Rent The Runway Reviews | Will the Site Survive? What You Need to Know About Rent the Runway
While many Rent the Runway reviews focus on the actual rental process, this review also examines behind the scenes in order to answer the question, “Will the site survive?”
A luxury fashion rental company, Rent the Runway allows customers to rent everything from Rent the Runway maternity fashion to Rent the Runway wedding items..
In order to provide a contextual backdrop to examine whether Rent the Runway will last over the long haul, this review examines the actual products (i.e. Rent the Runway dresses and accessories); how the business model works; onsite customer Rent the Runway reviews (comments and photos); Rent the Runway coupons, promotions, and memberships; the Rent the Runway app; and the company’s brick and mortar locations.
This article presents pivotal information about Rent the Runway and explores whether issues reported in the media are red flags signaling trouble ahead or whether they are just common growing pains.
In particular, the company’s recent employee exodus, reported revenues and valuations, the Unlimited membership subscription service, increased Rent the Runway competitors, and, movement into the offline world are examined.
About Rent the Runway Dresses & Accessories
Rent the Runway is about “democratizing” luxury fashion, including Rent the Runway dresses and accessories. Customers are able to rent out designer items for a fraction of what they normally retail for. In essence, customers are presented with the opportunity of experiencing luxury Rent the Runway dresses and items without the exorbitant price tag.
The service is for women only; there is no Rent the Runway for men section.
Image Source: Rent the Runway Dresses & Accessories
Founded in 2009 by Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, Rent the Runway is headquartered in New York and has been backed by the likes of Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Highland Capital and Bain Capital Ventures (according to Crunchbase.com).
As the website itself states, “we’re not in the fashion business. We’re in the fashion-technology-engineering-supply-chain-operations-reverse logistics-dry cleaning-analytics business.”
Rent the Runway is best known for Rent the Runway dresses, some of which include:
- Formal dresses
- Work dresses
- Casual dresses
- Plus size dresses
- Rent the Runway maternity dresses
- Rent the Runway wedding dresses
- Floral dresses
- Gala gowns
Rent the Runway also rents other clothing, including:
- Jumpsuits & rompers
- Jackets & coats
Over 300 dress designers and accessory designers are listed. Rent the Runway also sells ex-rental stock under the “Clearance” tab, where customers receive amazing bargains. They also sell intimate apparel and beauty products.
Example of Clearance Item – selling for $242 ($2,500 U.S. retail)
A big plus point for customers is the rental of items that would normally only be worn once for special “Occasions.” Rent the Runway wedding, bridesmaid, or mother of the bride dresses are a prime example of their occasion wear (found in their Wedding Shop).
The wedding market is popular and is featured under the “Customer Favorites” tab, with categories such as bachelorette, engagement party, and bridal shower.
As suggested by many Rent the Runway reviews, another big market is the Rent the Runway maternity fashion. Customers choose Rent the Runway dresses instead of purchasing because they are not their usual size and will probably never wear the item again.
Work wear is also another popular Rent the Runway item.
The Business Model: Rent the Runway Dresses & Accessories
The company has its rental process down to a fine art. There are four main steps when renting from Rent the Runway, including:
- Shop by Occasion – Find just the right Rent the Runway dresses and accessories, such as a Rent the Runway wedding item.
- Find the Best Fit – Customers can add one free backup size to the order. A second style can be added for a fee.
- Select a Timeframe – Typically, customers are able to choose 4- or 8-day rental periods for Rent the Runway dresses and accessories.
- Return the Item – Rent the Runway returns are free and paid for by the company. Dry cleaning and insurance is also taken care of by the company.
Rent the Runway Reviews Onsite: A Key Ingredient
Rent the Runway reviews by customers are presented on their website. This not only acts as advertising, it also informs and educates customers about the actual items they are looking to rent. An added bonus is fellow customers’ own personal photos of them wearing the item.
Rent the Runway reviews onsite are presented by overall stars. They are also broken down by size and have a photo area where customers can provide Rent the Runway reviews and upload photos and comments.
Example of Rent the Runway reviews online
Rent the Runway Coupons, Promotions, & Memberships
The company also has a range of Rent the Runway coupons and membership offers, some of which include:
- First Order Discount – With certain terms and conditions, a first-time customer will receive 20% off Rent the Runway dresses and accessories in the form of a Rent the Runway coupon.
- Clearance Sale – Dresses that have been previously rented are also for sale at drastically reduced prices.
- PRO Membership – Customers are able to access free standard shipping, free insurance, and a free birthday dress for a flat yearly fee.
- Unlimited Membership – Customers subscribe for $139/month and receive unlimited access to select items, including Rent the Runway dresses.
Unlimited Membership: Rent the Runway dresses & accessories
Rent the Runway App
The Rent the Runway app is just as professional as the website. Essentially a tech company, you wouldn’t expect anything less. Downloadable from iTunes, the Rent the Runway app has received 5 out of 5 stars from 89 ratings in its current version, while “all versions” have received 5 out of 5 stars from 3,414 ratings.
Recognizing that the customer base is busy and quite young, the Rent the Runway app is user-friendly, offers convenience, and allows customers to order on the go.
Brick & Mortar Locations
In 2015, Rent the Runway made its move from online to offline. Currently, Rent the Runway has five brick and mortar stores where customers can hire out Rent the Runway dresses and accessories:
- Chicago, IL
- Washington, DC
- NYC Flatiron
- NYC Style Studio
- Las Vegas
These offline spaces deliver services that an online presence cannot provide, such as meeting with a stylist who helps customers find the right outfit, trying on outfits prior to rental, matching accessories with dresses, instant exchanges, renting on the spot, and Rent the Runway returns instantly.
It is at this point where most Rent the Runway reviews end. However, in order to answer the question, “Will Rent the Runway survive?” we must explore some major issues that the company is currently facing and will face in the future.
Major Business Issues or Normal Growing Pains?
According to some reports, Rent the Runway is experiencing serious problems that are raising red flags. From significant employee departures to hiccups with their Unlimited membership service, some Rent the Runway reviews in the media have implied trouble.
- Unlimited Membership Service Hiccups
The previously mentioned Unlimited Membership is touted as the largest opportunity for the business. Hyman, cofounder of Rent the Runway, said that “Under the covers, we’ve done 40 different iterations of this program.” In the same article, it was reported that many employees are skeptical of the potential of the Unlimited Membership.
In a TechInsider 2016 article, Brooke Hartmann, Rent the Runway senior VP, suggested not only was the Unlimited membership staying, but they were considering a tiered service version of it.
Furthermore, the Unlimited Membership is meant to be partly responsible for the projected 2016 revenues – the best yet (Forbes.com, 2016).
Rent the Runway’s Unlimited subscription service has certainly had its ups and downs. However, this is obviously a well-loved service by customers and has been anything but a flop. It appears to be continuing to expand, with each new tweak aimed to make the service that much better for customers.
- Increased Competition – Rent the Runway Competitors
For now, Rent the Runway is dominating its niche. However, as stated by Marshal Cohen, the chief retail industry analyst with the NPD Group, “RTR will likely face considerable competition in the future,” and this is a significant challenge that they will need to overcome.
Major Rent the Runway competitors include:
It does seem certain, though, that a Rent the Runway for men won’t be a competitor.
- Brick and Mortar
As discussed earlier, Rent the Runway, like many other successful companies, made the transition from online to offline. The Rent the Runway dresses and accessories company is just one of many eCommerce stores that have made this move. Amazon, Birchbox, Warby Parker, Bonobos, JustFab, and ModCloth are just some that have also traversed into the brick and mortar world, according to MarketingLand.com.
The online and offline stores work hand-in-hand and feed off each other. The brick and mortar presence is an important part of many progressive companies these days.
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So, Will the Site Survive?
All signs point to yes. Rent the Runway is simply experiencing common growing pains that are a result of the company’s strategic planning. There is no denying that the company is going strong and that their online presence/site will continue to be a pivotal part of their online-offline strategy into the future.
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