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Fashion Site Nasty Gal Flirts With Free Overnight Shipping To Encourage Shoppers To Splurge

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LA-based online fashion outlet Nasty Gal, which picked up almost $50 million in funding last year in two rounds (both from Index Ventures), is now using some of that cash to bankroll a limited time offer of free overnight shipping for customers who spend $150+. The site sells — in its own words — “unapologetically sexy” fashions, targeting “fashion-forward, free-thinking girls”.

It’s not clear how long the free shipping offer, which is only open to U.S. customers and does not extend to international shipping, will run. Nasty Gal normally charges $29 for an Overnight UPS Service that takes “one day” to arrive. We’ve reached out to the company to ask for more details and will update this story with any response. Update: CEO and creative director, Sophia Amoruso told TechCrunch that the free overnight shipping offer is the first of a series of “customer-focused initiatives” Nasty Gal plans to launch in the near future.

“We are now confident we can support [these initiatives] from an operational perspective,” she said, noting that its fulfilment center was moved to Kentucky last year, and the company also brought ex-Zappos staff on board.  “We have grown fast, and without leadership on the ops side, which we are fortunate to have done. Now is the time for us to bust out,” she added.

“The reason we chose to do overnight is part of my vision to give our customers what they want when they want it. They can talk to us in real time, shop in real time, and now wear Nasty Gal in what’s pretty close to real time. That’s a really exciting and rare thing in the world of Ecommerce.”

Free shipping is a proven tool to get online shoppers clicking — even more so for online fashion retail which has to deal with the problem of high return rates since buyers aren’t trying clothes on for size (and style) before buying. UK-based online fashion giant ASOS has offered free standard shipping (and free returns) for years, for example, to keep customers clicking.

The online clothes shopping returns problem may be even more acute for a racy fashions site like Nasty Gals than some of the broader church fashion sites like ASOS which sell a mix of styles to women and men. One girl’s “unapologetically sexy” is another’s ‘uber tacky’ — there is, as they say, no accounting for taste. So adding free overnight shipping is one way for Nasty Gal to circumvent any pre-purchase nerves shoppers might have — about whether those coated garter leggings or heavenly body shorts will look absolutely awesome or terribly trashy. (Or, as the Nasty Gal blog puts it: “Now you officially have an excuse to get everything in your tote.”)

Buyers are encouraged to order several possible items, to reach the $150 threshold, and can then send back the ones that don’t suit. And with speedy shipping the whole process doesn’t drag out over the best part of a week (meaning buyers are freed up to spend again if nothing suits).

Add to that, plenty of individual items on Nasty Gal retail for more than $150 (although its own-label items are generally well below that mark) — so the minimum spend to qualify for the free shipping offer doesn’t necessarily demand a digital basket stuffed with stuff. The offer may therefore also be aimed at encouraging shoppers to purchase some of the more expensive items on the site — as they factor in their shipping savings plus the instant gratification of getting the gear the next day.

Amoruso also noted that “a good portion” of Nasty Gal orders exceed the $150 threshold, telling Techcrunch: “We have a very healthy average order size.”

Free shipping is one way to tackle the problem of online clothing size and fit. But there are of course bags of startups trying to use tech to solve the problem at source — including Clothes Horse, Fits.me, Fitiquette and Metail, to name a few.

Another one — Virtusize — is evidently currently being trialled by ASOS, as their “fit visualiser” interface appears on a minority of ASOS items. This approach requires buyers to measure a garment they already own that fits them and then offers a comparison with the item that’s for sale:

Asos size visualiser