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Stores Represent a ‘Second Act’ for M.M.LaFleur’s Burgeoning Resale Program

M.M.LaFleur has partnered with Archive to bring its Second Act resale experience into stores.
Photo credit: M.M.LaFleur

M.M.LaFleur has garnered a loyal following for its elevated essentials and fashionable workwear. With best-sellers ranging from a $175 washable silk tank to a $365 buttoned dress, the brand’s items are lauded for their quality and long shelf life, which makes sustainability and longevity powerful marketing pillars that the brand consistently taps across channels.

“Our goal has always been to embed sustainable solutions at every point in our customer’s clothing lifecycle — whether by making machine-washable pieces so she doesn’t have to go to the dry cleaner or sharing content about ways to extend the long life of her M.M.LaFleur pieces through proper care,” said Katie Twidwell, VP of Operations and Sales at M.M.LaFleur in an interview with Retail TouchPoints.

As an extension of this mission, M.M.LaFleur first ventured into resale in March 2021, fulfilling a pent-up need as shown by strong demand for the brand on third-party sites like Facebook and Poshmark, Twidwell explained.

This ultimately inspired the brand to partner with solution provider Archive on its online resale experience, Second Act, to provide customers “with an easy and sustainable way to clean out her closet when a piece no longer serves her,” she said.

Due to its success thus far, M.M.LaFleur recently brought Second Act into its stores, creating an easier way for consumers to upcycle items and repurchase from the brand. Second Act has seen double-digit revenue growth since its inception, with more than 50% growth over the last year alone.

To keep pace with this rapid expansion, M.M.LaFleur and Archive piloted a new service to repair lightly used inventory from photoshoots, stores or returns and sell it directly on Second Act, instead of through its annual sample sale in New York. By supplementing our customer inventory with refreshed inventory, the brand was able to increase Second Act sales by 40%.”

Second Act Reinforces Brand Loyalty Among ‘Super Fans’

Initially, Second Act served as a strong retention channel, offering existing customers an easy way to upcycle styles. Consumers can seamlessly list items through the branded experience and receive up to 50% of the item’s retail value via cash or a gift card. Once an item is sold, M.M.LaFleur sends the seller a shipping label so she can easily send it to the final buyer.

However, if consumers don’t want to deal with the drawn-out resale process, M.M.LaFleur worked with Archive to also provide a trade-in experience, with consumers sending items to the brand and instantly receiving a gift card for 15% of an item’s retail value.

The core Second Act experience makes it easy for the brand’s super fans to clear out their closet and get new funds to purchase new M.M.LaFLeur fashions, and the brand quickly saw these super fans as the earliest users.

Up to 71% of Second Act customers are existing M.M.LaFleur shoppers, according to Twidwell. “In fact, our long-term customers love to use Second Act to find ‘vintage’ M.M. styles or pieces they missed out on the first time around,” she noted. “When they find a hidden gem, it’s a hot topic on our customer Slack channel, and our stylists will even help customers monitor Second Act in case any pieces they are looking for get listed.”

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Resale Also Attracts New Shoppers Seeking Quality at Bargain Prices

However, Twidwell and her team noticed an interesting evolution, especially as resale became more of a household term: resale has become a new acquisition channel for a larger pool of customers seeking to test the brand’s quality. In some cases, Second Act has provided consumers with access to the brand by making items more affordable. Nearly a quarter (23%) of Second Act customers have never shopped with M.M.LaFleur at full price before, Twidwell reported. Additionally, 6% of customers who shopped the brand via Second Act eventually purchased new, full-price styles.

“We’re increasingly seeing customers who are new to M.M.LaFleur shopping exclusively via Second Act or converting from Second Act purchasers to full-price customers who buy new M.M. styles in addition to secondhand ones,” Twidwell explained. “We’ve also heard from many customers who have never been able to afford shopping with us before that they’re now able to enjoy purchasing the M.M. pieces that they’ve always had their eyes on, which is incredibly rewarding.”

These behavioral insights have helped inform the brand’s approach to promoting Second Act. The program is embedded into its marketing from the very beginning of the customer journey, with new customers receiving messages about how they can use Second Act to get M.M.LaFleur products at a lower price. Conversely, the brand promotes Second Act to existing customers seeking to get rid of unwanted clothing in exchange for new items or cash.  

Photo credit: M.M.LaFleur

Extending the Resale Experience into Stores

Although Second Act already is quantifiably a huge success, M.M.LaFleur is moving forward with the program’s next big growth lever: in-store integration. The brand launched Trade In in stores in April 2024 following positive response to the online iteration, both to drive awareness of its resale offerings and to boost in-store sales. Customers can go to stores to trade in their styles for an upfront gift card payment of 15% of the style’s original retail value.

“The success of our repair and rehab program, which we were able to undertake with minimal operational burden, helped us to build the business case for launching Trade In, which is the first part of a broader initiative to integrate our resale program into M.M. stores,” Twidwell said. “We think bringing resale to stores is a great way to further increase the visibility of Second Act, bring increased foot traffic into our stores and give people more opportunities to shop secondhand.”

So far, the results have been positive: of the 503 trade-in items received, 90 of them came from stores. For Twidwell, this is an early indicator of what’s possible: “To us, it’s hugely impactful to think about the increase to in-store traffic we can generate through this program.”

To that end, M.M.LaFleur is considering the role that resale can play in the broader customer experience — especially in stores. “If we continue to see consistent demand in our stores, our goal will be to incorporate resale into store merchandising, either at key moments throughout the year when our customers are most interested in cleaning out their closet or on an ongoing basis,” Twidwell said. “We’re excited to layer Trade In, and in particular the call to action to visit a store to drop off preloved styles, into [our owned marketing] channels. We are also thinking about an ongoing events strategy to further give visibility to the program in stores.”

Creating a Brand-Relevant, Operationally Sound Experience

The most valuable part of bringing in a third-party provider to launch and manage the resale experience, according to Twidwell, is that Archive manages the operational components while ensuring the experience remains on brand. “Expanding access to our pieces to more women at a lower price point — without sacrificing quality or user experience — was an important part of our mission of supporting the success of all women, as was the sustainable aspect of keeping used clothing out of landfills,” she noted.

As Archive’s first brand partner, M.M.LaFleur also was able to be part of developing the customer experience and “ensuring it felt consistent with the experience we offer on the rest of our site, which was incredibly important to us,” Twidwell added. Additionally, Archive was able to integrate its own product data into the platform, so sellers can use all existing product imagery and descriptions for their listings. These capabilities, coupled with automatic price suggestions, make the selling process easy and seamless.

Having a strategic partner in Archive helped M.M.LaFleur tap into firsthand knowledge and expertise that ultimately shaped the structure and parameters of the resale strategy. However, it was Archive’s technical and operational capabilities that helped M.M.LaFleur create an experience that felt authentically embedded into the experience. This was a critical takeaway for Twidwell, especially because the brand initially kept its resale platform “relatively separate” from the core ecommerce site.

“My number-one piece of advice for brands considering launching resale now is to make it feel like an extension of your existing brand and sales channels,” Twidwell advised. “While the program grew naturally at the beginning, it really took off once we made Second Act easily accessible via the existing M.M. homepage and integrated resale more consistently into our owned marketing. Based on the immediate uptick we saw, it was obvious that our audience was interested in resale but didn’t even realize we had a program to facilitate it.”

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