Building Your Brand From a College Dorm: The ModCloth Success Story

modcloth logoWe all know that the best way to build your brand online is to engage with your customers. At ModCloth, customer engagement and interaction brought a college dorm room business to a thriving online store now making $100 million per year. ModCloth connects with their customers not just through social media, but through interactive elements that encourage customers to submit designs, give feedback on potential pieces, and upload photos of themselves wearing ModCloth clothing.

The ModCloth Story

Launched in 2002, ModCloth has seen exceptional growth since founders Susan and Eric Koger began selling vintage finds out of Susan’s college dorm room. ModCloth quickly became more of a community than a fashion retailer, and in 2005 they moved from selling just vintage clothing to original designs with a retro feel. When Susan graduated college in 2006, she went full-time into expanding the company. ModCloth now has over 450 full-time employees, and over the past year, they reported 40% growth and reached the $100 million mark in annual sales.

What They’re Doing Right

As CEO Eric Koger states, “We know our customers exceptionally well.” The success of ModCloth has come about because of their level of customer engagement on their website, social media networks, and mobile apps.

First, their Make the Cut program allows ModCloth customers to submit their own clothing designs to be voted on by the community. The piece that wins will be sold by ModCloth, and the designer is awarded a cash prize. Another popular ModCloth program is Be the Buyer.

Be the Buyer provides customers with a slideshow of potential designs and their price. The customer can add feedback and select whether they would “pick” or “skip” the design. ModCloth also engages through their Style Gallery.

In the Style Gallery, the ModCloth community can submit photos of themselves in ModCloth clothing or ModCloth-inspired outfits, which can be liked as well as shared on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

Along with these features, ModCloth also has an active blog with multiple fashion related categories and regular columns. Video content on the blog gives customers access to behind-the-scenes content as well as interviews. Much of ModCloth’s success comes from their mobile apps. 42% of the total visits to ModCloth come from mobile views, which has grown from just 27% at the beginning of 2013. The ModCloth app enables users to shop, view collections, see new arrivals, and submit to the style gallery. Furthermore, ModCloth is extremely connected to their community on social media networks. They have over 2 million followers on Pinterest along with huge followings on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram. ModCloth’s success has been entirely dependent upon the creation of a community and brand loyalty through creative customer engagement.

How has your brand creatively engaged with customers?

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Elizabeth K

Elizabeth Kent is a recent graduate with an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Brandeis University. She earned her B.A. from Smith College with a major in the Study of Women and Gender and a minor in Jewish Studies. Elizabeth recently relocated from the Boston area back to Western Massachusetts, where she spends her free time volunteering with a local non-profit organization. Elizabeth has worked as a writing tutor, archival intern, research assistant, and retail associate. Her interests include studying pop culture, kittens, and making meals with as little cooking as possible.

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