A year since launch and young entrepreneur Kath Purkis is just as dedicated to growing her latest start-up, Her Fashion Box. The subscription commerce model requires regular tweaking and holistic customer personalisation to maintain scale.
Having founded the online fashion boutique, Le Black Book at the age of 21, the entrepreneurial Kath Purkis then went on to launch her subscription commerce experiment, Her Fashion Box five years later.
One year on from Her Fashion Box’s launch, Purkis is still working hard to innovate and develop what is generally considered an incredibly niche business model. By striving to get to know as much about her subscribers as possible, Purkis leverages the information to yield them a box filled with apparel, jewellery or beauty products, selected to match their individuality – all at a flat, monthly fee.
With product and personalisation systems in-hand, Purkis has gone on to launch Her Fashion Box internationally, and can now claim customers from all over the world, with whom she takes personal pride in introducing to new products and Australian designers.
To read more about Purkis’ start-up journey with Her Fashion Box, see our case profile from February last year.
In order to find out how Her Fashion Box has been faring since launch, we recently caught up with Purkis in an exclusive Power Retail interview.
What’s changed at Her Fashion Box since launch?
Plenty! From the original concept and pre-launch, Her Fashion Box has really evolved into something unique. Originally I had thought subscription commerce would be a great change from traditional e-commerce where you are dispatching products daily and holding stock. With Her Fashion Box, there are so many amazing ups on traditional e-tail, however while you aren’t dispatching daily; you are analysing everything daily to ensure you have the right processes in place, you are on schedule for box day and subscribers are constantly on-boarding.
We originally started in the boardroom of our web developer’s office until we got our first office once the first box went out. We have now moved into our new warehouse HQ which is very exciting and we love having room to grow. We’ve created a mini Google vibe and encourage entrepreneurial spirit within the team. I can already see a few mini entrepreneurs brewing in the team.
We are now one of the world’s leading fashion subscription services, shipping globally. I had the global vision from day one, however wanted to launch locally to validate and iron out the kinks in the natural start-up phase. We launched international shipping in January this year and we have had our sights on expansion ever since. We know what works with Her Fashion Box and it’s now a matter of amplifying these key things.
We also have a monthly magazine and e-zine which is sent to all subscribers each month, something that we put a lot of passion into producing. Again, something that no one else is doing and a great point of difference for Her Fashion Box.
Has the product range changed?
We originally pitched a fashion and beauty box, delivered to our subscribers. We listened to feedback and are constantly striving to improve quality, both in the trend pieces we choose and the brand mix. We also have a style profile that women sign up to and fill out once signed up. This style profile helps us determine what we put in the box. We go into details such as skin colour, hair colour, trend preferences, lifestyle preferences and age. This will also help us as we grow & help us determine what other verticals to move into if we choose to roll out new boxes.
We have also recently started collaboration pieces with Australian fashion designers.
Collaborating with Australian designers allows us to showcase a print from their latest collection and showcase them to women all over the world. There is something exciting about a girl in the US doing her monthly Her Fashion Box unboxing at home and discovering a new Australian designer who she may never have heard of. I am very passionate about Australian fashion and will be doing more of these collaborations for our subscribers.
We also introduced a smaller offering, the Boxette which features one-to-two accessories and three beauty products. This addition is great as a ‘taster’ for Her Fashion Box.
Her Fitness Box was also launched in March this year, which has been getting great uplift. Myself and members of the team wanted a fitness inspiration hit in the form of a box and the new vertical was launched. We love experiencing new products we wouldn’t usually know about and easily get hooked on them. I am looking forward to seeing Her Fitness Box grow – plenty of exciting things in the works behind the scenes.
What are the major challenges you’ve faced in your first year?
The first year was a fun roller coaster! When I think back to the challenges we had in the first six months, we’ve come a long way. It’s amazing how different the hurdles are once you start to really grow. We are now at a much higher subscriber count than when we first launched, which means we have much more product to order, manage, a bigger team and more boxes to pack. I love the challenges, through each of them we learn something and end up working smarter.
We have built plenty of custom subscription systems with Her Fashion Box and have really mapped it out to meet our customisation needs. A monthly billing system is one thing, but a completely unique customer experience and profile in the system is another thing. We took the original minimum viable product (MVP) and quickly saw what was needed in order to scale.
There isn’t a rule book for subscription commerce, but plenty of information is out there for online retail. However, subscription commerce and traditional online retail are very different. I feel like I could now write a book on both with all the learnings from the past 14 months with Her Fashion Box and seven years with Le Black Book.
What are the major challenges you’re still facing?
Our subscriber growth is a numbers game and we see that the more website traffic we have, the greater the subscriber growth. It’s a very exciting time right now and I am focusing my energy into opportunities which give Her Fashion Box great reach.
Retention is also a very important part of subscription commerce and something we are constantly improving on. We have dedicated retention strategies to ensure everyone loves Her Fashion Box and stays on board with us.
Any additions as far as technology, marketing or fulfilment solutions or providers?
We have custom built our platform and are always looking to improve it and it’s reporting. There is no ‘out-of-the-box’ solution for subscription boxes that have customisation elements. When we launched the MVP, it was tricky to co-ordinate two systems, but now it’s much easier and seamless. We have some very cool technology solutions behind the scenes that are assisting us to acquire more subscribers and have great customer retention.
Her Fashion Box’s innovative ability to allow customers to tailor the product offering sets it apart from traditional retailers as it generates a user experience that enables customers to succeed as co-creators. This customisation allows customers to curate a box that meets their exact needs by only including fashion accessories that reflect their personal style, and beauty products appropriate for their skin type and in accordance to their makeup preferences.
Her Fashion Box’s subscription model differs from traditional retail, as it increases consumer spending, retention and lifetime customer value. In addition, the company benefits by having a built-in, recurring opportunity to market additional products, and collects recurring revenue with minimal efforts. It also allows Her Fashion Box to develop deeper customer relationships and in turn gain invaluable insights into consumer trends as they become familiar with regular subscribers, which provides Her Fashion Box with feedback on how to continue improving its product offering. By regularly being in touch with loyal customers, Her Fashion Box can better serve its customers, grow goodwill and earn word-of-mouth promotion.