Here's How Le Tote Uses Data to Deliver Personalized Fashion-Rental Experiences

It’s been dubbed the “Netflix of Fashion”, and indeed, much like the seemingly unstoppable growth of everyone’s favorite movie-streaming service, women’s fashion subscription box Le Tote is gaining traction fast.

In 2016, the company boasted 500% year-over-year growth, fueled in no small part by an impressive 94% customer retention rate. What’s more, with 15x revenue growth over the last two years, and $500 million worth of apparel and accessories shipped to subscribers in 2016 alone, the company’s rapid growth trajectory is only set to continue as it profits off the ever-increasing popularity of online subscriptions.

Operating on a monthly fee – ranging from $39 to $69 – the fashion rental service sends its customers a customized box of clothing and fashion accessories that they can wear as much as they like, and then send back at the end of month for a new selection. In this way, customers can keep up with the latest fashion trends, don the latest outfits and frills, and all without the expense of having to continuously overhaul their closets.

This is made particularly appealing through the company’s maternity division, which relieves the frustration many women face of having to spend money on new clothes during pregnancy which will only be able to be worn for a short period of time.

A Personalized Rental Experience

But for the expecting and non-expecting alike, Le Tote provides a low-cost service that is built on personalization. When first signing-up, users are asked to fill out a customer profile, where they are able to select styles and items they like from the wide range of brands Le Tote has on offer. This creates the shopper’s first “tote” – however, each member is then prompted to customize it and sub out any items they don’t like before the box is shipped. This, says Lauren Miller, VP of Marketing at Le Tote, is important to get the personalization right for members at the outset.

“Our goal is to provide a personalized rental experience where women can access really great brands,” Miller explains. “We want our customer to make the final edit, see the final tote we create for them and swap out anything she doesn’t want.”

Meet Chloe – The Algorithm Removing the Guesswork

This highly-personalized business model has some highly-powered technology behind it. Although the company wants to give its customers the opportunity to make the final edit of their totes if they wish, Le Tote has a special algorithm on the backend that makes its recommendations and overall digital experience as personalized as possible.

The algorithm (named Chloe) processes large reams of data produced by each customer as they interact with Le Tote online and on mobile. Analyzing everything from sizing to order history to favorited items, Chloe is able to predict which products customers are most likely to be interested in each month. “Chloe is our algorithm,” says Miller. “She is what takes all of our customer data, all of our brand data, puts it all together and hopefully it is delightful. We are improving that experience every time. So your first tote is going to be different than your last tote.”

Chloe even manages to solve the sorts of sizing problems that can often occur when shopping across different brands. It’s not unusual for someone to be one size in one brand and a completely different size in another. But Chloe has this covered, picking out the correct size for each customer from the more than 150 brands stocked by Le Tote.

Even so, ensuring the right fit every time is not a given. But Le Tote takes steps to collect as much data as possible to remove the guesswork. As Ruth Hartman, Le Tote's chief merchandising officer, explains: "If something doesn't fit [the customer], we ask them where it doesn't fit. If it's too tight in the bust, if it's too loose, if it would be fine if they had another four extra inches — all these different attributes. What we try to do is take the guesswork out of the sizing component."

Customization at the Core

Personalization is an ongoing endeavor for Le Tote. Indeed, it’s one of the company’s biggest themes, and the attention to detail is remarkable. In fact, it’s not just the analysis of customer feedback, order history and style preferences that goes into producing customized tote recommendations, but a whole host of external factors as well.

"We can also look at geography and what's popular in your city and your region,” says Hartman. “We can account for your local weather forecast. Your shipping zip code is used to help recommend products, so we can look at what your weather is going to be like for the next 10 to 12 days.”

It’s in-depth, customer-focused innovations like this that are undoubtedly contributing to Le Tote’s rapidly growing popularity and almost immaculate customer retention rate. And if the company can continue to convince women that it can choose the right clothes in the right size for the right occasion in the right place at the right time of year, then its accelerating growth trajectory is surely only set to continue.

The last word goes to Rakesh Tondon, Le Tote Co-Founder and CEO. “We’ve always let feedback from our customers inform and guide our growth strategy. Our customer base is spread across 48 states and there is no one-size-fits-all fashion solution. With that in mind, customization is at the core of what we do. We are not an event-based, ad-hoc service. Nor are we a splurge. Instead we strive to be an integrated and affordable part of your everyday wardrobe. Knowing that our members’ needs and budgets are diverse, we want to ensure that everyone has an option that works for them.”

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