Amazon has been alone in the top spot of the e-commerce women’s apparel market for years, and bringing in 20 percent of the sales in that niche means they usually do not worry about the competition. Although Amazon has not see a real threat to their bottom line in years, it appears that Kate Hudson’s Fabletics may be about to give the retail giant a serious run for that money. In the prior three years, Fabletics has sold over $250 million in women’s workout apparel and active-wear. Is this something long-term or just another one-hit wonder?
Asking Hudson about the overall success of her athleisure brand, she talks about two key components that have had the biggest impact on the company. Hudson credits the membership program of her company and a selling process known as reverse showrooming. When consumers arrive at the Fabletics store in the mall, they are free to try on as man of the pieces of workout apparel they like, sign-up for the free membership, take the Lifestyle Quiz, and then continue window-shopping. There is no pressure put on customers by the sales associates, and leaving the story without making a purchase doesn’t concern Hudson.
If people are leaving without buying, how can the company sustain the $250 million in sales long-term?
To see the rest of the buying process in action, we watch as these same customers eventually wind up at the Fabletics website. Members will discover all the items that they tried on in the retail store are sitting in the online profile now. Since these shoppers know how the pieces of active-wear fit, the guessing part of the buying process has been eliminated. Unlike at Amazon where these same customers are hesitant to buy because they could be returning that same piece until it fits, at Fabletics the customer knows exactly what fits. These women will often purchase more pieces of workout apparel on impulse like they would if they were in a traditional shopping setting.
The relaxed atmosphere of buying on the web is not the only benefit for members of Kate Hudson’s Fabletics. These customers get lower pricing on goods, a personal shopping assistant, and free shipping for online orders. The personal assistant responds to the quiz answers and chooses something each month they think will interest the customer. The customer always has the last say on anything suggested, nothing will ever ship without permission.