Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Repeat Business and Human Nature

How do you keep customers coming back?  For some fortunate companies that produce essential products, provide necessary services, or have long-term institutional clients, this may not be such a front-of-mind issue.  But for the rest, how do you build customer loyalty?

One company, with which I have recent personal experience, has seemingly mastered the art of capturing repeat business.  StitchFix, a five-year-old fashion startup, is a subscription service that, for a $20 styling fee, sends each customer a box of five hand-picked, curated clothing or accessory items based on the customer’s answers to a detailed style profile. If you keep all five items, you get a 25% discount on the entire “Fix” (as StitchFix refers to each box), and if you even just keep one, your $20 styling fee is credited towards that purchase.

Over the past three years, I’ve received about six or seven Fixes.  I’ve never kept more than two things from any one Fix, and a few times I’ve even sent back the whole Fix—never mind the fact that I “lost” my $20 styling fee.  Sometimes the items didn’t fit, weren’t my style, or were too similar to something I already owned.  By most standards, this isn’t a great track record.  But…I have to admit that I will probably order another Fix sooner or later.

Why do I keep coming back?  Because, among other things, StitchFix has managed to evaluate and respond to what its customers want.  First, it indulges a desire to have something bespoke.  Fashion used to be personalized such that each article had to be tailored to fit the particular body for which it was meant.  For better or worse, most of us can’t afford bespoke clothing or shoes anymore, so a service like this plays to the wish for more personalization.  Second, it serves as a much-needed filter for today’s information overload—as a customer, I can rest assured that, within the parameters I set in my style profile, StitchFix will send me up-to-date pieces that I may have found only after hours of searching.  Third, and perhaps most addictively (if I may use that word), it taps into our hankering for the pleasant surprise.  For me, this third reason is actually the most powerful of the three—it’s fun to anticipate getting that box! 

So, at least as far as I’m concerned, StitchFix’s algorithm for repeat business is working, because even in light of several “failed” Fixes, I am still willing to go back and try again.  As an entrepreneur, you are probably already clued in to what your customers need.  But the key to generating repeat business may require investigating human nature to find what your customers want.

1 comment :

  1. There has to be a certain attractive factor that lures customers on a consistent manner. Even if you are selling a product or a service that is mainstream and easily available anywhere else, you can still get loyal customers by being unique. Throw in a package or two in order to stand out against other competitors around you.