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How ScotteVest hopes to reshape the online (and offline) apparel world

June 23, 2016 04:37 PM
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Travel apparel maker and longtime direct-to-consumer online retailer ScotteVest Inc. has a new vision for how online-only clothing makers can enter the physical retail world.

It can be tough to sell apparel exclusively online, many merchants and experts say, as the fit and feel of clothing can be such a personal choice. To ease consumers’ concerns, some merchants like Zappos Inc. (part of Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide) offer generous return policies while others, like Neiman Marcus (No. 36), deploy elaborate virtual fitting-room technology.

ScotteVest aims to take another route with a system for deployment in stores that combines beacon technology, live video chat, biometric sensors and product recommendation tools.

“We’re taking a bunch of the obvious things available out there, putting it together and giving an experience that makes good sense for apparel retailers and for stores,” says ScotteVest founder Scott Jordan.

It would work like this: ScotteVest would make a deal with a retailer such that ScotteVest could place its device within a store. That device would be outfitted with a monitor, camera, speakers and a rack of ScotteVest clothing in various styles and colors.

When a shopper moved near the device, beacons would recognize that and play a video tailored to that store and ocation, telling consumers about the benefits of ScotteVest clothing. If the shopper begins to walk away, a live video chat could come on and loop back to ScotteVest headquarters so a customer service representative could offer personalized service, or say, “Hey, come on back and check us out.”

If a shopper so chooses, biometric scanners could measure his size and the system would recommend products for him to try on from the rack. The store would not stock inventory, and orders could be placed through the device to be shipped in as little as a few hours or up to three days, depending on the proximity of the store to the Amazon location fulfilling orders for Scottevest.

The retailer would get a cut of every sale that originates from that store, much as affiliate marketers that direct online consumers to e-commerce sites get a commission when the consumer buys. The stores wouldn’t have to stock inventory or train staffers on the product.

Plus, if later that same shopper goes back to ScotteVest.com to place additional orders, the original store would continue to get affiliate fees, as long as the Scottevest display remains in the store.

The device can be installed at any store or function as a “pop-up shop” in airports or other high-traffic areas, Jordan says. The e-retailer is in negotiations with an undisclosed store within an airport to install the first device within the third quarter.

ScotteVest, founded in 2001, is ranked No. 840 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Second 500 Guide. The merchant had Internet Retailer-estimated web sales of $9.7 million last year.

The merchant has tested a number of growth strategies in recent years, including crowdfunding as a way to test new product ideas, and a foray on ABC’s popular television show “Shark Tank.”

 

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