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    Date submitted
  • 14-Feb-2018

IN/LINE

Abstract

IN/LINE is a fashion showroom solution improving the efficiency of wholesale buying appointments (B2B SaaS) and providing data-driven insights. After interning at Alexander Wang and M5 Showroom, it was apparent that even the top luxury fashion brands still lack modern software with the ability to interpret their data and automate many repetitive tasks. With our experience working in these showrooms, we developed a product flow and feature list that facilitate these repetitive tasks including appointment scheduling, digital webrooming, performance data visualization, and quick order creation.

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Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

We are targeting multi-brand showrooms as our initial customer and hope to engage with young wholesale buyers at major retailers as we gain traction. We chose to work with multi-brand showrooms because they already have a community of brands to adopt our software and a unique retail client list with which they have built trusting relationships. As a result, we will be able to avoid the troubles of populating a two sided market by partnering with the existing middle man. We previously interned at M5 Showroom (an Italian multi-brand showroom) to understand their pre-market week and appointment process. After surveying multiple other showrooms in New York, we have decided to beta test our product with M5 in mid-April.

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

The fashion industry is changing rapidly. On the consumer side, we have seen waves of department stores shutting down and the rise of online e-commerce sales. This transition to online has been a blessing for many companies who have been able to embrace the new omni-channel norm. However, on the wholesale side (⅓ of the entire fashion market cap), most brands have not been as receptive to new technologies disrupting the traditional showroom methods and remain bound to older, inefficient practices. “Brands know what sells the best, so we’re taking ownership in wholesale now and partnering with (retailers) in a very different kind of way.” - Tory Burch

What attributes will make this idea/product successful? Why do you believe that those features will create success?

Our team has performed extensive primary research within wholesale fashion in order to fully understand the technical pain points of the industry. We have interviewed stakeholders from every side of the showroom – directors, sales associates, models, large retail buyers, and independent buyers. We have also shadowed the appointment processes of two different showrooms in New York City. The first was Alexander Wang during Market Week for their Spring 2018 collection. This is was our first exposure to the tedious, inefficient, and manual practices of wholesale buying. A few months later, in order to validate the observations we made at Alexander Wang, our team worked at M5, a multi-brand Italian luxury showroom. At M5 we found many of the same technical issues that were present in a single brand showroom (Alexander Wang). This extensive primary research gives us confidence that our technology will directly and effectively resolve inefficiencies in the showroom process. We understand that when integrating a digital system into a traditionally manual experience, the technology must be a seamless tool, rather than a hindrance to the process. Our research makes us confident that the product we are building is highly desirable in the industry.

Explain how you (your team) will execute to make this idea/product successful? What gives you (your team) an advantage over others already in the market or new to this market?

Our team traveled to New York twice in the last four months to learn the inner workings of the wholesale fashion industry. We developed strong industry connections, one of which has led to a partnership with M5 Showroom. The desire for this product has allowed us to connect with top executives and industry thought-leaders at Barney’s, MoMA, Instagram, Global Brands Group, and Future Tech Lab to receive mentorship and feedback on our idea. A major advantage our team has over others in the wholesale and fashion industries is our individual backgrounds. Two of us are members in the inaugural class of the Iovine and Young Academy which combines design, technology, and business while another is a senior in the Viterbi School of Engineering studying computer science and business. At Alexander Wang, we were baffled by the lack of technology used within the showroom ordering process. But for our fellow interns with fashion or merchandising backgrounds, this experience is the way that wholesale business is done. As a result of our backgrounds and, truthfully, our inexperience within the industry, we saw this archaic system as an opportunity to create something with the ability to revolutionize the way showrooms are run.