April 13, 2013
Cincinnati-based Cladwell wants to do for men’s clothes what Amazon’s recommendation engine has done for pretty much everything – that is, make potent and relevant recommendations that are specific to each customer. Given that most guys look at shopping for clothes as a pain, Cladwell knows it is solving a real problem. Based on early testing and research, they may be onto something.
The founders at Cladwell actually spent time and money verifying something that most of us already know – guys do not enjoy shopping for clothes. As cofounder Blake Smith explains, “Guys are not foragers when it comes to clothing, they are hunters. Most guys shop two to four times per year in efficient bursts, then enjoy a lull for a couple months not thinking about buying clothing.”
This is even truer outside major metropolitan areas. So Cladwell is designing a technology-based personal shopper that will help any guy find the right clothes, at the right place, and in the right size – all without having to actually do any shopping. As Smith states, “Guys won’t shop on Cladwell.com – they come to Cladwell so we can do the shopping for them. We see ourselves as an alternative to shopping, not a means of making it more pleasant.”
The starting point for a customer is a carefully crafted Q&A that seeks to learn more about the man than simply what he may be shopping for. The survey tries to identify the style, fit, purpose, and diversity of the man’s ideal and most efficient wardrobe. Once this information is gathered via the website, the data is then put through Cladwell’s proprietary algorithm to determine the unique customer profile that will be used to source clothing.
Next comes the shopping, as Cladwell then searches, finds, and selects a small number of options to present to the customer. All of the recommendations fit within the profile, so that a man willing to spend only $50 on jeans will not be shown a $150 pair. Cladwell is also label- and merchant-agnostic – meaning that there is no backdoor deal with anyone to push certain brands. This is done specifically to ensure that the shopping experience is as pure as possible for the customer. Cladwell intends to make money by selling subscriptions to its service.
With online men’s clothing revenue growing at a 10 percent rate year-over-year recently, there are some competitors in this space that focus on clothes subscriptions (sending items on a monthly basis), niche finds that unearth limited quantities of vintage or designer goods, and new clothes discovery sites that help guys with a strong sense of style find new clothing. As Smith puts it, “These are tools for the guys who already love shopping and know what they like. We are solving the clothing dilemma for those who don’t.”
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