Too many brands, too many trends, not enough time – and patience to try on all the clothes. These are some of the most typical men’s shopping nightmares, which materialize when a male customer is left on his own in the fitting room of a clothes shop. The co-founder of OUTFITTERY Anna Alex explains how the company solved these problems by offering personalized online shopping for men – and how it thus conquered the hearts of 400,000 male customers in eight European countries.
This is one of the questions you probably get most often, but since it is really interesting – how did you come up with the idea of OUTFITTERY?
My co-founder Julia Bösch and I worked previously in senior positions at the online retailer Zalando. The idea for OUTFITTERY came into our mind in New York. A friend of ours went shopping with a personal shopper. This is common there for successful businessmen. He was fascinated. We started thinking that personal shopping could be interesting also to the Europeans, but we wanted to make it accessible to everyone. This is why we linked personalized service with online shopping.
Was the beginning of OUTFITTERY difficult?
Well, you always need a lot of courage to quit your job and start your own business. That was how I felt, but you need to be optimistic! From the very beginning we had to solve many problems, but we always managed somehow. We have learnt one very important thing: never try to do everything at once. Try to prioritize the problems and then solve them one after another.
What are the biggest challenges of OUTFITTERY?
Most sales are still made in the traditional, stationary trade. Our clear objective is to persuade more men to use OUTFITTERY.
Your motto sounds: ”Your personality defines the outfit, not the latest trend.” Is it true or are the trends important as well?
That depends on the customer. You can do everything but you don't have to! We do not want to impose any trends on our customers – not everyone can or wants to wear anything, and many men feel uncomfortable in Slim Fit Chinos, although these trousers are currently "in". The latest trend is often not the desire of many customers. They prefer clothes that fit their job, their hobby or their lifestyle. That’s why our stylists put together outfits which are tailored to each individual. Our customers can choose from a wide range of options, including many brands in which you can definitely find the latest trends.
So OUTFITTERY suggests some concrete outfits. Don’t you think that you are a very important trendsetter?
Well, in a way yes – our stylists are quasi-individual trendsetters for each customer. They focus on current trends and adapt them to the individual preferences of the customer.
After receiving the box you have 14 days for return or exchange. How about that? Are there many returns?
Well our concept works like this: we present a series of articles to the customer. The best one stays in the wardrobe. The rest can be returned and sent back to us. It’s the same when you go to a shop – you try several things and select the best one. The returns are a part of the business.
More than 300 people are working for OUTFITTERY and your offices are not only in Germany, but also in eight other European countries. Was that a good idea? Are there any other countries planned?
Well, we do not have offices in eight countries, but we sell in eight countries. The headquarters is in Berlin, we also have an office in Düsseldorf, and in May we opened an office in Zürich. So there are three offices. It’s hard to believe, but we have 300 employees including 150 stylists from 30 different countries. We are very proud of our team. Without those people we wouldn’t be where we are right now. And, of course, we want to grow bigger. Our goal is to dress men in the entire Europe, that’s why we already think about other countries.
How about the sales in Germany and other countries – are there any differences?
For sure, there are differences in every country. For example, Dutch clients prefer more colours and a sporty style. The Swedes like black and muted colours. The Swiss, however, love it very chic!
A lot has changed since 2012. Does OUTFITTERY now have big competition?
When we founded OUTFITTERY in 2012, many critics predicted us that the model would appeal only to a small audience and that it had no mass market potential. No way! Four and a half years later we are the market leader in the field of personal shopping in Europe and we have 400,000 customers in eight countries. We have proved how much potential there is in our model. Last year two large corporations have introduced a personal shopping service, so you can say that they “copied” us. Well, for us it was a huge compliment – that shows that the model is good. We are still the pioneers, Curated Shopping is our DNA since 2012 and according to a GfK study conducted last autumn we are by far the best-known and most popular player on the market. Hopefully, this will stay like this.
9. You help men to decide what to wear. Do you think this is the recipe for your success?
With OUTFITTERY our clients don’t have to waste time and don’t get stressed while searching for the perfect outfit. Our typical client is 30 to 40 years old, has a lot to do, and has a family. He has little time for shopping, but he still wants to look good. Out clients get an inspiration for new looks. It often happens that our stylists get some positive feedback from our customers who normally would never take this particular item out of the box, but after trying it on they look great in it.
Each person is individually important to us and this is what our customers appreciate the most!
Anna Alex started after studies her career at Rocket Internet in Berlin. In Zurich Anna headed the IT of a Swiss online company before she fulfilled her dream of owning a business: 2012 together with Anna Julia Bosch she founded OUTFITTERY, a personal shopping service for men. The Start-up has clothed meanwhile more than 400 000 men and is active in eight European countries. OUTFITTERY has established itself as the European leader in the field Curated Shopping and Anna Alex is one of the most famous founders in Germany. In OUTFITTERY she cares especially for the topics products and operations. Her vision is to liberate men from the shopping stress and to make the e-commerce more customer-oriented.
Author: Zofia Wawrzyniak