Since the beginnings of ecommerce, virtual retailers have been looking to disrupt and unseat their bricks-and-mortar predecessors. TripleThread, an ecommerce platform startup launching today out of Santa Monica technology studio Science Inc., is taking an entirely different approach. While it began as a online personalized styling service for men, the startup quickly realized that the technology platform it had built fills an enormous need for offline boutiques. Rather than attempting to disrupt retailers, it now hopes to bring them new business.
By their very nature, bricks-and-mortar retailers are geographically limited in reaching new customers. In part due to this fact, the average retail salesperson is utilized only 40 percent of the time they’re on the sales floor. TripleThread addresses this in two ways. First, the startup offers techno-phobic boutiques a plug-and-play, full-featured ecommerce and personalized styling platform. Second, and franky more importantly, it drives highly targeted new customers from around the world to these retailers.
“We are giving brick and mortar retailers an entirely new revenue channel that is 100 percent additive,” says founder and CEO Allan Jones. “Retailers make no sacrifices to existing business nor are they forced to offer discounts to move items.”
TripleThread uses a combination of online customer acquisition strategies, including Facebook, Google AdWords, and display advertising to identify customers and then qualifies them through a customized style quiz. The quiz considers 20-plus data points gathered from a visual style questionnaire, past shopping habits, and brand preferences.
Retail staff at the company’s boutique partners then create customized apparel and accessory collections for each individual customer. This model in and of itself is not unique to TripleThread. It’s employed by dozens of other ecommerce startups. In the world of offline boutiques, however, it’s largely unheard of.
According to the founder, the customers identified by TripleThread have been five times more likely to purchase the items curated for them than everyday walk-in boutique shoppers. One explanation for this is that the customers have been pre-selected for purchase intent as part of the acquisition process. Another, is that TripleThread gives many of the customers access to elite brand name boutiques to which they would otherwise not have access.
The platform-maker fronts the costs of customer acquisition and order fulfillment, taking a revenue share on each sale. For this reason, the company plans to be highly selective in the retailers it works with, and expects to lean heavily toward the ultra-premium market initially.
TripleThread’s is unique among fashion tech startups in that is product is “extremely disruptive, while still enhancing rather than damaging the existing retailer market,” says the company’s CEO.
Fourth and Grand is the first “partner” to use the TripleThread technology, but the company claims to be working with multiple national retailers that it expects to announce publicly within 30 days. The 11 person team behind TripleThread and Fourth and Grand is split evenly between product and styling.
Sales, as the say, is a zero sum game. Consumers, by and large, have a finite amount of spending power, and when sales happen online, they in turn do not happen offline. TripleThread’s platform plus proprietary boutique strategy positions the company uniquely to profit from sales in both verticals.