Less than two years after its launched, online retailer AYR (All Year Round, pronounced like “air”) has grown its initially small line of basic womenswear into a robust online shopping experience for the 30-something year-old who is too busy to shop brick and mortar. Launched as the first womenswear label under online menswear retailer Bonobos, AYR takes advantage of its parent companies vertically-integrated infrastructure and proven business model, which in my opinion makes them a digital winner.
AYR promises customers a line of high-quality, simple basics that are usually hard to find and that can be worn all year round, hence the label’s name. By putting a strong strategic emphasis on sourcing the highest quality fabrics from all over the world, AYR is able to charge premium prices for basic pieces it believes all women want to have in their wardrobe. Its crown jewel are denim jeans – according to Vogue, AYR achieved the impossible by “creating form-flattering jeans with all the stylistic appeal of their vintage predecessors.”
Similar to Bonobos, AYR’s business model allows the label to execute on its strategy by creating value on both the digital and the physical dimension. Digitally, AYR has a very attractive and user-friendly website (https://ayr.com/) which is designed to reflect the simple-yet-stylish image of the brand and has won multiple AWWWard awards. For each piece, detailed information about the fit and fabric highlight the value AYR creates, which brings me to the physical dimension.
AYR takes the online shopping experience offline in two major ways. First, shoppers can use the Home Try On feature to have up to three different sizes of the same pair of denim delivered to their door-step; AYR then gives shoppers up to one week to decide which one (if any) fits the best and only charges the customer once she selected a keeper. Second, AYR has what it calls a Guideshop (a small showroom that displays its entire line) at its New York headquarters. This allows shoppers the option to book an appointment for trying on clothes in a more traditional retail setting and it allows AYR to receive real-time feedback on its line on a regular basis.
While value creation happens at both the physical and digital level, AYR captures value exclusively online. Even though shoppers have various choice for how they can try on clothes (i.e., home try on, the Guideshop, regular online shopping), all roads lead them to the online purchasing portal. When I visited their Guideshop last summer, for example, I had a personal consultant who convinced me to buy a few pieces that were not in my price range, but oh the fabric was so nice and I would were them for years, wouldn’t I? To purchase what I had selected, the AYR employee sat down with me and walked through their website, exactly the same way I would if I was sitting on my sofa at home buying clothes online. I even had to live with the delayed gratification of online shopping rather than buying my clothes on the spot – but with free 1-2 delivery I was still a happy shopper.