The 'New' Custom
Alternate window coverings—shades and blinds, mostly, but
shutters, too—have been available in custom sizes over the
Internet for a long time along with wall coverings, floor coverings
and even furnishings. Soft treatments, however, have been the stand
out because of the highly emotional, touchy-feely nature of fabrics.
That could be changing.
A recent report in the electronic magazine InternetRetailer.com
says that clothing retailer Lands’ End is making its successful
Web-based custom-fit ordering program available by telephone. The
Web program began in October 2002 and has been so successful that
the company is making it more widely available. Now consumers will
be able to call in and order a limited selection of clothing custom-fit
to their specific needs. Sam Taylor, Lands’ End vice president
of e-commerce, was quoted as saying, “It’s just like ordering
from your tailor in Hong Kong, but at a fraction of the cost.”
It’s hard to imagine a product that is more hands on, more
got-to-see-it-before-you-buy-it than clothing—unless, perhaps,
it’s custom draperies. Yet, the consumer apparently is responding.
The latest Lands’ End catalogs feature a two-page spread explaining
how consumers can place a custom order.
What’s more, Lands’ End reports that customers who order
custom-fit clothing have a 39 percent higher retention rate than
its average customer and spends 39 percent more in the following
Throw in a few more tidbits about online shopping and this really
starts getting interesting. For one, Nelsen/Net Ratings, an Internet
audience measuring and analysis firm, reports that for the week
ending February 7, 2004, Internet marketing sites featuring Home
Improvement and Domestic items received a total of 282 million hits
(169.8 million and 112.8 million, respectively). Somewhere in there
is a market for window treatments. And two, the same firm also reports
that most online shoppers are women (52 percent).
Bingo! Your customers are there, and they appear ready and willing
to shop online. The next step is making the offer.
One final note: There’s one thing that catalog and online clothing
retailers have gotten very good at. In preparing their written sales
pitches, they usually are good at describing the color, the fiber
content and how the garment feels. But what they really do best
is play to the lifestyle the consumer wants and how the new clothes
will make them feel. Point well taken.