When a guest signs up with Allume, a new on-demand shopping and stylist service, she is automatically matched to a professional stylist who gets to know her size, style and budget. That stylist is then able to shop for the customer at any store on the web, without restrictions.
This isn't a subscription service with a monthly box of unknown items, as the entire process is a one-on-one service with a stylist before any items are purchased, put in a box and delivered. The shopper can consult via text and email with the stylist. And after the items are received, the shopper is not obligated to buy the clothes, just pay a $20 fee that goes toward the final purchase price.
"Unlike subscription box services where you take an online quiz and then receive a shipment of mystery items, Allume connects you with your own personal shopper who has an introductory consultation to get to know you and then shops the entire Internet to find clothes just for you. Your shopper then creates a virtual Lookbook filled with the items she’s found and you choose what to buy," Allume founder and CEO Mauria Finley told FierceRetail.
Items purchased through Allume are shipped directly from the retailers according to their shipping policies. Favorable shipping and returns policies are critical factors that the company considers when determining which brands to work with.
Finely developed Allume out of her own personal need and based on a need in the marketplace. She has a long history of retail experience, having worked for eBay and serving on the board of Fossil Group.
"On the personal side, I saw the need for a service like Allume mostly when, recently in my career, after selling my last startup to Care.com and joining the board of Fossil Group, I started to face anxiety and angst over finding the right clothing to wear to board meetings. I would stumble into the mall and get lost trying to figure out what was cool and what would make me look good. I’m not a fashion person—I’m a computer science, tech product person at the core and busy too. I just wished I had a stylish 'BFF' who could help shop the web for me and find clothing that would make me feel confident," she said.
And on the professional side, her experience running the lifestyle shopping categories on eBay was focused on figuring out how to beat Amazon, particularly in women's fashion. Her team discovered that Amazon's weak spot was filling the need for curation and discovery.
"We thought building a marketplace that connects expert stylists directly with shoppers for a one-to-one personalized experience to search the entire web on your behalf was the best way to solve that problem and provided a great solution for brands as well who now have a way to reach new customers," Finley said.
Finley says there are three important factors in willing over fashion consumers in 2017. First, it's providing a human, personalized experience.
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"It's the ability to communicate one-on-one via text or email with a real person who 'gets' your body, style preferences and budget and finds you just what you want and need. The kind of service you used to find when shopping in amazing retail stores offline," she said.
Second, it's giving the consumer the choice and control. Finley says that consumers are becoming fatigued with subscription boxes because of the random box of mystery items and the responsibility of returning unwanted items. But Allume gives shoppers the ability to choose what they like before shipment.
Finally, customers want a range of brands and prices.
"The days of being a one-brand shopper are gone," Finley said. "Women love to mix up a variety of brands and a variety of price points. For instance, women might want a great pair of denim with amazing fit, paired with a top-notch shoe brand found on sale, with an on-trend fast-fashion shirt. This ability to shop across a range of brands and price points is important."