Past readers of this blog will recognize my affection for ecommerce companies trying to disrupt and improve the ways retailers have long sold to customers. From buying glasses at Warby Parker, to selling diamonds and jewelry online at Blue Nile, to publishing a new website every day customized to your preferences at zulily, I enjoy learning about and shopping at companies who have this objective in mind. When changing fashion trends and a slimmer physique made it so I needed to purchase a new suit for an event, I was excited to give Indochino a try. I had read about them and was impressed with how one of the founders struggled with his own suit buying experience and used it as inspiration to bring custom menswear to the masses.
My first interaction with the Indochino site was a positive one: the site had a nice layout and was quick to point out “best seller” snipes on several of the items I was considering. With a purchase of this type, I tend to be conservative with my choices and appreciate hearing what others have selected. Indochino’s site also had a detailed section on “why custom” which helped differentiate them from other options and moved me closer to becoming a customer. I ultimately decided on a charcoal suit as it matched the majority of my shirts and ties and seemed to be a good option for the largest number of occasions.
Once I had selected the particular suit, it was time to move on to the customization stage. For this I utilized the services of my wife Erin who had the unenviable task of measuring me in more ways than I had previously thought possible.
Indochino’s website provided very detailed instructions complete with videos that made me confident I was doing the process correctly. They also had clear instructions and images for other custom options like cuff style that helped me understand what I was selecting.
Overall the process of customizing the suit was an enjoyable one as it reinforced their value proposition and made me excited to receive my custom suit in 3–5 weeks.
My suit arrived less than 3 weeks after completing my purchase which exceeded their estimates. It’s always a good idea to underpromise and overdeliver with shipping times so I was pleased it arrived when it did. I liked the presentation of my suit when it arrived — it came via FedEx in a box within a box that made their brand look upscale.
The fabric and quality seemed consistent with my past suits (purchased from places like J. Crew and Brooks Brothers) and it was nice to see the items I had customized like my name on the inside pocket and the interior color of the jacket. I was cutting it close to an event where I needed to wear my suit so I tried it on quickly and decided it fit well enough to use. However after wearing the suit for the evening it seemed like the sleeves and pants were too short. I would ultimately take the suit in to a local tailor to correct this to finally make my suit the right size.
Though it was disappointing to have to take my suit in for alterations, I remain pleased with my decision to give Indochino a try. The experience of buying a custom suit from home was more enjoyable than heading to a brick and mortar store that would have required either a babysitter or distracting an energetic 2 year old. I also likely saved money in the process and ended up with an item that fits better than one purchased in more traditional ways. That does not mean, however, that the process was perfect as there were several places where I think they could improve. I outline these in the next section along with some tips I have for Indochino based on my own experiences working in ecommerce.
- Increase number of traveling tailors: the biggest disappointment in my experience was receiving a product that did not fit perfectly and needing to take it in for alterations. To Indochino’s credit they reimbursed me for this expense, but I still had to take time to visit a local tailor and went weeks without my new suit. I strongly encourage them to expand their traveling tailor program that would hopefully help customers like me receive proper measurements from the outset. If the cost of scaling this program independently proves prohibitive, I would encourage them to partner with tailors in major markets to perform this service since the services are complementary and not competitive. They could also gather data on alteration rates and steer customers to the tailors who take the most accurate measurements. My sense is the percentage of customers needing alterations is lower if measured by a traveling tailor and that needing alterations has a negative effect on repeat rates. Testing partnering with local tailors in select markets seems like a quick win and is something I would encourage Indochino to try.
- Greater investment in several details of customer experience: I noticed two parts of the customer experience where a small investment could pay long-term dividends to Indochino. The first is including a garment bag with each custom suit. The cost is likely low and would likely generate referrals and more word-of-mouth awareness (such as from prospective customers seeing it on a plane or in a hotel room). This would not be easy to test, but they could provide them in a specific geographic market and see if that market has higher referrals or overall sales compared with a control group. The second area where a small investment could pay off is in providing complimentary fabric samples rather than charging for a tailor’s kit. The cost of these is not likely very high, especially considering it’s a large ticket purchase, and they could even include a self-addressed return package to recoup everything but the shipping. Warby Parker offers something similar and it was one of the things that made me confident in my selection. I encourage Indochino to test out free samples to see if it drives up conversion rates and brings down returns as I imagine it could help both metrics in significant ways.
- Delay mention of referral bonus until product arrives: immediately after hitting “purchase” on Indochino I received notice of their generous referral bonus where I could save $50 if someone I referred became a customer. The referred person also saved $50 on what is a very generous 2-way referral program. While referrals are likely the most effective marketing program for a considered purchase like this and Indochino is wise to encourage them, I do not like to be asked to refer something until I have seen the product in person. The high $ amount also made me feel like I had missed an opportunity to receive a discount of my own and caused me some anxiety about the quality of the purchase I just made. The referral mention included in the package was a much more timely message and I would encourage them to align all other referral messaging with this moment.
- Tone down remarketing and move marketing budget into upper funnel: ever since visiting and purchasing from Indochino, I have seen many remarketing ads trying to sell me on their products. These have been on the web with what looks like Criteo and also on Facebook with FBX.
This compares to the almost zero advertising that I saw prior to visiting the site. Though the ROI of remarketing might appear to be high, from my experience I question whether funds would be better spent in upper funnel activities. Since I have already made a purchase, is there that much to be gained from marketing to me (even prior to my suit arriving)? Being direct response-oriented on large ticket items is not always easy as my time at Blue Nile taught me, but I feel shifting budgets earlier in the funnel would lead to faster growth in the long run and would be a better use of marketing funds than so much remarketing.
Originally published at www.ryanmetzger.org on March 17, 2014.