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ModCloth asks customers to "be the buyer"


A retailer’s primary role may be that of curator and tastemaker, but that doesn’t mean that the crowds can’t pitch in to help. Online indie clothing retailer ModCloth asks its customers to help choose which items to take into production. ModCloth launched its Be the Buyer initiative two weeks ago. The voting process is reminiscent of t-shirt purveyor Threadless. But whereas t-shirts are almost a commodity from a manufacturing point of view, ModCloth sells dresses, shirts, jackets and skirts that are more complicated to produce. Which is where the virtual buyers come in. As ModCloth explains: “sometimes there are designs that we absolutely adore, but the designer can only put them into production if they make a large quantity. As a small company, it’s difficult for us to make these big inventory commitments without knowing if you will love the designs as much as we do.” ModCloth’s fans currently have 61 designs to vote on. They’re encouraged to add comments on each design, and to share their voting decisions on Facebook and Twitter, turning the voting process into a useful marketing tool for ModCloth. If a design is taken into production, customers who voted for it receive an email notification as soon as it’s available, allowing them to be the first to buy and wear it. Winning designs will normally be for sale a few weeks after voting ends. While the concept won’t work for every retailer or manufacturer, it’s definitely one that many could benefit from, both by making customers feel more involved and by taking some of the guesswork out of buying decisions. (Related: Furniture shopping with the crowds.) Spotted by: Margarita Barry



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