At a time when retail brands across the world are closing stores (or going online-only), Reformation, the "cool eco-chic" clothing company founded by Yael Aflalo is thriving.
However, despite skyrocketing sales, the in-store customer experience was bad, basically due to typical retail store complaints: overcrowding, small and unfriendly changing rooms, and not enough personalised attention.
And so Ms. Aflalo went in search of ways to create a high-end, high-volume retail experience. Referring to ideal retail stores such as Apple, she said: “The stores are always so busy, yet they’re always able to maintain a high level of customer experience. The floor isn’t cluttered with boxes of products; there are just a few key items that customers can play around with.”
Today, Reformation’s brick-and-mortar stores are brightly lit and spacious, with a handful of clothing racks lined up. But that's not the trick.
The startup uses hi-tech to make shopping in-store more like shopping online.
The walls are fitted with touchscreen displays, which allow shoppers add an item to their fitting room by requesting it on one of the monitors - or asking a sales associate to scan a bar code with an app on their phones. The shopper's selection then awaits them in the dressing room’s two-way “magic wardrobe".
The wardrobe only opens one way at a time to prevent any potentially embarrassing mishaps when undressed, while the voice of Reformation founder Yael Aflalo breezily informs you to close your wardrobe. She also lets you know when your selected items are safely hung inside.
The fitting rooms are no less techie. They feature phone chargers, speakers, and buttons that let shoppers change the ambient lighting to more flattering tones, as opposed to the usual harsh lighting available in regular changing rooms.
It's not surprising that Reformation ended 2017 with an approximate revenue of $100 million — a fraction of what major brand J.Crew posts in a year - but a huge achievement for a lesser-known brand. It also raised $25 million in a Series B funding round led by Stripes Group, and has grown a celebrity clientele that includes Taylor Swift and Rihanna.
Is Reformation saving retail from its doom? It looks like it.