Fashion is an art, but it’s the data that drives ModCloth. The retail fashion scene is more competitive than ever, but ModCloth stands out from the pack by being community-centric. Today at NRFtech ’12, Eric Koger, CEO and Co-Founder of ModCloth, explained that the brand’s community concept wins on three fronts. It helps differentiate the brand, the social validation component helps drive conversion, and the sense of belonging to a community fosters loyalty.
Koger went on to explain how the “five C’s” factor into the vintage fashion retailer’s community-centric retailing concept:
- Curation: Curation is essential get the process started. The community relies on the taste and style of its team to select and suggest fashion choices.
- Content: There are up to 50 new products a day on the ModCloth website, and that fresh content is essential to making browsing the ModCloth site a daily habit. Koger shared that one-third of all visitors to the site check the site every day, while 10% of traffic is visiting the site eight times a day or more. Photos of staff members modeling clothing, videos, user-generated photos and a popular fashion blog are all important, sharable and long-lasting tools.
- Conversation. Every touch point with a customer is viewed as an ongoing conversation with that customer, so social media plays an important role in driving those conversations. A social media team engages with customers on various sites outside of ModCloth as well.
- Collaboration. This is a key part of the Be the Buyer program that allows customers to vote on which designs are created and sold by ModCloth, and the company launched a new program in which design ideas are submitted, curated by the ModCloth team, and voted on.
- Culture. ModCloth has 300 employees, a lot of whom are customers themselves. Team members actively showing their support by posting modeling photos on the website is a feature that customers love, and that fun-loving culture helps set the tone for the brand and the entire community.
But while these five C’s of community are more on the style side, it’s data that really drives the company. ModCloth had to figure out a scoring system to calculate all those votes, comments and feedback from the community, and they’ve now found the right formula to select winners. Koger added that the Be the Buyer products sell two-and-a-half times better than other products on the site.
Technology that helps designers analyze feedback has also come in handy. Koger shared an example of using word cloud applications to find trends in hundreds of comments for a particularly unpopular dress. As it turned out, most customers hated all the ruffles, so ModCloth simply removed the ruffle from the picture of dress, put it back up, and voila! Instant hit.
The concept of data becoming as important or more important than gut instinct is one that Koger says will shape the future of fashion. At ModCloth, data helps the customer to always come out on top.