Start-up of the month: Smithfield Case

Each month, technology entrepreneur Farhad Koodoruth will scour the start-up scene for the most interesting new companies making waves in their respective industries. This month, meet online retailer with a twist, Smithfield Case.

by Farhad Koodoruth
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

What is Smithfield Case?

Essentially, it’s a personalised online shopping service for men. You create an online profile with brand preferences, sizes, styles and so on and the personal stylists send you a case of clothes based on your preferences for free - you only pay for what you want to keep. The aim is to provide a seamless, hassle-free shopping experience.

How did you hear about it?

On the grapevine. There aren't that many interesting retail propositions focusing on the male market and, while there have been a raft of 'me too' online subscription businesses selling shoes or snacks (think Glossybox or Graze.com), this is a wholly different proposition. Smithfield Case has learned from the trials and tribulations of Trunk Club, so it isn't trying to make men pay for a clothing subscription. Instead, you pick a price range (£75 and up) and you keep any items worth that figure. 

Who is it aimed at?

Urban (if you live in central London they will pick up and drop off the cases like a concierge service), over 25, time poor, cash rich, men who are bothered about how they look but less bothered about how they go about achieving it. Either that, or their wives/girlfriends/partners want them to look better and sign them up... Frankly I like someone else choosing my clothes while I watch Sky Sports all day.

What makes it interesting?

The personalised service aspect is really nifty. Over time, Smithfield Case gets to know your likes, dislikes, and the individual quirks of your size and shape. The first delivery might be a bit painful but once you've sent back something ill-fitting, the service will remember that certain sizes or cuts of clothing don't work.

What are the challenges?

Getting the personalisation elements right and the recommendations right. Smithfield Case's customers will want to receive the kind of stuff they would normally buy (we all do this, right? Buy the same brands over and over again?) but will also want to be challenged with new things. With such a tailored service, it will be interesting to see how the business scales too. As with many online businesses, the barriers to entry are very low. Capturing market share early will be incredibly important and for real scale the international adaption (if they are planning one!) will be crucial.

Flash in the pan or here to stay?

The male retail market is worth more than £13bn a year already and there is definitely scope to make our shopping experience more pleasant. Smithfield Case could be in the vanguard of this new wave.

Would you invest in it?

Yup, sure would.

Find out more about Smithfield Case

Farhad Koodoruth is the founder of digital media agency Blowfish Digital.

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