How ModCloth’s ‘Be The Buyer’ Program Crowdsourced Its Way To Success

0 Posted by - 10/03/2011 - Retail

We coming to the end of 2011 and moving into 2012. Is it me, or was 2011 the year of enlightenment for brands and retailers when it came to social media? Twitter went from being the “the twitter” to a place where brands started to actively engage their customers and fans with genuine interest. And internet marketing strategies that were once deemed taboo became common place–like crowdsourcing.

From Garmz to Levi’s Campaigns to HSN’s partnership with Quirky, the evolution of crowdsourcing has been an amazing thing to watch. But most fashion social media historians know that crowdsourcing as mainstream marketing tactic was pioneered by ModCloth (which we’ve covered extensively since 2009).


ModCloth’s Be the Buyer program, launched in October of 2009, in combination with the rest of their marketing efforts, has helped captivate their customer’s interest and given the customer a voice in the buying process of a fashion company. This summer, ModCloth celebrated launching their 1,000th sample and finally surpassed ten million customer votes!

What ModCloth has found is that customers who participate in Be the Buyer spend more time on the site and purchase more, but more importantly, it compels them to visit the site daily to vote on new items, share those items with their friends, and check back in to see if their choices were voted into production.

The feedback ModCloth get from their voters help the company (now with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, PA) alter the specific samples with changes to fabric, color, length, design and construction, but most importantly, it helps them make better decisions about demand for future selection on BTB. ModCloth told me: “We not only share the feedback on the items with the designers, but also with our internal buying team, so ultimately the BTB voters’ feedback plays a huge role in the selection of styles we sell on ModCloth and helps us make better decisions about how deeply we buy into certain styles.”


Since the launch of the program, the online retailer has had great collaborations with well known contemporary and indie designers, such as Tulle, Stop Staring, Bernie Dexter, Eva Franc, and Knitted Dove. The collaborations have further engaged the BTB community and reflected in higher total votes per style as well as more comments. In addition, their weekly updates on Facebook about the program have become some of the most successful, with a recent post garnering 680 comments and 133 likes.

“We’re so proud of what the program has already accomplished and excited to grow it even more in the future.” said Alicia Barnes.

The Proof Is In The Statistics – And We Have Them!

  • Average No. Of Votes: 6786 per item since the launch of BTB Program
  • Average No. Of Comments: 307 per item since the launch of BTB Program
  • Total Votes To Date: 5,810,231 total votes on BTB Program
  • Total Comments To Date: 250,288 (4.3% of votes) on BTB Program; an average of 2.4 comments per user
  • Total Number Of Voters: Over 105,000; 11% of users have voted on at least one BTB sample.

To date, ModCloth has launched over 1,000 samples. The highest total VOTES sample was Sample 763 (featured above) with 12,718 votes. The highest PICK it votes was Sample 774 with 8,857, which is 78.85% of the total votes for the style (featured above). The most COMMENTS sample is Sample 927 with 1,365, which is 11.1% comments of total votes (the average is 4.3% comments/votes)

Using Customer Feedback To Remake A Product

One of the biggest successes was Sample 773, which relaunched as Sample 815 after user feedback on the construction and ruffles. The relaunched and altered sample was able to increase:

  • 13% total votes (total 12,127)
  • 573% Pick it votes (total 7,766)
  • 28% total comments
  • 629% in Pick it comments (861 comments)

Currently ModCloth averages at 65,000 total votes per week, during the collaborations they’ve have seen a 40% increase in total votes.

So FMMers, what do you think of ModCloth’s crowdsourcing successes? What techniques and strategies have you used in order to build loyal, feedback heavy brand advocates?