How can a fashion start-up – already competing in a crowded market which includes none other than Amazon – become successful not only online but also in physical retail stores? It needs to develop a cutting-edge business plan to drive customers away from ordering online and into their stores. This is not an easy task; for many years now, retail stores have been losing customers and oftentimes going bankrupt due to traditional showrooming: where customers come into stores to look at something and/or try it on and only then to go home and order that item online where it is cheaper.
With Fabletics, however, this is where reverse showrooming comes into play. As the name implies, the idea is that customers don’t look at something at a store and then buy it online. Instead, they look at it online and then buy it at a store. Why would someone do this? Well, if a company properly engages their customer base, then the customers will feel enthusiastic about purchasing something there and be driven to go into a store.
Fabletics promotes and encourages this behavior. For example, someone going to their website will see an invitation to take an online Lifestyle Quiz, which will yield results that suggest which of the company’s apparel is best for him or her. That person may then do some more browsing and, partly based on the suggestions from the quiz, will go into a brick and mortar store and buy that item.
Successful use of reverse showrooming is not easy. It requires that a company provides excellent customer services and properly manages its inventory to maximize customer satisfaction. For Fabletics, at least for the time being, it seems that they have found this winning formula: after the company’s first three years of operations, they have managed a whopping $250 million in sales and are still growing with plans for many additional retail outlets.
Kate Hudson, one of the owners of Fabletics, is excited about its success and the prospects of the company going into the future. Having been a key member of the team and continuing to maintain an active role in the day-to-day operations, she not only pays attention to the small details but also successfully promotes the company on a large scale. If she can continue to do what she has been doing, then companies like Amazon may be given a run for their money when it comes to fashion.