Here's How Indochino Is Tailoring Outstanding Showroom Experiences

brought to you by WBR Insights

'Showrooming' is a word that can strike fear into the hearts of many bricks-and-mortar retailers - but for made-to-measure menswear outfit Indochino, it's become the core pillar of an incredibly successful business model.

Beginning life as an online-only company in 2014, the Vancouver-based Indochino has since made the leap into bricks with finesse. But there's a little twist in the coat-tail. Indochino's stores are not actually stores in the traditional sense - rather, they are showrooms, and carry no actual inventory whatsoever.

A Completely New Approach to Retail

The success of Indochino's showroom concept really does shed a light on how men - and particularly millennial men - today like to buy suits. Operating by appointments, instead of inventory, Indochino's showrooms present over 100 suiting fabric panels and shirt samples. Customers are assisted by in-store representatives - known as 'Style Guides' - as they are encouraged to assume the role of designer for their very own, tailor-made suits.

After fabric and shirt selection, the Style Guide measures the customer, and three weeks later the finished suit and shirts are shipped to his front door.

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For Indochino, this in-store fitting experience is more than simply securing a single sale, but an exercise in relationship-building that can translate into multiple online sales further down the line - once a customer's measurements are taken, they are stored online, making for easy additional new suit or tailored shirt purchases.

"Indochino was born out of the belief that custom clothing should be accessible to everyone," said CEO Drew Green. "We started online and, while we were seeing huge success, we also realized that there are many people who prefer the in-person experience of having someone guide them through the process of designing a suit. Our decision to evolve into an omnichannel commerce company has given us the rare opportunity to develop a completely new approach to retail centered around the customer experience and I believe that this approach will direct how we all shop in the future."

Allowing the Customer to Engage with the Brand

Indochino's showrooms are designed primarily to lift the company's online business. It's been almost three years since Indochino's first permanent showroom appeared, and on December 14th 2017, number 19 opened at the Mall of America in Minnesota. In 2018, Indochino will be doubling down on the concept with at least 18 more showrooms coming to locations like Austin, Nashville, and Atlanta, with more openings in New York and Los Angeles also planned.

For Green, bringing the Indochino brand into physical spaces was an important move in helping customers feel more at ease with making sizeable online purchases (suits start at $399).

"It started with the [...] interactions we were having with our customers, and an understanding that some customers are just not comfortable with making the purchase online," said Green. "It's a $400-$500 purchase on average, and for some men it's a fairly big decision. Us introducing retail stores really allows the customer to engage with our brand, engage with our experience in a whole different way. They're able to touch the product, they're able to have Style Guides bring them through the entire experience - everything from measurements to picking the fabric to personalizing, customizing and essentially crafting a one-of-a-kind garment."

Achieving the Perfect Fit

Another benefit of showrooms is that Indochino pays less rent for them on the high street, and since they carry no actual stock, the retailer has less overhead - savings which Indochino passes onto the customer.

"Showrooms actually require less space than a regular store, as we don't hold any inventory," Green explained. "We have refined our approach to retail expansion over the past couple of years, to the point that our showrooms are able to be self-sustaining, and can pay back in under a year. Our showroom philosophy is to guide every customer from start to finish to help them achieve the perfect fit."

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Indochino continues to see exceptional growth from its showroom concept, having enjoyed an increase in revenue of over 50% for the second consecutive year in 2017, and is gaining customer loyalty in the form of repeat online sales.

The company's goal is to open over 100 showrooms across the country during the next decade, and explore international expansion - in February it was announced that Indochino had received a strategic investment from Mitsui & Co. (USA), Inc., with an eye to building its North American operations and developing its global supply chain.

Final Thoughts

With iMacs in-store and Style Guides armed with iPads, Indochino is not your typical menswear retail format by any stretch of the imagination - it's like an Apple Store, but for custom apparel.

The last word goes to Drew Green.

"It's been a stellar year of profitable growth and we're committed to keep growing the business in a strategic and sustainable way as we offer men around the world personalized clothing at unprecedented value. We've inspired a new way for men to shop by providing a realistic and affordable alternative to ready to wear. I'm inspired every single day by my colleagues in North America and China who have worked tirelessly to build this incredible movement."

You can hear Indochino's Dean Handspiker, VP, Design, Product & Store Development, speak at Future Stores West 2018 this June at the Sheraton Seattle, WA.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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