A "digital wardrobe" app may provide styling or outfit recommendations to consumers within a simple interface.

Retailers and brands considering whether to devote resources into building their own proprietary app, may be best to ask the first question: Does it provide value to the consumer?

With the rise in recent years of the “digital wardrobe” app, newcomers have assumed proper stage in placing value in the palms of their consumers, in a few different ways, and often with a free download.

According to Button’s 2019 mobile commerce report, gleaning Button marketplace data from clients such as SeatGeek and Boxed, “app shoppers outperformed mobile web users across the board” with 14 percent higher conversion in-app than on mobile web.

Gamified value for everyday consumers is created through offering styling or shopping suggestions, calendar-based outfit planning, packing lists, closet clean-out or community influence. In the interface of these emerging apps, assist the customer in their existing wardrobe, then point them to the checkout.

Taking out the guesswork

Categorized as a shopping and lifestyle app, Cladwell aims to help users “get dressed easier” by suggesting full outfits from their existing wardrobe.

The company was cofounded by Blake Smith, chief executive officer, and Erin Flynn, chief marketing officer, who both share a background in fashion tech. They have raised $3.2 million to date with investors such as Science Inc., who have also backed Dollar Shave Club.

Removing indecision for users: “Just this month alone, there have been over 215,000 times someone walked out the door wearing the clothes Cladwell chose for them that day,” Flynn said in a statement to WWD.

Tackling the notion of “a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear,” Flynn reiterated that most people only wear 20 percent of their closet and a majority of Millennials say their home is cluttered.

Cladwell has also partnered notably with Marie Kondo, the Japanese consultant and best-selling author clearing out closets while “sparking joy” in her Netflix hit.

In temperament with the Kondo tidying up era, the most loyal Cladwell users “wear up to 95 percent of their clothes and have an ongoing streak of logged outfits for over 400 days,” according to Flynn.

Rolling out an in-app shopping feature this week, Cladwell users will next be able to follow and shop their friends’ outfits and closets.

Leveraging AI

Entirely bootstrapped and with all media coverage organically earned, Pureple is another player burgeoning the “smart outfit suggestions” app space numbering 2 million app downloads to date and more than 20,000 weekly recurring active users.

Having a robust image library of 15 million images, the app learns more about the user with every “right swipe.” The app features a Tinder-style swipe system for approving or rejecting suggested looks and utilizes artificial intelligence for future selections.

Recently featured in the App Store’s “Ones to Watch,” Pureple’s latest release enables the ability to “auto-populate” clothing attributes by color, material and occasion to further simplify the user experience.

Spending an average of 53 minutes a day on dressing up, Pureple aims to save women “time and money,” and through auto-populated details it may be “easier than ever to build your digital wardrobe,” according to NK Kurt, founder of Pureple.

Rethinking mobile — and the market

Raising $1.5 million from Y Combinator, NBA player-turned-investor Kevin Durant, CRV, SV Angel and others, Curtsy is a shopping app that banks on users wanting to turn their “clothes into cash.”

Effectively joining the resale phenomena, Curtsy differentiates from Poshmark or Depop marketplaces by targeting “casual sellers” and focusing only on women’s clothing.

When asked of the biggest issues plaguing mobile, Curtsy ceo and cofounder David Oates offered that “mobile commerce apps must do a better job of personalization and surfacing relevant content to the customer.”

“Everything from filtering to check-out must be re-thought and adapted to a smaller screen size and limited attention spans,” Oates reiterated.

Creating customer-centric experiences

For many customers, “rediscovering forgotten items in their own wardrobe” may be more valuable than a new purchase.

“The customer has to browse through so many options when mobile shopping, spend less time searching through items you’d never even see and more time deciding on items that are actually curated for the customer,” said Whitney Casey ceo and cofounder of Finery.

Operationalizing $7 million in funding to date, Finery has been featured in WWD’s 40 of Tomorrow as well as CNBC Upstart 100.

And for MeSpoke, a “utilities” app emerging onto the app scene, challenging Instagram’s influencer caste system is with the intention to create greater authenticity in the shopping discovery pathway.

When asked of the greatest barriers to mobile shoppers today, J Spencer, head of partnerships at MeSpoke, the app aiming to make “everyone an influencer” cited difficulty for shoppers to experience authentic product discovery, product recommendations and “recognition and reward from brands and retailers.”

As Spencer summarized, “Shoppers should be at the core of the equation.”

A majority of the digital wardrobe and shopping apps on the market today leverage value adds for consumers such as saving them time, money and in most cases — it means clearing out space and making use of their existing wardrobes. (Not simply pushing product.)

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