March 31, 2010, 12:00 AM

J. Hilburn stitches together a more personalized online shopping experience

Web retailer J. Hilburn Inc., which specializes in men’s apparel, has launched a personalized shopping service that offers an online version of the in-store personal stylist.

 

Web retailer J. Hilburn Inc., which specializes in men’s apparel, has launched a personalized shopping service that offers an online version of the in-store personal stylist.

Shoppers using the site’s Custom Apparel Builder can design their own dress shirts by selecting among dozens of options for fabric, color, pattern and texture, along with styles for pleats, pockets and other areas of the shirt. An image of the shirt in the right half of the web page instantly changes as shoppers make their selections, and consumers can magnify the picture to see such details as buttons or cuffs.

The retailer used LiquiFire dynamic imaging technology from LiquidPixels to create the configurator service. Implementing the system took four months and cost about $150,000, Rathod says.

The direct-sales retailer also offers access to style advisors, some 600 sales representatives located around the country who schedule personal meetings with customers to take their measurements and suggest specific styles. The advisors can educate customers about the retailer’s high-end apparel, says Veeral Rathod, company president and co-founder. For instance, advisors may offer choices for shirt yokes and plackets, and Rathod says it’s a good bet many shoppers have no idea what those are. Shirt yokes pertain to shoulder material treatments and plackets are collar fasteners.

The online shirt configurator, meanwhile, complements the work of the personal stylists and often helps customers switch to doing do most if not all of their Hilburn shopping on the company’s web site, Rathod says. “One challenge in the custom shirt model is that most men are unfamiliar with all the different variations and options,” he says. “This is where our style advisor model becomes very helpful because our advisors can design and build shirts for a client, and then e-mail the specs to him. As our clients become more accustomed to the different collar styles, cuffs, etc., we do see them start to order entirely online.”

J. Hilburn, which opened for business in 2007, plans to expand the service to its other apparel lines, Rathod says. “Most men need advice on matching shirts, pants, belts and suits, and we believe an online tool will be very helpful to our customers,” he says.

 

 

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