Ecommerce is an area being watched closely by entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs alike. New business models are constantly emerging, making this a competitive and constantly evolving field.
The apparel category is particularly exciting: The recently launched Amazon Prime Wardrobe, for instance, allows consumers to have clothing delivered to their door, after which they can try it out for seven days before deciding whether to keep it. They can send items back whenever they decide; they don't even need to be home to have return packages picked up.
Taking inspiration from Amazon and other businesses, many apparel and accessory ecommerce companies are similarly trying their hand at "something new and different." These innovative companies are taking ecommerce to the next level.
The perfect shirt is hard to come by. But what if perfect fit could be achieved with the help of two simple metrics? That's what Crisp Clothing does. By using your height and weight and what it calls "3D Measuring," Crisp Clothing can tailor the perfect shirt for you.
Founded by Swapnil and Prakash Kamble -- a father-and-son team -- Crisp Clothing uses 100 percent Egyptian Giza cotton to fashion its handmade tailored shirts, which are currently available in black, white, blue and pink. The company recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding for the project.
Not surprisingly, the cost of a single shirt isn't cheap, but pledging to the Crisp Clothing campaign at the $78 level will get you one custom, hand-crafted shirt.
What's clearly innovative about Crisp Clothing is the approach it takes to crafting the perfect shirt. Technology is the difference. It gives Crisp Clothing a more scientific way to tailor shirts that look and feel great.
The Nordstrom-owned Trunk Club may be a familiar name to some. Its business model is a lot like that of Amazon Prime Wardrobe, except Trunk Club has been around a lot longer.
This is its process: First, the customer is prompted to answer a few questions about the style of clothing he (or she) is interested in, how the clothing should fit and what budget range is desired. Then, he can chat with a stylist who'll offer help on exactly what he's ooking for (though this step is not mandatory).
The trunk is delivered free of charge once the customer approves it, and he or she has five days to decide what clothing to keep and what to send back. Then, the customer can either reorder on his or her own schedule or set up a regular delivery schedule, to keep the wardrobe fresh.
What Trunk Club did right was make it easier for the consumer to get items that are truly desired. Time can be a commodity in today's busy world, and with the rise of online shopping, consumers don't necessarily go to malls or stores to shop anymore. Trunk Club is an easy, fast and convenient way for today's buyer to meet his or her clothing needs.
Bonobos was launched because its founders recognized how difficult it is for consumers to find pants that fit perfectly. To solve this problem, Bonobos developed a signature curved waistband that fits more naturally around your waist. The company offers free shipping as well as painless returns and exchanges.
Bonobos also has something called a Guideshop. Customers can schedule a one-hour appointment at a Guideshop, try on anything in the store and find the perfect clothing with the help of a Guide. Customers don't have to take any bags home, as the Guide will place the order and have it shipped to the customer's home or office.
Bonobos is doing a couple of noteworthy things for its customers. First, it came up with a solution where none previously existed, thereby creating more comfortable pants. Second, it created a unique in-store experience that allows customers to find what they're looking for on their own time -- a personalized experience they're sure to remember.
Wanderlust + Co
Accessorizing is a term near and dear to many women. Jenn Low, founder of Wanderlust + Co, creates custom jewelry and accessories that many models and celebrities don at notable events. Her work is inspired by what she calls the #WCOgirlgang, which includes celebrities, fashion bloggers, editors, stylists and content creators.
What's innovative about Wunderlust + Co is Low's willingness to cater to a specific audience. She doesn't create products consumers dn't want. She built her own tribe, #WCOgirlgang, and stays in regular contact with them to come up with new product ideas her audience will love.
Entrepreneurs sometimes take the opposite approach, creating a product first and then finding an audience for it. Sometimes that can work, but there are no guarantees. A more reliable approach, especially today, is what Low does: She's built a brand around a target audience, offering products they want and have even asked for.
Complete transparency is hard to find but has become somewhat trendier, thanks to online entrepreneurs like Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas.
That's where Everlane stands out. These founders aim to be as up-front as possible about the cost of their goods. They even offer a detailed breakdown on materials, hardware, labor, duties and transport. They also reveal what the true cost of the product is, in addition to what they're selling it for.
If you've ever wondered where your money is going when you purchase a product, you won't have to, with Everlane. You'll get total transparency, and that builds trust. Though full transparency may not be the right approach for every business, it's something to consider: Maybe no one in your industry is embracing it, making it worth considering as a strategy.
If you're an ecommerce business owner, what could you be doing to separate yourself from the pack? If you have a different business model, what can you learn from the above and implement in your business?
As ecommerce becomes increasingly competitive, it will be more and more necessary for more business owners to embrace innovation and find their unique approach. The ecommerce landscape will continue to be an interesting one to watch, especially as Amazon continues to launch new and noteworthy services.