Case Study: Portland Retailer Reaches New Customers with At-Home Try-On

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Merchant: EcoVibe Apparel
Location: Portland, Oregon
Platforms: Dorrbell, Facebook, Instagram, Mailchimp
Bottom Line: Partnering with a hyperlocal delivery service can help brick-and-mortar retailers attract customers who would otherwise shop online.

Shopping online tends to be faster and more convenient than making purchases in-store, but when it comes to buying clothing, specifically, the inability to try-on items has always been a major drawback. EcoVibe Apparel seems to have found a way around the challenge. The Portland-based retailer is working with a hyperlocal startup called Dorrbell and giving local shoppers a way to try on items from the comfort of their homes.

“Customers go online and choose products they would like to try on, they then schedule a time for them to be dropped off. On our end, we receive a notification that a new order has been placed, we then pull the product from the floor and confirm that we have it. We also have the opportunity to add additional sizes and items that we think the customer would like,” says Chelsea Mettille, marketing manager at EcoVibe.

Once customers have tried on their clothes, they can either purchase them or send them back, and a Dorrbell associate will drop the items off at EcoVibe’s downtown store. In exchange for the service, Mettille says EcoVibe pays Dorrbell a fee of “less than 20%” from each sale.

“[It’s] much less than other partner sites we have sold on,” she says.

In addition to making it easier for shoppers to try-on clothes without coming into the store, Mettille says Dorrbell has helped her business reach an entirely new customer base, making the platform a tool for local customer acquisition and retention.

“We have seen at least a couple of sales each week since we started,” she says. “The nice thing is that since we can usually add-on items, the price per transaction is greater than a typical online sale and we are building our customer base at the same time.”

Mettille believes that Dorrbell has helped EcoVibe reach a more “tech savvy customer,” which the store was previously missing, and says Portland is a great place for a local business to use a unique service like this.

“A huge portion of our business is from people travelling through the city,” Mettille says. “We see it all the time where someone from across the country will come in, buy an item, go home and order three more of the item through our website.”

In the past few years, EcoVibe has “amped up” its online presence through social media, travel websites, and local publications. Mettille says she frequently showcases new products, events, and sales through email and social media, with the goal of driving customers to EcoVibe’s physical location and online store. The store has also partnered with well-known stylists and bloggers to gain attention from a wider audience.

“In our neighborhood, we often have block party events where we all come together, host sales, and provide entertainment,” Mettille says. “EcoVibe Apparel also participates in trunk shows, collective sales, and collaborative fashion shows.”

Social media has proven to be an effective—and free—way for EcoVibe to generate sales, as well.

“We constantly have customers coming in looking for a specific item they saw on Instagram or Facebook or an e-mail blast,” she says. “We are also constantly engaging with people in the area who may have never heard of us but see our page and fall in love with our clothing. We love how prominent social media has become in retail because it lets us express who we are as a brand and build relationships with customers, new and old.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.