Retail

Reeling In Shoppers With A Digital Take On Layaway

What to do for the shopper with champagne tastes — and a beer budget?

For consumers with an appetite for designer, but a budget perhaps more tailored to fast fashion, the digital age offers a myriad of solutions: Buy it used, rent it temporarily or risk a knock-off from an extreme online discounter that may (or may not) be offering the real deal. Another option, the classic, is to whip out the plastic card with the highest limit and buy the designer good brand new — absolutely real and owned by the buyer forever. That is good because, depending on the interest rate on that high-limit card, one might be paying off that designer indulgence for forever, so it will at least be nice to have the item.

There is, of course, always the option of saving for the treasured object, but saving is hard. One might have the best of all intentions to give up the Starbucks and save for those Louboutin shoes but, somehow, life seems to keep getting in the way.

But what if saving was much easier? That is the founding concept behind the eTailer Reel, which is looking to reach the fashion-conscious, but budget-limited.

The concept behind Reel is simple. Customers, or “Reelers,” join up, then search through its database for the product they eventually hope to purchase. Once that is selected, users set up a custom savings plan that specifies how much the Reeler wants to save daily or weekly and links their bank account to their Reel profile. The app takes over from there, which automatically deducts the specified amount, tracks the buyer’s savings progress and — when the goal has been met — purchases the order and sends it to the buyer.

The concept is the brainchild of Daniela Corrente, CEO of Reel, who was looking for a guilt-free shopping option for consumers in a world that can push over-consumption with too many ill thoughts through swipes of the plastic. Having directly lived through the consequences of taking on debt to purchase her favorite things, Corrente decided that shoppers with an eye for the finer things in life deserved a method better than acquiring them through credit card debt.

“Our Reelers are savvy, hard-working women who want to look amazing, yet they want to do it smartly, so definitely fashion is the number one category,” Corrente said, noting that handbags are consistently their leading objects of desire, particularly Gucci products.

“Gucci fever is all around us these days,” Corrente said.

The bigger issue the brand seeks to address, however, is allowing consumers to manage their money responsibly but also enjoyably. There are a lot of applications out there to help consumers, particularly young and inexperienced consumers, save for a “rainy day” or retirement. That’s important, Corrente noted, and a long-term perspective is key to financial management, but consumers also have here-and-now needs they want to meet. Any customer should be able to dress like the “ball out of control,” according to the FSHN Magazine.

“If you think about it, saving $5 a day, you can get to your goal pretty quickly,” Corrente shared. “So Reelers save within the $5 to $10 a day range. And we make sure to keep it super flexible: you can change the item you are saving for, pause it at any time and resume it once [you] are ready to keep going.”

So, does the online world need layaway?

Well, Reel’s Reelers have already saved over $2 million collectively to make the purchase of their dreams an (eventual) reality. In an era where consumer debt has been steadily creeping up, much to the alarm of some economists, it seems timely to offer a way to buy high-end, big-ticket items that does not necessitate the reality of going into deep and intractable debt.

But can a scalable number of consumers give up the thrill of having it all now for the somewhat more ephemeral pleasure of guilt-free shopping? The numbers, so far, look promising as, perhaps, more consumers than one might think would rather shop guilt-free than shop right now.

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