The modern man is more confident in his style, the term “metrosexual” has become passé, and marketers targeting today’s male consumers are adapting accordingly. Still, young retailers are busy coming up with new ways to get these guys to actually shop with them.
In its 2016 Male Shopping Report, Boutique@Ogilvy found that 94 percent of men are embracing a “defined sense of style,” and 63 percent shop monthly in order to update their wardrobes. Overall, men’s monthly spending on clothing has surpassed women’s.
Male-only retailers, in fierce competition, want to make it as easy as possible for these customers to buy from them, and a few e-commerce models have emerged to seal the deal with finicky male shoppers.
The model: Guide Shops.
How it works: Bonobos’s Guide Shops are retail shops that carry inventory, staff stylists and store associates, and offer a high-touch physical experience to complement its online store. Men are invited to try on clothes, consult staff and enjoy a drink from the mini fridge. Nothing, however, can actually be purchased in the shop. If a customer wants to buy something, the store associates place an order for them online, and it ships within two days. Returns are free and can be done in store or online.
Bonobos founder Andy Dunn said during his Shoptalk keynote on May 18 that pure-play e-commerce wasn’t a viable way to grow a retail business, so they set out to “invent the retail store of the future.” Bonobos opened its first Guide Shop in 2012, and now has 21 locations with plans to open 11 more in 2016. According to Dunn, one of Bonobos’s top performing stores does between $2.5 and $3 million in revenue a year.
The Guide Shops lack the instant gratification that comes with making an in-store retail purchase, which Work & Co partner Jon Jackson said is a downside, but what’s more important is that the brand is providing a memorable, high touch experience by treating their customers to drinks and snacks while they shop and keeping their stores clean and minimal, rather than chaotic.
“People are getting exposure [to different retailers] all over the place,” said Jackson. “So in some ways, people want to see the human creation of the things they’re spending money on and believe that things are worthwhile, and make a connection with the brand. That’s what a great retail experience does.”
The model: TryOut, a new way to shop JackThreads’ e-commerce store that opened to all customers on May 25.
How it works: The model lets JackThreads customers put as much as they want into their carts, keep a credit card on file, ship it to their homes, and try it on before deciding what they want to keep, and what they want to send back. They have seven days to put any return items in the mail, and after that, their card will be charged for whatever they keep.
JackThreads shifted away from its former flash sale model to be an e-commerce retailer, with its original line of clothing launching in October last year. CEO Mark Walker said 2016 would be about perfecting the experience, and that the problem the company wants to solve is how to get more guys to consider the brand.
“Buying clothes online sucks,” said Walker. “I might need to touch and feel in order to have confidence to purchase, so we solved that problem by bringing the store to them. We let him try things on and gain confidence in what he’s purchasing before he needs to spend a penny.”
JackThreads’ model makes it low-risk to shop online, solving for a consumer that’s inclined not to try out uncertain styles or fits when shopping online. But the budding JackThreads brand will have to be strong for it to work.
“Some of these things can be gimmicky,” said Jackson. “To me, what’s more important is to get people excited about your brand and product and this is going after the way I shop with them. It doesn’t matter as much if it gets to my house quickly or doesn’t charge my credit card right away if I’m excited about the brand.”
Frank + Oak
The model: Frank + Oak Elevate
How it works: Elevate is an annual membership. For $20 a year, men can get free express shipping on all orders, cash back deals and personalized stylist services in store.
Frank + Oak Elevate was put in place in February this year and replaced Hunt Club, Frank + Oak’s subscription box program, similar to Trunk Club. This program, CMO Eric Alper said, makes it easier for customers to shop when they want, and for what they want, whether it’s online or in store, as customer profiles in the Elevate membership are highly detailed with information like sizes, color and fit preferences, occupation and even drink preferences, so they can be served when they walk into a store.
For a company like Frank + Oak, the difficulty is in convincing customers to pay up $20 a year upfront, but if they do, a highly personalized customer service strategy is a smart loyalty play.
“The real value in Frank + Oak’s tech-driven retail model is the data they’re able to collect,” said Mary Beth Keelty, CMO of PM Digital. “If they can implement that data not only in their virtual styling offering, but also in the in-store experience, they’re in a much better position.”