By Natasha Gupta
At Armoire, we pride ourselves on building a curated clothing rental experience for ambitious women. Our customers are BUSY, and don’t have time for traditional ecommerce shopping–that overwhelming eternal scroll of products–let alone the process of trying on clothes at several traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.
The unlimited choice offered by the retail environment is not only time-consuming, but it can also be anxiety-inducing. Pages of irrelevant options make shopping frustrating, not fun. According to The Decision Lab, “Choice overload, also known as overchoice, choice paralysis, or the paradox of choice, describes how people get overwhelmed when they are presented with a large number of options to choose from…in many cases, research has shown that we have a harder time choosing from a larger array of options.”
To combat the choice overload, our North Star at Armoire is to infuse choice curation into every aspect of our product. Instead of scrolling pages of inventory, we offer a filtered lens that takes into account a member’s fit and style preferences, which they share through a Style Quiz at signup, and in product reviews over time.
That preference data provides us with a strong foundation to inform acute style recommendations. Our customers spend valuable time relaying their clothing reviews, and we have a big responsibility to act on that feedback. For example, if you share with Armoire that you didn’t like the last few shift dresses you tried, we’re going to surface alternative silhouettes that might better work for you. We want to unburden the customer from actively filtering when they’ve given us great data on what works and what doesn’t.
As a result, the Armoire Closet is filled with smart recommendations. The Closet was the first application of this choice efficiency philosophy. It represents the items in our inventory that are most relevant to a member’s preferences–a defined set of choices, guided by style review feedback. Members can further refine the items in the Closet by clothing category, anticipated weather, or specific occasions on the calendar.
The next application of this choice efficiency approach came to life in our community feed, a photo feed of Armoire members wearing rented pieces. The community feed sought to promote style inspiration, and connect members directly to clothing they could rent. The experience decreased the journey from seeing a great look to wearing a great look. We wanted to activate fashion inspiration instead of letting it sit forgotten in your phone screenshots or an old Pinterest board. Seeing a style, wanting a style, and renting a style became a quicker choice with fewer steps.
As demonstrated in the Closet and community feed, we lean into efficiency in our experience, recommending clothes that will best satisfy our members’ fit and style preferences. But our customers sometimes need a specific item that wouldn’t necessarily be a top recommendation in her Closet. For example, one member recently needed a black gown to meet a very specific wedding dress code requirement. Outside of her normal style preferences, it’s not likely that this black gown would be a curated recommendation in her Closet–let alone a smart set of black gowns to choose from.
To date, our experience has relied on Search to help connect members with these specific category items beyond their Closet. And we’ve recently invested in new technology to improve our search results. But Search has felt very akin to traditional ecommerce shopping, reliant on customers getting the right set of keywords to find what they’re looking for. To improve this complementary navigation experience, we set out to create smart categories to mitigate the process of scrolling through search results. Today’s announcement represents the next extension of our choice efficiency approach: Find.
Grounded in customer feedback, Find enables customers to jump directly to the Armoire inventory affiliated with a particular category (dresses, pants, gowns), occasion (Work Casual, Work Formal, Cocktail), or brand. More direct than Search or Closet filter toggling, we’re helping members get to the clothes they need in a streamlined fashion. What’s more, Find gives us another source of customer inputs to inform our recommendations, making that curated Closet even smarter with each session.
Over time, we anticipate getting even smarter about the curation of Find categories, but pledge to avoid the eternal scroll and paradox of choice.