Is the “Stitch Fix Effect” Hurting Malls?

The subscription service keeps customers from having to go to stores.

Motley Fool Staff
Motley Fool Staff
Jun 20, 2019 at 3:40PM
Consumer Goods

Stitch Fix (NASDAQ:SFIX) acts as a sort of personal shopper for consumers. It sends members boxes of clothes matched to their personal styles, keeping the person from ever having to go shopping for clothes. Malls could offer services like this, capitalizing on their ability to show people merchandise, but many retailers have resisted offering subscription boxes, tailoring services, and other related services.

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This video was recorded on June 18, 2019.

Shannon Jones: Another thing that I think is really important to address is the Stitch Fix effect. I am a Stitch Fix customer. Stitch Fix, of course, came out with a subscription where I can get clothes now mailed to me. There's the convenience factor, I can ship them back. You've seen a lot of retailers starting to implement similar subscription services. The Loft is another one that I think announced recently that they were trying that out. How do you view Stitch Fix impacting a lot of these mall stores?

Dan Kline: It's going to hurt them. Now, if I'm a mall store, there's an answer to this. In theory, I should be able to walk into Macy's, spend some time either with an AI on a tablet or preferably an actual human. That human learns what I like, or that AI learns what I like by what I'm taking pictures of or whatnot. And then they're creating a customized solution for me. There is absolutely a way that mall stores could go into this business. But for the most part, they haven't. I'll jump on another trend: having custom-made clothes like an MTaylor or other brands like that. Or, even using a tool so you get the right sizes when you're on a website. That's something that stores should be doubling down on. I buy suits at Macy's because I tend to figure out I need a suit two hours before I need the suit, and if you go to Macy's, there are actual tailors who work there. That's just not something you can equal online.

That's where the mall needs to strive to offer. If I can go to a store and have everything done for me, I'm digitally measured, everything fits, if I want to sign up for a subscription box, I can sign up for a subscription box, and I don't have to come back to the mall, and I can make my returns in the mall instead of having to mail them back -- that's how a mall competes with Stitch Fix. I haven't seen it. I'm not a customer because, well, I don't go to an office so I don't have to really think about what I'm wearing most days.