TECHNOLOGY

Hot Start-Ups: Under 5’10 is resizing clothing for men

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The saying “invention is the mother of necessity” couldn’t be more fitting for online start-up Under 5’10.

Founded in May 2018, the Cedarhurst, N.Y.-based company was created to alleviate the frustration shorter men often feel when shopping for apparel. In fact, it was company founder Elie Robinson’s very own personal frustration that brought the concept to life.

“The average male height in the U.S. is 5’10, and mass manufacturers cut clothing around this average male height,” Robinson told Chain Store Age. “And who can blame them — they want to hit the broadest audience possible. While e-commerce takes away some of this stigma for shorter male shoppers, I knew there had to be a better way to build confidence for consumers under 5’10.”

Robinson brought some 20 years of executive experience in developing and managing start-ups to his quest. After soliciting the opinions of other men under 5’10 — and their spouses — he knew he was onto something. He found out that many men wear clothes that don’t fit them properly, invest in custom clothing, or buy off the rack and then have the clothes tailored.

Robinson knew that a successful line required a more accurate sizing scheme. To that end, the entrepreneur acquired Fittery, a digital company that used predictive analytics to create a sizing database that accurately determines body proportions. This database was filled with large data sets used to formulate the algorithms for both body sizing, and to match bodies to well-fitting clothing. He enlisted the help of his step sister, an analyst with Annalyze101, to query the database.

“We found between 50 and 75 size and fit combinations, but knew we needed to simplify or we would be drowning in inventory,” he explained. As a result, they narrowed down the best fits and cuts to six sizes — XS, S, M, L, XL and 2XL.

Ready to develop a proof-of-concept line, Robinson launched a 30-day funding campaign in May through Kickstarter, attracting 142 backers within 21 days. The process also solicited consumer feedback that he applied to the design of Under 5’10’s first collection — dress shirts that featured a trim, tailored look.

In August, the company’s e-commerce site went live with 11 shirt styles in six sizes, all priced at $59.99. The shirts are made with 100% cotton and feature narrow shoulders, slim torsos, and a shorter overall length. The garments also feature accurate stitching, buttonhole placements, collar heights and cuff lengths, “all elements that guarantee the shirt will fit properly,” Robinson said.

To help customers navigate their online shopping journey, the site features a sizing chart, as well as an interactive size recommender. By inputting neck size and sleeve length, the tool can suggest more accurate size options.

Under 5’10 also offers free returns and exchanges for 30 days in the contiguous 48 states. Adjustments are processed within four and seven days of being received. However, the company has yet to process any returns since its online launch, according to Robinson.

The start-up’s customer base is comprised of an affluent demographic, “one that equates value to time,” Robinson explained. “These shoppers are used to paying for tailoring and waiting to get their merchandise. Besides giving them better fitting shirts, we also wanted to give them instant gratification.”

This motivation, coupled with a seed investment of $750,000 led by brothers Baruch and Jonathan Glaubach, inspired the company to try out brick-and-mortar. (As part of the investment, Jonathan Glaubach joined the company as VP of product and retail and as a partner. He also happens to be 5’2.)

Opened in October, the Under 5’10 store is located on a busy shopping street in the town of Cedarhurst, New York. (Rather than use the space solely as a storefront, the location also serves as the company’s warehouse and corporate headquarters.) Shoppers can browse through the merchandise, and try on items in a fitting room.

The physical location has resulted in increased sales for the fledging business. The store sells an average of six-to-eight shirts per transaction, compared to one or two shirts sold during each online sale. Glaubach credits this higher conversion to “more precise sizing and the ability to test and try product.”

“Ninety percent of our customers who try on our shirts are perfectly fitted the first time,” he said.

Moving forward, the duo has big plans for the brand — including more stores. Specifically, they are considering micro-stores that stand approximately 600 sq. ft. “in every major city.” Pop-up locations are also an option, “as we won’t need to take on long-term leases, and can still test the waters in different neighborhoods,” Glaubach explained.

The company is also expanding its assortment into new categories, such as tech pants and jeans, both of which are launching in January. T-shirts, polo shirts and ties are next on the agenda, however no launch date has been determined.

The partners continue to evaluate how to further blend the two channels. For example, they are considering a “try before you buy” option that will enable customers to order an item online, and receive it in every available size to find the right fit. The customer would be able to return unwanted items and only pay for the ones they keep.

The partners are also keeping their eye on the evolution of body scanning technology to help online customers more accurately select their best size.

Meanwhile, Robinson wants to find new ways to collect customer data — especially at store-level.

“Consumer data is huge,” he said. “We can monitor the online journey and measurements added to the size recommender. But we need to find ways to capture as much data as possible, so we can test new options. We are not at our end game.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Target shaking up its retail accelerator program

BY Marianne Wilson

Target Corp. is taking its retail accelerator program global.

The discounter said that its Target + Techstars accelerator program, which is entering its fourth year, will now be held in partnership with Germany-based food retail and wholesale giant Metro AG. Target said that by teaming up with Metro it will be able to better reach startups from around the world.

“Target’s portfolio of accelerator programs allows us to test a broad set of external innovations that can further differentiate and enhance our guest experience,” said Minsok Pak, executive VP, chief strategy and innovation offer, Target.  “The partnership with Metro not only extends our reach globally to bring new ideas to Target, but it further helps startups understand how to scale.”

During the first three years of the Target Techstars program, Target ran tests or pilots with more than half of the 30 participating startups. The retailer said is still actively working with more than a dozen companies.

The application process for this year’s program, is open, with Target accepting applications from retail startups around the world through Feb. 24. The 14-week program will kick off in early May 2019.

Each startup receives up to a $120,000 initial investment, intensive mentorship from Target and Metro business leaders, and a strong network of Techstars alumni. As part of the experience, all 10 selected startups will spend time at Target’s headquarters in Minneapolis and Metro’s accelerator headquarters in Berlin. Sessions will focus on how to bring a business concept to market and craft a compelling pitch to support fundraising and business development.

The accelerator will conclude with a demo day in August in Minneapolis, when the companies will pitch their businesses to Target, Metro and Techstars leadership, as well as the local startup community and potential investors.

The Metro Target Retail Accelerator, Certified by Techstars, is one of Target’s four accelerator programs, along with Target Takeoff, Target Incubator, and the India-based Target Accelerator.

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TECHNOLOGY

Seven Trends Driving Enterprise IT Transformation in 2019

Enabling the business outcome in a ‘real-time’ enterprise environment is the next challenge for global brands and government agencies in 2019. Tech companies will need to drive hard to continually exceed to their customers’ expectations during a time of accelerating change. They will need to show how technology can help deliver on their customers’ objectives, improve agility, security and impact, or they risk being disrupted.

Here is Verizon Enterprise Solution’s view of those enterprise technology trends that are most likely to impact our global government customers in 2019:

1. The real-time enterprise will begin to transform how business works: Foundational technologies — software defined networks, 4G, the Internet of Things, intelligent video, security, telematics — are already changing the operations of business. In 2019, savvy CIOs will be focusing on how to reinvent their operations to leverage the enormous potential promised by disruptive technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence/machine learning, automation and robotics, augmented and virtual reality and the next-gen cloud including edge computing. Many of these technologies have now moved from concept to reality, and those who can best leverage the advantages they bring will increasingly be well placed to win the future.

2. Businesses will invest for performance: CIOs are recognizing that the network they use really matters to their business – a secure, strong network foundation enables them to deliver innovative platforms and solutions that will move their business forwards. Then, it’s all about the service model and the tech surround that makes network-reliant applications available – the support, the professional services, service level agreements and more. The key is to find an expert partner with the network expertise to help you deliver on your business objectives. You can’t run a modern business without secure network capacity.

3. We’ll remember that the customer is king: Customer experience (CX) has been a hot topic over recent years, but many of us have had personal experience of the big brands letting us down. With AI infiltrating CX systems, there’s an unprecedented opportunity to move to a principle of ‘personalization for you’, putting the customer back in the center of the business opportunity. The best organizations will use data to inform human engagement, remembering that it is human engagement that  creates real relationships. The technology will be leveraged to do this at speed and scale.

4. We’ll focus on the transaction guarantee: We’ve talked about software-defined networking (SDN) for a while, but it’s now out there, live, and transforming business opportunities all around the globe, configured to match your cost and security requirements. In 2019, organizational success will be driven by how well CIOs leverage the many options that SDN enables, delivering agility, flexibility, and scale to run their business. It’s now beyond application-aware networking, and instead, about focusing on the transaction guarantee, and defining policies to support the specific application, time or location needs that will make the difference.

5. Contextual privacy will be front and center: There’s never been a bigger focus on the importance of privacy, as data breaches continue to hit the headlines.  Application users are keenly interested in how their data is used. In 2019, we’ll begin to see a focus on contextual privacy requirements, linked to location-based awareness. This will change how organizations are able to approach their security, and will impact their ability to keep personally identifying data safe.

6. Automation will transform the workforce: Robotic process automation and machine learning (ML) will transform how business operates – and what skills a business workforce needs. In 2019, educators and businesses will focus on how to build a pool of data scientists and ML specialists to support our future “skills needs”, rather than yesterday’s business requirements.

7. We’ll go back to basics on security (again), but also focus on specifics: In 2019, organizations will redouble their efforts to strengthen their security posture. It’s about understanding their risk environment, and ensuring they are doing the basics right to protect their business; practicing IT hygiene to keep infrastructure current to protect against vulnerabilities continues to be critical.  Network-level security is essential – in a software-defined world, network segmentation and security is a central part of the design. They’ll also increasingly need visibility on data to drive insights and ultimately to make decisions on how to mitigate against specific security threats. But, action will be taken – or the board or the customer will ask why.

George Fischer is president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions

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