I have a new website crush. I’ve become a raving fan of an online business, Rent The Runway.
A little background… my younger daughter is just graduating from high school, and last weekend was Prom Weekend. Those of you that know my daughter know that she’s a bit of a fuss-pot. She didn’t want to wear her sister’s old prom dress, or apparently ANY of the prom dresses within a three hour drive of our home. So, we sought out alternatives, and one of these alternatives was renting a designer gown from Rent The Runway. This appealed to her sensibilities, because she was philosophically opposed to spending a mortgage payment-sized chunk of cash on a dress she would only wear once. Bless her little practical (if not smug) heart! It appealed to my sensibilities because their website, quite frankly, blew me away. Was it the gorgeous dresses? The designer name-dropping? Nope. It was the utterly brilliant execution of SOCIAL PROOF.
Rent The Runway: A Social Proof Case Study
My clients know that I’m a big believer in using Social Proof on a website to gain trust. So what is Social Proof, again?
Social proof: The concept that people will conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior. In other words, if I’m not sure what to do, I’ll look around and see what other people are doing.
It’s driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about a given situation. Social proof is a very compelling driver in decision making, and you can use it to your advantage on your website, through testimonials, case studies, and the like.
So how does Rent The Runway utilize Social Proof? Purposefully and intentionally.
After a rental has been returned, Rent The Runway asks their clients to post pictures of themselves in their rented dresses, all dolled up for their events, and they encourage those clients to include very detailed comments and specific information.
Ladies talk about how great they felt in their outfits, what occasion they wore it to, how true the colors were to the online photos (or were “slightly more purple in real life”, for example). But more importantly, they post vital sizing information that gives others the confidence to rent that dress.
They tell you their height, weight, body type, cup size, how tall their shoes were, what underwear they wore… you name it! They say things like “I wore the 2 Long, because the 1 Regular was too short”, or “I’m normally an 8, but the 6 was definitely more flattering around my waist”. Valuable stuff, when you are renting a dress and need to pick a size (two sizes, actually… Rent the Runway sends you two sizes of your choice, to make sure you get a good fit).
The Icing On The Cake: The Built-In Vanity Filter
Here’s my favorite part about this execution of Social Proof… it’s self-filtering. How’s that? No woman is going to post a picture of herself online if she doesn’t feel like a million bucks in that photo! You are much more likely to post positive a review if you feel good enough about the dress to put a photo of yourself wearing it on the internet. It’s the built-in vanity filter.
Backed Up By Great Customer Service
Social Proof only works if you have good customer service, and in my experience this business does. When we rented, my daughter’s first choice was only available in one size, so she got to pick another dress as her second size. Then, the day her rental was slated to ship, we received an email informing us that one of her selections was only available in one size, because the other had been returned either late, or damaged. I’m sure this happens, from time to time. As compensation, she was told to pick any other available dress on the website, and they would ship her that one in two sizes, in addition to the two already coming. So ultimately she had three different styles in various sizes shipped to her. And I have to tell you, it was a difficult choice! They were ALL stunning. Oh… to be 17 again…
I do have one disclosure I must make: sadly, Rent the Runway does not yet ship to Canada, so I had to drive 45 minutes to a UPS outlet south side to pick up the dresses. But for this occasion, I was happy to do it.
With solid customer service, a great website, and brilliant execution of Social Proof through their reviewing system, it’s easy to see why Rent The Runway has so many raving fans. What is next for them? I just noticed they are starting a service called Rent The Runway Unlimited. For $99/month, you get unlimited rentals of everyday fashion and accessories, three at a time, to be swapped out as frequently as you wish. Free shipping and dry cleaning included. WOW. If they start shipping to Canada, I don’t think I can say no to that!