Partner Dropboxes Scaling Rent the Runway’s ‘Closet in the Cloud’

Rent the Runway (RTR) propelled a fashion rental revolution when it launched its online platform in 2009, providing short-term access to designer apparel at a fraction of its retail cost through dynamic ownership, a concept where consumers choose to subscribe rather than own. Six years later, RTR began opening standalone stores in major markets such as New York and Chicago, laying the foundation for its convenient dropbox network. Dropboxes have been used by companies like FedEx for many years, but what makes RTR’s dropboxes unique is that they enable members to scan their returns to open spots and choose new items immediately.

The most active of RTR’s 9 million members rent clothes over 30% of the year. Their customer data – including 180% year-over-year growth of customers returning directly to stores or dropboxes – revealed a need to better meet the increasing speed of clothing turnover. In response, RTR now has dropboxes at 19 select WeWork locations. The partnership is a natural fit: WeWork’s model of shared office space also embraces the concept of dynamic ownership, making both brands a convenient part of working women’s daily lives. Further, 75% of the clothing that gets shipped to RTR’s Unlimited-level subscribers is business casual.

To capitalize on the trend that rented clothing is becoming a permanent staple in the modern woman’s closet and to better serve both retailers’ core audience of affluent fashionistas, RTR recently added dropboxes to three Nordstrom Locals – a new store concept with limited inventory and a central focus on online orders and pickups – as well as a full-service Nordstrom at L.A.’s The Grove.

Through this symbiotic partnership, Nordstrom Local can now serve as the central destination for customers who need to return their RTR rentals and pick up their online Nordstrom purchases. As women churn through rented clothes faster than ever, RTR’s dropboxes will facilitate faster adoption of dynamic ownership by a valuable and growing audience while ensuring a steady stream of foot traffic to Nordstrom’s new store format. More important to retailers like Nordstrom is that RTR members often make a purchase from brands they rent on the platform. Nordstrom, which sells many of the same brands, is the first retailer positioned to capitalize on these subsequent purchases.  

Brands should anticipate the necessity to serve shoppers in both shared and traditional retail formats. RTR’s dropboxes allow for brands like WeWork and Nordstrom to meet these growing expectations. As RTR plans to scale its vision of dynamic ownership through dropboxes, many will be eager to join forces and receive network benefits. Consequently, expect a Rent the Runway dropbox near you.

Submitted by: Marie Burns, Senior Director of Integrated Commerce, Integer Dallas

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