Rent the Runway to Terminate Its Unlimited Membership
Clothing rental retailer Rent the Runway is phasing out its unlimited clothing rental plan, Unlimited Swap, early next year, and will no longer accept new members.
As consumers change how they shop during the pandemic, CEO and Co-Founder Jenn Hyman said in an open letter to customers that the goal of a new membership structure is to “provide customers with a flexible plan that can adapt seamlessly to their changing lifestyles, needs and budgets – with price points that reflect the number of styles received per month.”
The Unlimited Swap option had allowed Rent the Runway customers to pay $159 per month to exchange as many items as they wanted as long as they only had four items out at once. The new model allows customers to choose from three plans that offer up to 4, 8 or 16 items a month, and customize with extra items as needed.
According to the retailer, even before COVID-19, 70% of Unlimited Swap members were renting fewer than eight items per month and only 6% of Unlimited Swap members were renting 16 items or more per month.
Going forward a new 16-item plan for $199 per month will offer full closet access and four shipments a month.
“We wanted to provide a new plan for those members, albeit at a slightly higher price point that aligns with a premium level of access”, said Hyman.
The 4-item plan for $89 per month will offer basic closet access and one shipment a month — mostly casual, weekend and workwear styles with a retail value up to $350. The 8-item plan for $135 per month will offer full closet access to all designers and two shipments a month — including eventwear and premium styles with a retail value up to $3,500.
In addition, subscribers to any of the new plans can now create their next shipment before their returns are scanned back in at Rent the Runway.
“This is the most-requested feature of all-time from members, and brings the expedited swapping service of our popular Drop-off Box experience to all our members,” said Hyman.
Rent the Runway said in August it would shut all of its physical stores for good and add more drop boxes for customers, including converting its New York City flagship into a permanent drop-off site for return clothing.
The retailer is also adding the option for all new members to do a “Free Fit Do-Over,” which lets subscribers receive a replacement shipment at no extra charge within the first two months of membership, combating shoppers’ sizing and fit concerns that go along with online apparel shopping.
“The new membership plans also represent an important next step as we think even more critically about the carbon footprint of subscription rental,” said Hyman. “On average, our new memberships will mean fewer overall shipments per customer. Helping our members consolidate shipments is just one initiative intended to help reduce carbon emissions over time.”
Just over half (51%) of U.S. consumers believe that sustainability is at least somewhat important, according to a recent CGS survey, while the number jumps to 61% in the U.K.
Read here for more about sustainability and the resale/rental market.
Current and paused Unlimited Swap members can still use their memberships through early 2021. After that Rent the Runway will contact them to switch over to a new plan.
“I think a good company thinks about surviving through a pandemic,” Hyman told CNBC. “A great company thinks about how you evolve the business to a more strategic place because of this pandemic.”