Clothes shopping remodelled

Yesterday saw the launch of our new Remodelling Business event… which was also our first event at the wonderfully bright and mind-freeing event space at our new home WorkspaceHub.  

For people who have attended our coffee mornings, the format will be familiar – relaxed, non-salesy networking (now with added 4th floor terrace with amazing views over Leeds – pics below), free food and drink (an excellent lunch provided by Grub and Grog), and a fully interactive event! We used our tried and tested rapid analysis process to help our guests get to the root of the problems and new solutions, as we do each month at the coffee mornings – and indeed as we do for all our client projects!

Catching some rays on the roof terrace

That aside, Remodelling Business is very different. Instead of starting by crowd-sourcing ideas for an app, this time we are setting our sights on business models, using the combined opinions and imaginations of our brilliant attendees to highlight the issues and try and produce some new niche new alternatives. For our first trial, we decided to focus on Clothes Shopping, something everyone has to do fairly regularly, and which seemed to be a good starting point for a conversation.

For future events, we plan on having a representative from a sector relevant to the target business model, there to challenge and be challenged on what can and can’t be changed – a scapegoat in fact! So, did it work?

Well, we ran out of time just before the last part of our process, assigning ‘phases’ to deliver what we’d found… but apart from that, it went brilliantly! We had input from pretty much everyone in attendance, and came up with 3 new niche business models – or paradigms if you like older words.

Issues & Goals

The bulk of the issues that were identified were concerned with two areas – firstly, the breakdown in process between online and high street shopping, and secondly, the need to gain confidence in what you are buying in terms of fit, style, size, material… everything that basically drives the need for you to actually try on your new clothes!

The goals identified for the new business models therefore were:

  1. An easier, more enjoyable shopping experience – online and offline

  2. Increased buyer confidence

All manner of potential new business models were suggested, but three seemed to capture the imagination of most people in the room:


Changing Room Stores

If shoppers are willing to compromise on one key element of shopping – the desire to walk away there and then with what they had bought – then shops could remove the need for a standard footprint of store. Instead of the need to keep multiple versions of every size of every item in their warehouse, stores would keep one of each size, stored more effectively – removed from packaging and tags – in order for shoppers to try on. Add into this the technology – both app based and in store – for shoppers to digitally find and request items to try on in store, and you have something that starts to look very different from a high street store.

Once the confidence in your purchase was high enough for you to buy, the product could then be shipped to whatever location you require within two hours.  Home, office, or the store itself. It was agreed that there are two types of shoppers, those who buy to wear that day and those who buy for later… and this delivery model hopes to serve both types.  In addition, this breaks the cycle of ordering online, taking delivery, trying on and returning – which can be frustrating and is murder for the environment!

The changing of the footprint for the shop itself also opens up the opportunity for different clothes shopping experiences. Why not enjoy the drinking version, where you browse clothes using a tablet at the before trying on… or the restaurant version, where you try on clothes between courses?  The bowling version, the cinema version…?


Virtual Clothes 

This was by far the most future thinking suggestion.  Instead of trying on different clothes items, shoppers slip into ‘green screen’ clothes.  Selecting outfits from a digitally interface then maps the clothes onto you visually in the interactive touchscreen mirror. Cycle variants of fabrics, trim… add accessories to your taste.

When you are ready, click buy and the clothes are manufactured to spec – exactly to your digitally captured size – and shipped to you with a few days/hours.  The potential for this to work hand in hand with 3D printing technologies is clear!


3D Clothes Building

One gripe our attendees had (and me included) was the idea that over 200 years ago we nailed clothes sizes… by which we mean that our clothes USED TO FIT EXACTLY, because we were measured to fit and the clothes were made to fit.  As we moved to off the shelf clothing, clothes sizes became more and more blurry, until we are in a position where entire stores have a size profile (eg Top Man sizes are smaller, Debenhams are more forgiving…)

Rather than accepting this, it would be great if consumers could push back on retailers to make their sizes more accurate.  In the interim, and to help drive this, a suggestion was made for a kind of ‘middleware’ for sizing, in the form of an app or other technology to help shoppers take super accurate measurements at home.  Once this size profile was captured, it could be applied to clothes purchased online to see which ‘shop’ sizes actually fit your real sizes.

Honourable Mention… 

goes to the suggesting that ‘big data’ on returns could be used to automatically generate size profiles based on feedback from returners, and help shoppers purchase from online stores with greater confidence – and reduce returns!

As we said at the start of the event, we don’t propose to solve every problem – business models are generally massive things, with multiple different variants across the world. However, we definitely achieved our goal of suggesting some new niches that felt a lot more like something our participants would want to use!  And when these ideas pop-up on the high street (or the app stores), and some of them may already be in development or testing, then we can happily say that a room of people came up with the same idea… whilst eating sandwiches!

Our next Remodelling Business event is taking place on Thursday 15th June, again in the amazing events space at WorkspaceHub.  We’d love to see you there (you can sign up here), and we’ll be announcing our topic and our first ‘scapegoat’ within the next few weeks.