Nau, an eco-friendly retailer of high-end outdoor clothing has softly launched Changing Room, a layaway plan for the internet age. Changing Room enables customers to pay half of an item’s full retail price on the spot, while completing the remainder of the purchase after 30 days. This is not necessarily a sustainable practice but it appears to be an innovative way to reach new markets and that is why we thought it was worth highlighting.
Nau’s online program was created so the retailer could expand their reach to access customers that may otherwise hesitate to purchase a $200 plus jacket they don’t have the opportunity to try on. If a customer doesn’t return the item after 30 days, his credit card is automatically charged. All returns within 30 days receive full credit for all costs incurred. Of course there are risks of fraud, but the company seems confident that once customers wear their clothes, they will not want to return them. Nau CEO Gordon Seabury explains that the company’s “sustainability and recycled material branding attract a socially responsible customer base.” “We’re hoping most people will be good and [fraud] won’t be a problem,” Seabury says. Read the full story in the Wall Street Journal here.
We have been talking about innovation as a means to increase revenue and Nau’s Changing Room seems to be an interesting example of creating new opportunities to remain competitive. Clearly this program is not about enhancing the environment, although the company uses environmentally friendly fabrics and has an eco-friendly reputation. Changing Room’s mission is not to find new opportunities to reduce waste or reduce your carbon footprint, but it is significant for the creative way the company is attempting to drive revenue.
Innovation is a broad term and one of its simpler definitions is that it is specifically about creativity that has value. The Fashion industry has been talked about as a model for innovation as it has to reinvent its product line and brand every season, otherwise it risks failure. Given the current economic climate, it seems that most businesses could benefit from learning about and implementing creative ways to add value. If you know of any examples, we’d love to hear them.