Retail technology start-up Your Style Unzipped is getting ready to beta-test its shopping discovery platform in September, while it starts its next round of fund-raising.
Susan Bruch, founder and chief executive officer, said, “We raised $500,000, a funding round to get us prelaunched. We are now raising the next round, and are hoping to raise $1.5 million.”
Bruch said the raise will be an extension of the seed round. She’s not talking yet to venture capitalists, but is connecting instead with individuals referred to in the start-up community as angel investors.
Her start-up, which includes mobile app ZipShop, enables users to browse inventory and see what’s available in a store on the platform by zip code or location. The user has the option of going to the store to try on a selection before deciding to purchase. The platform also allows one to place an item “on hold,” purchase online for in-store pickup, and in some cases arrange for delivery. Content on the platform includes branded videos and editorial content showcasing the items that can be purchased and retrieved on-demand.
Essentially it’s meant as a time-saver so consumers can check a store’s inventory before going to the retailer, and if one store doesn’t have a particular color or style, allow the user to learn about another retailer nearby that does have it in stock. The idea works in theory, but whether that can work on Bruch’s platform will depend on how many retailers she can sign up and how fast the platform can ramp up.
Many major retailers, such as Macy’s Inc. or Home Depot Inc., already allow consumers to see which nearby store location has an item in its inventory, but that option is generally not available for the smaller shops or boutiques. While consumers can still get the same information on their own, they will have to spend time checking the site of each brand or retailer to get that information, provided it’s available. She also distinguishes her platform from online boutique locator Shoptiques.com, noting that it doesn’t “connect products to specific locations by zip code.”
Bruch said the beta test will focus on six geographic areas: Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Nashville, Santa Monica and Manhattan’s SoHo district in New York. She added that she’s in the process of onboarding between 10 and 14 retailers for each market.