The Trunk Club: Skype Video Meets Personal Shopping

The Trunk Club is an Oregon-based startup that offers men a female personal shopper via Skype video. Shoppers consult with men online to determine their fashion requirements, then FedEx them a set of clothes for free. TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld describes the service:

Once a man (the service is only for men) gets his “trunk” of clothes, he tries them on via another Skype session (he is supposed to change off camera, but I am sure some perv customers will “forget”), gives his feedback to his personal shopper, and then decide which ones to keep. He can return any or all of the clothes at no expense to him. He only pays for what he keeps.

The business model is the same as a retail store. The Trunk Club buys clothing at wholesale and sells it at a normal retail markup. Except that the company has deals with clothing manufacturers which doesn’t require it to buy any minimum inventory. In fact, there is no inventory. Clothes only gets shipped when there is a customer who needs a particular item. It is not a discount service. But the personal shoppers come for free (thanks to Skype and the Internet). Customers don’t pay anything extra for them as they would in a fancy department store. The personal shoppers get a commission based on how much clothes they sell. And the men who are its customers never have to step foot in a store again.

The Trunk Club was started by Joanna Van Vleck, a personal stylist who opened up a showroom for her clients in Bend, Oregon. She was planning to open up retail outlets across the country where men could come in for their personal shopping sessions, but her angel investor backed out after the economy tanked. By necessity, she turned to the Skype model and only needed $50,000 in angel capital to get going. She has been in private beta with about 600 customers for the past six months. She now has 21 shopping experts working on commission, and is adding 5 to 6 every month. The Trunk Club’s hybrid approach is both high touch and scalable at the same time. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more retail concepts like this spring up in different categories, with real people helping you make a buying decision over Web video.

Read the whole article here (recommended).

Sounds like a boon for a select group of well-off single guys. It also helps that the women working for the service are all attractive.

I would like to see a similar service for women.

Written by Drea Knufken

Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.