Stitch Fix creates an army of brand advocates, one social share at a time

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When it comes to brands, I’m a loyalist. Walt Disney World, Wegmans Food Markets, Coca-Cola—once you woo me, you have a customer for life.

That’s exactly what subscription clothing company Stitch Fix has done, winning me over and creating a passionate and vocal brand advocate, through a savvy understanding of their customers, intelligent use of social media and the ability to respond sometimes within minutes to customer concerns. I dare say that Stitch Fix has replaced Zappos in as my No. 1 customer-service sweetheart, and that’s a feat I didn’t think was possible.

A beautiful business model

Founded in 2011, Stitch Fix delivers a box of five clothing and/or accessories to each customer once a month for a $20 styling fee at a price threshold that fits their budget. Items are chosen for each woman based on an individualized style profile, which includes the option to share all of her social media profiles. In addition, users can leave a personal note for their “stylist,” asking for items for a special occasion or specific need (a wedding, summertime calls for new shorts). Once the package is delivered, the consumer tries on the items, and has three days to decide what to keep.

If she keeps every item, a bulk discount of 25 percent is applied to the total purchase, as is the styling fee. Otherwise, she pays full price for each item she keeps and mails the rest back in a pre-paid mailer. You are encouraged to leave very specific feedback on each item, so the stylists get to know you and you preferences over time.

An army of brand advocates

By embracing social media and leveraging networks that rely heavily on user images, Stitch Fix created an army of loyalists. Each customer gets a personlized referral link for sharing, and receives a $25 credit for each friend they convert to a customer.

Literally hundreds of women are aggressively sharing photos and reviews of the items they receive, along with the referral link, creating a self-perpetuating ecosystem of customer acquisition with little to no cost.

But the ladies keep it real, sharing the good along with the bad in every review. Even the negative feeds back into the brand, with authenticity coming through loud and clear. Social customer service done right
I’ve been a subscriber for six months and five of those months, I bought each and every piece. Then, I asked my personal stylist for a box filled with items for a professional conference and it totally missed the mark. Within 90 minutes of contacting the brand via email and social, I had a replacement box on the way at no additional cost. The new box was a perfect match for me and my lifestyle. All of this happened in less than 24-hours, with a responsiveness I have rarely experienced even at a retail location, with the possible exception of Nordstrom.   

Lessons for retailers

Stitch Fix takes into account each and every opportunity to improve the customer relationship. Not only is the brand uber-responsive on social, they add a personal note to each and every box they send. The stylists take time to understand who it is they are shopping for, taking into account all of the factors that might go into what they choose to purchase.

At many brick-and-mortar stores, I can’t even return an item purchased online in store even as they boast about their omni-channel capabilities. One brand, which shall remain nameless, even issued me a paper gift certificate for my web-to-store return, a document I had to wait almost four weeks to receive. Retailers would be smart to take a page from more modern brands that understand not only how customers shop, but also how they live.

Amy Hatch
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November 17, 2015
Amy Hatch

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