Technology incubator Science has been busy in recent months, helping launch companies including EverySignal and TopFloor. Today it announced the launch of Santa Monica, CA-based TripleThread, a push-based commerce platform that connects shoppers with niche boutiques and personal stylists all from the comfort of their home. TripleThread launches today with its own in-house boutique, Fourth and Grand, which allows men to get a personalized monthly box of work clothing for under $100, with the ability to pay only for what they want to keep, and return the rest.
Allen Jones, CEO of both TripleThread and Fourth and Grand, believes that everyone should be able to access the highly personalized experience of shopping at a boutique clothing store. “TripleThread bridges the gap between qualified nationwide shoppers, their favourite local boutiques, and their personal stylists. Today, boutiques face a couple of problems, they’re limited by new customers they can get by physical location, and half of the customers are tourists or kind of just window shoppers,” Jones said in an interview. “That’s offset by shoppers nationwide having problems, depending on where you live you don’t always have accessibility to your favourite boutiques. Say you do have a store you go into, they don’t have a lot of information about you, you’re not a regular, you’re just a number.”
The company strives to tackle those challenges by offering solutions for both sides of the equation. Shoppers can build profiles on TripleThread’s platform, providing a comprehensive overview of what they like, don’t like, how much they spend on clothing, what their favourite brands are, and more. It will then play matchmaker and pair those pre-screened shoppers with partner boutiques that make the most sense for the consumer, while also connecting them with a personal stylist. From there, an iOS app helps the two parties connect, with the stylist ultimately sending the customer their first personalized collection of clothing and accessories.
Customers don’t have to pay anything up front, instead once they receive the items, they have the option to keep what they want and return the rest. Only once the package is received back at the store does the customer get billed for what they decide to keep. TripleThread looks after all the marketing and shipping costs for its boutique partners, and then splits the revenue on any items sold (the fee varies from boutique to boutique).
“What ecommerce has done and giant retail stores have done is they’ve taken that personalization away that people want in life. So what we’re able to do with this experience is maintain that level of personalization that a customer will get if they walk in their door but they know way more about the customer, and the customer knows more about the person helping them, so we’re enhancing the overall experience,” Jones added.
The personalization of online shopping is a big trend in 2012, with companies like Shoedazzle, JustFab and the Beachmint suite of companies focusing on style profiles to recommend hand-picked items for shoppers. There are also subscription sites like LE TOTE, which reached 10,000 users this week, and lets users pay $49 per month to receive unlimited ‘Totes’ filled with clothing and accessories (currently it only rents out the items, though they will be adding the ability to purchase down the line). Other fashion resale marketplaces like Copious are enabling a personalized shopping experience by tapping into a customer’s social graph, and learning preferences based on their shopping patterns. TripleThread’s main advantage lies in being able to benefit boutiques wanting to make their items available online, similar to startups like Shopcastr but with a layer of personalization.
The company is currently in talks with fashion boutiques in Los Angeles, and will be looking to announce partners by the end of the year. From there it will look to expand the network of boutiques to other fashion-centric cities like Miami and New York. With the company looking to lock down deals with well-known boutiques in major fashion capitals, it could very well be a service customers from around the U.S. turn to for personalized fashion delivered to their door. At the very least, it can use Fourth and Grand as a testing ground for its subscription commerce platform, and see how personalization affects shopping habits.