The emergence of new retail distribution models

The rise of e-commerce and the overwhelming power of Amazon are prompting retailers to renew themselves. Each of the contact points encountered in the omnichannel customer journey must be strengthened by eliminating "pain points" and offering new solutions that enrich their experience with the brand.

The Try at home service

Trying on clothes in the dressing room is one of the sticking points for customers in the fashion industry, in addition to the checkout, of course. In winter, when layers of clothing are superimposed on each other, they don't always have the time or inclination to try things on. And when it comes to lingerie, this step is considered essential, even compulsory.

Etam, a major French player in women's fashion on the European and Chinese markets, has addressed this issue by creating the "Try at Home" service. It offers customers the chance to try on a garment ordered online, without having to pay a cent. The customer's account is only debited when she confirms her purchase. It's a sort of fitting room that comes to the home, allowing the customer to take the time to appreciate the garment on her and in excellent conditions!

The phenomenon is not new (Amazon, Zalando, Asos), but it's still very much in its infancy. It is, however, gaining momentum, as it offers advantages both for customers and for the brand.


A real asset for the customer experience

For Etam, this service adds real value to the brand's customer experience. But it also implies even more sophisticated inventory management. What happens if a "Try at Home" customer, who has ordered online, wishes to return an order that doesn't suit her (free of charge if returned within the boutique network)? The store concerned will then be left with additional stock, which it will have to sell off after checking the quality of the product and ensuring that it has been repackaged if necessary.

If the store has a large enough space (the storeroom, for example), and thanks to RFID technology, it can serve as a shipping point (ship-from-store), delivering the item, freshly reconditioned, to a customer who has placed an order online. In this way, Etam is able to offer its customers shorter delivery times thanks to the availability of an item, either from the warehouse stock or from one of its 450 boutiques in France. And for Etam, this interplay between digital and physical product circulation also helps to reduce residual stocks.

It could also happen that the majority of "Try at Home" customers turn to a "best-seller" product. In this case, the warehouse stock could potentially be out of stock. To remedy this situation, Etam's extensive network of boutiques and its ship-from-store service are real added values for the brand. This means that each store has stock available close to its customers, including those who use the "Click & Collect" service.

For Etam, this "3rd stock" is also a mine of information to feed its marketing strategy. This fictitious stock is an over-representation of successful products because, by definition, they have been chosen. Valuable information that will enrich the customer database, much closer to reality than predictive algorithms can offer.

"Try at Home" is currently still being tested, and we expect it to be a great success. Repositioning the store and its network at the center of logistical processes, and as close as possible to the customer, is also a new way of creating real added value in the purchasing process, for the greater satisfaction of resolutely omnichannel customers. After all, logistics in a way guides the choices of customers, who will prefer to buy where the products are in stock, whether in store or on the web.