We’re Trying to Build the Amazon Prime of Rental, Says Rent the Runway CEO

Mar 22

“You will see the continuous expansion over the next year into many different categories,” says Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman. The company just raised additional funds at a $1 billion valuation. “Anything that you do not use every single day, we want to make it fiscally irresponsible for someone to not have a subscription to Rent the Runway. We’re trying to build the Amazon Prime of rental.”

Jennifer Hyman, CEO of Rent the Runway, discusses in an interview on CNBC how her company benefits from the growing sharing economy and how ultimately she envisions Rent the Runway becoming the Amazon Prime of rental:

We Benefit From the Advancement in the Sharing Economy

It’s been 10 years since we’ve been working hard to pioneer this new form of dynamic ownership. Ten years ago we were not a darling of the industry and really had to partner with designers to show them that this was an entirely new customer base for them and a new revenue stream. This is just how young people are thinking about ownership across the board. I actually think we benefit from the advancements in the sharing economy. If you think about how this concept of dynamic ownership where we have unlimited choice and the ability to use whatever product we want whenever we want it, our digital worlds have already moved there.

That’s how we consume entertainment. That’s how we consume music. The idea that you would have that closet in the cloud for the physical world and that form of dynamic ownership, the Millennial Generation Z consumer is so ready to adopt this behavior. That’s what we’ve seen since we launched our subscription, just this dramatic growth and acceleration, not only in how many users we have but in how frequently they use the product. They’re using it 120 days of the year with the unlimited subscription, which is now 70 percent of our revenue.

Dynamic Ownership Applies to the Closet, the Home, and Beyond

Think about how frequently millennials are moving and how your home has become this new bastion of self-expression. Your home used to be a private space and now because of social media, it’s as public as you taking photos of yourself every single day. So the ability to continuously dynamically change your home and have new items arriving we really think that this idea of dynamic ownership applies to the closet, the home, and beyond.

Think about all the things that you don’t have to use every single day and bringing that into the physical world and think about the sustainability of this as well. The millennial and younger customer really cares about the fact that there’s a huge amount of waste. Over 80 percent of the closet is not used regularly. So to create a new contract with the customer where she could have the variety that she wants but she doesn’t have to accumulate all of this stuff that she doesn’t use. You couple that with the fact that this younger generation is living in cities where you don’t even have the space to house all of the extra stuff that you might have put in your garage.

We’re Trying to Build the Amazon Prime of Rental

It (revenue) really depends on the item. That metric changes every year based on our cost to serve, which goes down every year. It also matters what cost we procure the inventory at. We started a model last year which is a platform where brands are giving this inventory on consignment and we actually are revenue sharing with them on that inventory. It’s our own version of fulfilled by Amazon and it’s now a new revenue monetization stream for the 600 brands that we work with.

You will see the continuous expansion over the next year into many different categories. Anything that you do not use every single day, we want to make it fiscally irresponsible for someone to not have a subscription to Rent the Runway. We’re trying to build the Amazon Prime of rental. Rent the Runway is primarily a logistics company. What we really do is we restore physical goods to perfect condition before we send them out to the next customer. We now know all of these different data points about any given fabric, how to restore it to perfect condition and how to maximize the turns while it still looks brand-new.

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