In the age of e-commerce, retailers and brands are exploring new ways to entice customers to shop in person. Bonobos, the e-commerce menswear brand known for its tailored cuts and slightly preppy vibe, has developed a concept that combines the benefits of brick-and-mortar shopping with the convenience of buying online. Its “Guideshop” is a showroom-like storefront that allows shoppers to try on goods in person. The catch: Customers can’t take the merchandise with them. Instead, the order is sent directly to the customer in three to five business days. The brand’s latest Guideshop opened today within the North Loop’s newly renovated warehouse, the Washington (formerly known as the Sex World building).
Here’s how it works:
- Shoppers book an appointment with a “Guide” (i.e., a personal fashion consultant). While walk-ins are accepted, appointments are suggested for busy days such as weekends.
- The Guide walks the customer through the entire Bonobos assortment, and learn about the customer’s preferences.
- Fit is key for the Bonobos brand, which was founded upon the idea of creating a better-fitting pant. The Guide helps the customer find the proper fit, from pants—available in up to four fits, including tailored, slim, athletic, and straight—suiting, and shirts. Prices range from $100 and $200 for pants and jeans, with dress shirts starting at $98 and suits ranging from $550 to $1,300—a good match for the spending power of North Loop’s residents.
- Fit preferences and sizes are recorded in the brand’s online directory. Unlike many retailers, which have separate systems for online and in-store shopping, Bonobos’ system is streamlined—customers are able to utilize the same information as the Guideshops Guides, so if they want to reorder a shirt in a different color, their shopping history and preferences are easily accessible.
- A Guide places the order and it will be shipped for free directly to the customer’s home, office, or their local Guideshop.
In practice, the service worked smoothly and efficiently when I was invited to preview the experience earlier this week—a big plus for most guys, who don’t necessarily enjoy shopping, and want to get in and out as quickly as possible. If convenience is your goal, Bonobos is for you. Though it does offer a few distinct, fashion-forward pieces, the brand emphasizes the kinds of basics that would be a great addition to any guy’s wardrobe, so long as that guy is fairly traditional yet appreciates a modern fit. If you prefer drop-crotch joggers and oversized t-shirts to a more tailored look, you may want to look elsewhere.
By blending technology, an in-store shopping experience, and heightened customer service, Bonobos just may be on to something. Only time will tell whether the men of Minneapolis will go for the unconventional idea, especially when they can shop at nearby stores such as MartinPatrick3 and Askov Finlayson and leave with goods in hand.
images Courtesy Bonobos