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11/02/2017

Ann Taylor tries it hand at clothing rentals

Ann Taylor is testing a new way to get more of its merchandise into its shoppers’ hands.

In a move to compete with companies like Rent the Runway, Ann Taylor is jumping into the clothing rental segment. Last month, the company quietly launched Infinite Style — the retailer’s new online subscription rental service gives shoppers access to “hundreds of Ann Taylor looks” for one flat fee, according to the company’s website.

A $95 monthly fee enables customers to borrow up to three Ann Taylor items at a time — with unlimited exchanges, free dry cleaning, no due dates on returns, and free shipping on orders and returns. Shoppers can also purchase their favorite pieces at a discount, the website said.

Unlike Rent the Runway and other subscription models that feature a broad assortment of designers, Infinite Style will only feature Ann Taylor apparel. It does not include jewelry, accessories, or any goods from Loft or Lou & Grey, according to Racked.

Retailers across different segments are experimenting with rental models. For example, in June, Best Buy launched a rental service for gadgets ranging from cameras and audio equipment to fitness trackers. The try-before-you-buy program is a way for the retailer to develop a connection with customers earlier in the buying process, and encourage shoppers to make electronics purchases from Best Buy over Amazon.

Meanwhile, DSW recently announced it plans to integrate shoe rentals into its product offering. Coinciding with the company’s new brand mission to build an emotional connect with its customers and innovate customer experiences, the program is expected to appeal to customers who need a shoe for a special occasion to match a particular dress, but probably won’t ever wear it again.