If video can kill a radio star, what will social media do to a fashion buyer? Moxsie, an online designer boutique based in Palo Alto, CA, has just partnered with the social gaming company Badgeville to reward its best customers for telling the company what they plan to buy before it ever hits the shelves. Last week mbStartups caught up with Moxsie CEO Jon Fahrner (formerly of Zappos) and marketing director Julia Kung to talk about how social media, and now gaming, have transformed the role of the fashion buyer from taste-maker to taste-tester.
Founded in 2008, Moxsie sells apparel, shoes, jewelry and accessories for men and women from over 100 independent designers with limited distribution, sustainable and cruelty-free products and no brick-and-mortar stores. Customers get free shipping, free returns, and the option to have a percentage of their purchase donated to one of several charities at check-out. With edgier fashion that’s moderately priced and that excludes mass-produced styles from chain stores, the clothing appeals to the “young, hip and wired,” said Kung, which also makes the site a perfect fit for social media.
Under the hashtag #BuyerChat the shop’s 105,000 Twitter followers get to go behind the scenes of photo shoots, meetings with designers and industry trade shows to get a feel for the upcoming season at the same time as the Moxsie staffers. According to Fahrner, the response is immediate and very enthusiastic. “i want your middle finger. love that ring,” wrote a recent follower, to which another follower replied, “depending on your height/stature wear what’s appropriate You also dont wanna look like your wearing Capt America’s shield.”
Instantaneous feedback like this has completely reversed the role of the buyer, said Fahrner. Prior to social media, fashion buyers would browse the designers’ samples and pick what they thought their customers would like. Magazine editors would also weigh in on upcoming trends. Not until the merchandise hit the stores did the customers get to offer their opinions, and even then, their opinions were only measured in sales.
Now buyers can take a quick photo of an item, send it off in a tweet and get instant feedback from their customer base, which Fahrner said helps them make better purchasing decisions and all but guarantees that the customers will get what they want. Designers rarely show everything they have, but Kung said that most will allow just enough photography for the customer to get a feel for which colors, fabrics and styles they can expect to see in the stores.
Tracy Beetler, sales manager of Matiko Footwear loves the service. “#BuyerChat is the quickest, most exciting way to get feedback from a wide range of customers from all over the country, instead of just getting feedback from one show. Moxsie is pioneering this space and we are thrilled to hear feedback directly from our potential buyers. With social media, we can post pictures, talk to multiple people at once and get huge reach,” she said in a statement.
Now that Moxsie has partnered with Badgeville, a white label social loyalty, rewards, and analytics platform, the retailers have made a game of keeping their shoppers involved in the selection process. Each time the customers participate in a buyer chat, they earn points toward Buyer-In-Training, Head Buyer or Celebrity Buyer badges on Facebook while the Moxsie team takes notes on what they like.
“As socially-connected gaming continues to grow – commerce is the next frontier,” said Kris Duggan, CEO and founder of Badgeville in a statement. “Consumers want to make buying decisions based on a deep connection with the brands they love. Moxsie has built an excited and highly engaged community. Through Badgeville, they can recognize and reward #BuyerChat interactions and engage users, not only around Moxsie as an online store, but more deeply with the brands of the independent designers.”