After a successful launch in Israel, the on-demand fashion apparel delivery app Ole is now eyeing a U.S. expansion by setting its sights on New York City.
In Tel Aviv, the “fashion at your doorstep” platform delivers products within an hour and directly from a store. Ole’s brand partners include Balenciaga, Gucci, Levi Strauss & Co. and Birkenstock, among many others.
Here, Gal Aharon, cofounder and chief marketing officer at Ole, explains how the app works and the value proposition for brands as well as for consumers.
WWD: What are the challenges and pain points fashion apparel consumers face in the current omnichannel environment?
Gal Aharon: Deliveries and returns are the most significant burden of fashion e-commerce.
Customers have gotten used to getting everything here and now, yet the delivery of online fashion shopping is lagging behind, and returns are a colossal pain both for customers and retailers. For the end customer, returns are a big hassle, and the refunds take too long, resulting in a bad experience.
On the retailer’s side, it comes with high operational costs, a long leg time to receive the products back, and, of course, it’s bad for the environment. Returns are costing fashion retailers as much as 21 percent of a product’s order value.
The pain of returns ultimately creates waste — financially and environmentally. Studies show that almost 60 percent of online fashion shoppers have kept an online purchase they wanted to return because the return process was too much of a headache; they are willing to do almost anything to avoid it.
Today, delivery and returns are the main obstacles to buying fashion online.
WWD: What was the impetus behind launching Ole?
G.A.: The idea for Ole came from Alon’s [Alon Handelman, cofounder and chief executive officer] wife after a weekend in the city where they ordered Uber Eats. A question was raised on why on-demand deliveries were available in almost every retail sector (groceries, food, pharmaceuticals, etc.) yet average fashion delivery is still three to five days.
The delivery speed is just one factor because in fashion, it’s not only about getting it fast, it’s really about getting what you want (the right size, fit, style, etc.). Yet, on the other hand, returns and exchanges are a huge pain point (the average in the U.S. is 50 percent) both for customers and retailers.
Ole brings a new level of service with on-demand shopping experiences, bridging the gap between online and brick-and-mortar shopping and eliminating the barriers to buying fashion online.
WWD: How does the app work, and how does the fulfillment process work?
G.A.: With Ole, you can order from the best premium fashion stores in the city; our fashion-forward messenger will pick it up from the closest store and deliver the package within 50 minutes. He then waits for the customers to try it out, so they can keep only what they like and immediately return back what they don’t. Our service brings the store experience to the customers’ doorstep (or wherever they are), so they can order multiple items, different sizes and styles, try them out, and only pay for what they like.
Our on-demand services come in our marketplace, where customers can order using Ole’s app. Along with that, Ole’s partners can exclusively offer our VIP delivery services to their website customers as a checkout delivery option.
WWD: What is the value proposition for brands/merchants and for shoppers?
G.A.: The value proposition for merchants includes offering “try at-home,” shortening the return cycle from weeks to one hour, dramatically reducing returns as the customer can find the right size/fit from the multiple items ordered, which results in much more efficient unit economics.
Other benefits include an increase in sales due to the confidence created by the simple returns process, offering 50-minute deliveries, an increase in sales due to new shopping scenarios with on-demand delivery, e.g. buying before an event/holiday while hanging out with friends, etc.
Ole also allows for sending the product back to the store, which results in much more cost-efficient operations than sending it to fulfillment centers. And it is a sustainable operational model of local fulfillment that lowers emissions by 17 to 26 percent. We do this by making every store into a local fulfillment center with deliveries and returns from stores.
The value proposition for customers includes “try at-home,” immediate exchanges and returns, which reduces the barriers to buying online while eliminating the hassle of returning an unwanted item.
Other benefits include allowing shoppers to pay only after trying the product and deciding to keep it. Ole also brings the store experience to the customer’s doorstep. Multiple sizes, different colors and alternative options can be delivered in 50 minutes.
This is “on-demand delivery” for shoppers, which means getting the order on demand to wherever you are. Last-minute shoppers can now get their orders in time for their events, vacations, work trip, etc. Ole also allows shoppers to explore the best shops around a specific location.
WWD: What’s next for Ole?
G.A.: Following great success in Tel Aviv and carrying the leading brands in the city, such as Balenciaga, Golden Goose, ba&sh, Agolde and 100-plus more, we are preparing to launch in New York City — the fashion capital of the U.S.
We are gearing toward the upcoming launch with a mission to provide an amazing shopping experience to New York City clientele.