Gwynnie Bee, a subscription service offering women’s clothing for rent, is launching a new technology platform that allows traditional retailers to offer their own subscription clothing rental business.
According to news from TechCrunch, the platform — called “CaaStle” (Clothing as a Service) — handles all aspects of the subscription business, including the website, databases, cleaning, returns, packing, shipping and more.
“When we first started the company, this was the goal — build the platform and the technology that would power a new economy for retail,” said Founder and CEO Christine Hunsicker. “From day one, we were building this, but we had to prove the model would work. We also had to have a way to prove that we could do it right — that we could ship boxes and process inventory — so we brought up Gwynnie Bee as our first service on top of CaaStle.”
Founded in 2011, Gwynnie Bee originally served the plus-sized women’s clothing market, but expanded this year to also include sizes zero through eight.
With CaaStle, retailers send Gwynnie Bee their inventory, and the platform takes care of everything else. It builds the front-end site under the retailer’s name, processes returns and takes care of the cleaning, inspecting, restocking and picking, packing and shipping — all from its multi-tenant warehouses in Columbus and Phoenix.
The retailers pay Gwynnie Bee on a per-customer basis when they use CaaStle. There are basic, premium and enterprise tiers available, with additional services, such as fit-and-size recommendations, personalization technology, algorithms that price clothes and more.
The service works for both retailers looking to expand its customer base, as well as those that simply want their current customers to spend more money. CaaStle can also help those with excess inventory they’re looking to unload.
“But the best stuff is not the top sellers,” Hunsicker added. “I think this is probably one of the most interesting pieces of this model — what sells well tends to not rent well, because what sells well are the basics, the staple items … what rents well is all of the fashion. What people actually want to rent is an amazing complement to traditional retail, which is why we’re so excited about it.”
Some of CaaStle’s clients already include Ann Taylor (Infinite Style) and New York & Company (NY&C Closet), and there are more retailers coming on board in 2018 — including some outside women’s apparel.