture.

That was the bad news.

The good news was that out of this predicament, the idea for Warby Parker was born.

Gilboa joined forces with the other three founders (Neil Blumenthal, Andy Hunt and Jeff Raider ) who had all had similar experiences trying to buy eyeglasses that didn’t burn a hole in their pocket. (It didn’t hurt that Neil Blumenthal had some experience in the area of eyeglasses having already run a nonprofit called VisionSpring that trains women in the developing world to give eye exams and sell glasses.)

Warby Parker today is nothing less than an online retailing phenomenon, having changed the face of ecommerce forever.

Here are some of the lessons to be learned from this innovative company:

 

Lesson One: Every brilliant online retailing idea begins with a problem.

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Warby Parker was founded for one reason only. There was a gaping hole in the marketplace when it came to eyeglasses. They were simply priced too high—buying glasses online was prohibitively expensive.

When the founders of Warby Parker started to dig deeper, they discovered there was essentially a single company which ran the eyewear industry. Which meant they had a virtual monopoly and could price eyeglasses as they wished. This left customers with scant choice and crazily high prices.

The Warby Parker founders reasoned there must be a better way.   They assumed (rightly) that there would be a lot of consumers out there who wanted their eyeglasses for less, without compromising quality or fashion.

 

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So they rolled up their sleeves to provide just that service.

The key?

To keep the prices down while ensuring the quality level was high.

They decided the best way to do both was simply to design in-house. Making glasses, they found out, was actually pretty inexpensive.

And in the end, Warby Parker was able to offer glasses, including lenses, at a super affordable $95.

Within a very short period of time, the Warby Parker ecommerce site was up and booming (with a waitlist 20,000 + long!) Dubbed the ‘Netflix of eyewear’, people couldn’t stop talking about them. This still remains true today with a whopping 50% of the company’s sales still being driven by word of mouth.

But the seed of their success was that their product solved a big problem for a lot of people.  

 

Lesson Two: Online retailing is not just about products.

 

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Warby Parker offers a great product–eyeglasses at cheaper prices without scrimping on quality or fashion.

But what Warby Parker is more than anything else is a lifestyle brand… It has a personality and it caters to a very specific audience. It is a company created by millennials, for millennials.

Their product, the look and feel of their site and their emphasis on social good speaks 100% to their core client.   A great example of this is their now famous devotion to charity; for every pair of glasses Warby Parker sells, it makes a donation to its nonprofit partners so people in the developing world can get eye exams and glasses cheaply

 

Lesson Three: An online retailer shouldn’t necessarily ‘just’ remain online.

 

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Once Warby Parker proved its proposition online, they decided to start creating brick and mortar stores.   This is interesting because we hear about examples of companies going from brick and mortar to ecommerce but rarely see this happen in reverse order.

They started out as an online store for some very straightforward reasons. They wanted to:

  • Cut out the middle man
  • Offer cheaper prices
  • Avoid the overhead costs that are associated with a physical presence.

Once their proposition was ‘proven’ online, they then decided to open brick and mortar stores. Their first stand-alone brick and mortar store opened its doors in New York and many more have popped up since then.

And while the company still makes the majority of its profits from online sales, the physical stores are adding more to the experience of the brand.   Simply put, it gives people the chance to have physical interaction with the product. People still like to feel, touch, and try on items before purchasing, and that’s why their physical stores were a great addition to their business venture.

The creators of Warby Parker actually had brick and mortar shops on their mind from the very beginning. They recognized (and continue to recognize!) the great value of having that customer relationship and connection with the product in a physical setting.

Plus they knew people wanted to ‘touch’ the real product because from the very beginning they received hundreds of requests from people to come to their apartment just so they could try on their glasses! This eventually evolved into their online ‘home try-ons’ which allow people to test 5 eyeglasses for free online. But in the end, they knew that nothing would really replace a physical presence in terms of a ‘real store’.

 

Lesson Four: Good Retailing Ideas Have A Very High ROI

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Named the “first great made-on-the-internet-brand” by Fast Company and hailed as one of the most innovative companies in 2015, Warby Parker has a well-earned reputation as an edgy online retailing brand. Four years after their launch, the company announced they had distributed their millionth pair of glasses (up from 500,000 just a year before). And after only five years, the company is valued at over one billion dollars by the Wall Street Journal. And according to co-founder Dave Gilboa, annual sales continue to accelerate at a fast clip.

 

The Biggest Take-Away From the Warby Parker Example?

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If there is something to be learned from the Warby Parker example, it is their keen attention to what people want from the get-go. The core concept of the company was born out of a gaping need on the market. Their addition of free ‘home try-ons’ was pure genius. Their move to brick and mortar stores was a recognition that consumers wanted to physically interact with their products.

Today, Warby Parker provides both a superior online product and a rich ‘real store’ experience. The company has solved a BIG problem for millions of consumers, not to mention paid handsome dividends to the owners.

Here at ShopOnMain we love this kind of retailing success stories. We too seek to offer the best of online convenience with the ‘look and feel’ of the real store experience.  Want to create some online retailing magic for your store?  We’d love to talk to you!

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Our Retail Heartthrobs

by rice1 0 Comments

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When it comes to epic retailers, we’re like every teenage girl. We have one or two crushes on the most innovative and inspiring companies in the field.

While there’s always room for more and more groundbreaking ideas for successful retail, we want to take a second to look at top 5 in the game.

Because here at ShopOnMain we love to see businesses questioning everything, pushing boundaries, and trying out ideas that, on the surface, might seem ridiculous! They inspire us to think outside the box.

These five companies have tried selling their products in different and unique ways that we can’t help but love. Check it out…

 

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Everyone knows this beast. You might even be able to recognize these famous bikes from just listening to one of their engines roar.

This quintessential motorcycle company upped its game with the ladies.

What they do differently: When they realized that about 10% of their market were women, they decided to go all out. First off, they started manufacturing their motorcycles with lower seats to accommodate women. Next, they started holding “women only” garage parties that offered tips and presentations for motorcycle riding. That’s right… an all ladies garage party. All of which helped drive up sales for their overlooked female demographic.

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Why we love it: Even though Harley Davidson does not operate a classic ecommerce website, they are using their Internet presence to communicate and connect with people. Not only did they create helpful videos (like a how to pick up a fallen bike as demonstrated by a woman) but they also were able to get the crowds necessary for their garage parties.

Looking at connecting to an untapped market through the web… when you think about it…the possibilities are endless!

 

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The name ‘Apple’ is synonymous with ‘revolutionary technology’. They’re the very definition of innovation. And they’ve continued to blow our minds in their retail stores worldwide.

What they do differently: You no longer need a cash machine to check out. Pick up the item and a friendly customer service agent will have you pay right there and then. No need to wait in a line.

Or—even more innovative—you don’t even need to do that. You can simply buy your favorite Mac item from an app without interacting with a human being. Checkout—floating or otherwise—at Apple is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Why we love it: One word. Efficiency! Have you seen the line at Apple, especially during a holiday or when a new product hits the shelves? It’s about as close to hell as we can get here on earth. So having the ability to checkout and pay without having to find a real human being and waiting in line is nothing short of genius, and of course totally groundbreaking. A classic example of a company taking a retailing problem that people hate, turning it on its head and making it into a compelling point of difference.

Selling your products, without having the traditional customer queue at a checkout counter, might be the next big thing since sliced bread.

 

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Raise your hand if this has happened to you: You missed a package delivery because the time they were going to be at your house ranged from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM and at the exact time you left the house to get that Chinese takeout order (because you’re stuck at home with an empty fridge), they came and you missed your package. You literally missed them by 3 minutes and you so desperately wanted that package.

Yup… we’ve all been there.

What they do differently: So Amazon Lockers came into play to help you with this delivery time conundrum. Here’s the same scenario as above—but this time using Amazon Lockers…

You missed your package, but instead of having to wait again the next day for it or having to drive to the post office and wait in line, you get a unique pickup code. You take that code to an Amazon Locker location and get your item ASAP. This can also be used for people returning items so they can go sans the post office visit.

Why we love it: This is taking online retail ordering to the next level. Everyone shops online now, but not everyone can afford to sit at home waiting on that special package that needs to be signed off on. In effect, the inconvenience of waiting for the package often cancels out the convenience of shopping online in the first place. An innovation like Amazon Lockers solves that problem in one fell swoop.

 

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How many times have you looked through a catalogue and wanted to buy it but never did because you forgot about it later. After all, you’re just browsing through a magazine. There’s no “add to cart” button. Same goes for when you’re at the store. Maybe you see something you love, but they are out of your size.

Wouldn’t it be great to just scan these items on your phone and order it right there?

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What they do differently: Sportsgirl has tackled this problem with their innovative phone app. Scan something you see as you walk around a store or an item in a catalogue and it saves your purchase for when you’re ready to buy it online.

Why we love it: How much easier can this get? The ultimate way to shop is to virtually shop and purchase, but we always see something we want out in “real life.” So here’s a way to still purchase those things at a time that’s convenient for you. So don’t worry about shopping on your lunch break anymore, you won’t have to wait in line with the rest. Just scan and purchase later!

 

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Usually stores go from brick and mortar to online retail, but Bonobo went backwards and has had huge success. We all love to shop online, but sometimes we want to go into a store and see the fit, touch the material, or at least have the option to. That’s what this modern menswear store did.

What they do differently: They don’t offer your average Joe’s clothing. They offer better fitting men’s wear. They also listened to their customers. They gave them a choice. Even though many men ‘say’ they hate shopping and would prefer to purchase items online, there is a demographic that likes to shop in person. So they expanded their online presence to actual stores and discovered that their first time in-store customers spent more than the first timers online.

Why we love it: Bonobos gave men what they wanted. A highly personalized shopping experience where their high quality items could be seen AND touched at their store. The problem with their online-only store was it lacked both personalization and physicality. By opening a store, men got to experience both sides of the brand, which proved to be an excellent decision on Bonobos’ part.

Make sure to tune in next week when we take a closer look at similar store which has been wildly successful, Warby Parker ( another one of our retail heartthrobs).

So what does it take for a business to be successful? To be innovative? New and fresh? Sometimes all you need is to look at the status quo and question it. That’s what we’re doing here at ShopOnMain. We’re here to blend the online shopping world with real life experiences.

 

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