Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway is giving customers instant gratification with same-day delivery service in New York.

Jennifer Hyman, cofounder and chief executive officer of Rent the Runway, said she wanted to take on Amazon Prime Wardrobe and Net-a-porter with the new service, but admitted the real threat to her site is fast fashion and retailers such as Zara.

“Realistically, no one is taking on Amazon. They provide a very different service,” Hyman said. “Eventually, they’ll offer Prime Now [two-hour free delivery, one-hour for $7.95] for apparel. We’re renting and can deliver a diversity of items at a very low price point.”

Same-day styles start at $30 and come with a free backup size to ensure the best fit. A second, back-up style can be added for $32.50.

“Our new same-day delivery is really competing against fast fashion,” Hyman said. “Zara has many stores convenient to where young women work. The clothes look good and trendy. Fast fashion has always been a formidable competitor of department stores. This behavior is happening.

“The fashion industry is naive to think that fast fashion is [only] for young people. The access to copycat fashion or off-price is a behavior that’s happening with H&M, Forever 21, T.J. Maxx, Gilt Groupe and Off Fifth,” Hyman said. “We’re offering an alternative to Zara with designer fashion. We’ll be a seamless and easier experience. We have 300,000 high-quality, super-trend-driven items with cheaper price points in our inventory.”

With 500 brands, including the top 5 percent of Parisian brands, Rent the Runway’s assortment is similar to Neiman Marcus and Net-a-porter. “Customers don’t decide to rent something based on the brand. They want to try new brands or a new style,” Hyman said, adding that many clients use Rent the Runway to experiment and step out of their comfort zone with collections from designers such as Tanya Taylor and Prabal Gurung.

“We’ll fast-follow the same-day delivery launch in cities across the U.S.,” Hyman said. “We’ll definitely be in the cities where we have stores. Besides New York, locations include Chicago, Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

As far as opening more stores, Hyman repeated what she said in December: “We’re going after the top 15 cities in the U.S. Sure, we’ll go international. Obviously, the business — the closet on rotation is applicable to customers all over the world.”

Rent the Runway’s same-day delivery service offers expedited shipping without increasing costs or cutting into wear-time, with rentals of four and eight days. Customers pay the same price as standard shipping for rushed orders, $9.95, while Rent the Runway Pro members, who pay $29.95 annually, receive free delivery. Orders, which take about 30 seconds to book, must be placed by noon to be received by 5 p.m.

“When we innovate at Rent the Runway, we try to build products that customers have shown they want,” Hyman said, noting that 30 percent of orders placed at the six brick-and-mortar locations are for same-day wear, demonstrating the demand from consumers for expedited delivery.

“We’re catering to a generation that values access over ownership,” Hyman added. “Same-day delivery is a more sustainable alternative to the outright purchase of products. It’s the next step in attaining the closet-less future. We’re doing on-demand frictionless delivery via couriers on bikes or in cars and consumers have full transparency to track their orders. Customers also receive live mobile updates and have full control to adjust the rental delivery window.”

The same-day service was launched to help clients with wardrobe malfunctions and last-minute invitations. “If they make a decision in the morning to go to an event or on a date, they don’t want that investment [in fashion]. It’s not part of their plan and their social lives any more,” Hyman said. “It’s just like their food — they want it delivered.”

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