Via here, and here. Thanks to David L for sending in the tip.
Maybe worth a revisit?
Tags: Bonobos, News
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Ordered a few things from Bonobos was never impressed.
Shirts were bad quality and two pairs of paints sizing was way off.
Pricing isn’t even that competitive.
This exactly I think is one of their problems. I think this is why they instituted the new ‘final sale, no returns’ rules to their sale section. That policy change, and now the pay for shipping change is quickly eroding my brand loyalty. They’re a company after all, I can only like them so much.
Right, these aren’t even Made in America clothes. As you did, I learned most of my sizes through trial and error, thanks only to their free shipping and returns. Without that I’d be lost. Any items I haven’t already sized I likely won’t ever try now.
Similarly, ordering an extra item in completely not your size to get the free shipping on the item you want, then returning the extra item in store feels just as dirty.
Look at it this way: Cost of shipping is a cost of doing business online for the retailer.
The Aiden Chino is terrific. I’ve got 3 pairs.
People could just manipulate the policy. Order enough to get free shipping and return the items that you never intended in purchasing in the first place. Return shipping is free and you would be credited to your original form of payment within 90 days.
In the end thats a lot of money they might spend dealing with credit card processing and restocking fees. I could be wrong though.
I’m done with bonobos. Fit is sporadic at best. Especially suits and blazers since they tend to chop them. I already wrote them an email and they responded with a blanket statement the same as on their website. Why risk a sight unseen product at that price
Interesting. That may be true, but like the Land’s End infinite return policy, I think Bonobo’s counting on the majority of people to follow the policy as intended. Honestly that’s a lot of work just to get a pair of pants with free shipping.
I agree, it would be a hassle. As a poor grad student, I’ll take that free shipping thou!
Pretty sure that won’t happen. For most retailers who have a free shipping @ X amount threshold, if someone buys X amount, then returns enough to fall below X amount, they credit your method of payment for the return, minus the free shipping you originally hadn’t paid.
Thanks. I wasn’t sure how that whole process went!
Nothing about Bonobos does it for me. It seems like everything they do can be had at J. Crew and other retailers for much less at a similar quality.
I don’t think this is necessarily a trend. Plenty of places offer free shipping above a totally reasonable amount (usually $50). And Bonobos’ limit is not totally unreasonable. I guess I just don’t understand what the premium covers. These are made overseas, just like other manufacturers. The quality seems fairly similar to what I’ve seem from other brands. The fit is excellent, and the customer service is awesome, which makes paying the premium over other retailers no problem in my book. Now they’re chipping away at the customer service, but leaving everything else the same. Bonobos filled an excellent niche that doesn’t otherwise exist in online retail- quality goods with premium service. If you take away the premium service, you start to compete with places like Banana, which can offer much cheaper prices on the same goods just due to volume.
Remember when a Bonobos ninja actually used to show up on comment-threads like this to offer the Bonobos perspective? Seems telling that we don’t see anything like that anymore.
I find this pretty much of an end of the line as far as ordering from them. The Travel Jeans are nice and their Friday slacks or whatever they are called are one of my go tos. But the ability to try on items risk free was the #1 selling point, in my opinion. The quality I can get from Nords or J Crew is equivalent without springing for extra shipping. Shame.
Considering all of these dumb policy changes in the past year or so….I am not surprised.
If you have a Bonobos store location near you, why bother with the online stuff?!
To be fair, those ninja stickers are awesome.
Comes down to two reasons, 1. It is a botique, so they don’t carry the full selection online, and 2. It is relatively close to me but not necessarily convenient to get to before it closes on weekdays, so if I see something online at work it is MUCH easier to snap it up that way and then return on the weekend if I choose.
Oh god, I’ve so done the not returning thing.
This is exactly my thought as well. I don’t mind paying a premium for something better, whether it be in clothing quality or ease of shipping/returns, but there is no premium to their sales model any longer.
For me, their chinos and weekday warrior dress pants really are stellar (fit and fabrics), but not at a 50% markup from other similar brands.
I think you hit it near the end there: Who is Bonobos competing with? In their eyes, I’d imagine they’re competing with J. Crew, who doesn’t offer free shipping online, which is where they get their price points from. Of course, J.Crew has brick-and-mortar locations, so as long as you’re near a store, you can bypass shipping costs. Gap brands don’t offer free shipping either, but the brick-and-mortars combined with its overall size, allow them to at least set a lower free-shipping threshold. It’s easier for them to offset increased shipping costs. Even Zappos is owned by enormous Amazon (and every time I order through their VIP site, which offers free overnight shipping, I wonder how much longer it will last), which I’m sure makes absorbing shipping costs easier as well.
Bonobos, however, isn’t nearly as large as Gap brands or J. Crew or Amazon. It also has no brick-and-mortar locations to subsidize its online business. All this is why I suspect what we’re seeing is a response to increased shipping costs. It used to be that lower overhead was enough to offset shipping for online-only retailers. Now, I’m not sure that’s the case. And I don’t see shipping costs, which are basically linked to fuel costs, decreasing any time soon.
Now, to answer your question about what the premium pricing covers, I don’t think it covers anything more than supporting a smaller business with a more curated line. They’ll argue, correctly I think, that customer service is still a premium service and free shipping is only one component of the customer service experience.
My inclination is that Bonobos is doing well and getting popular. Now their venture backers want to see some profits and loss leaders like free shipping minimized.
The Bonobos shop is more like a demo room. They stock their main items in a few colors and sizes to get your measurements and at the end, they bring you to their computer to complete the order. Taxes and everything still such as taxes applies normally. They don’t have much inventory there at all.
Wait, they’re hurting? Am I the only one who noticed they JUST released a women’s line, or offered 10k to a charity of Harbaugh’s choosing if he wears the pants (genius marketing)?
Maybe they need additional revenue to fund the women’s line. Or maybe the new line had so much invested in it that they are now hurting.
*shrug* It’s not like I was buying from them anyways.
Not for awhile now. I like the pants I have. But prices have crept out of control, quality is unimpressive, and messing with return and shipping policies skews the risk/reward of buying from an online retailer.
No, but in the past I haven’t minded. I’d much rather pay $60 for a pair of pants that I can easily and conveniently return until they fit perfect, and I know will fit my body. I recently purchased a pair of gavin fit chinos from BR, and I felt like I could open an affordable housing complex in the extra space by my knee. The difference in fit between Bonerbros and BR Gavins, both advertised as straight fit, was huge.
Seems to me you could eliminate a bunch of return shipping problems if you could be clearer on sizing during the order.
The first pants I ordered from them took 3 orders to get right. They are the best fitting pants I own, and when I want rock-solid pants I’m going back…but if they could come up with some way (maybe an interactive calculator using your actual measurements) it may only leave the majority of returns for people who didn’t like the style when they see it in person.
I know that’s a bit of a tangent, but thought I’d throw it out there. I’ve been wanting to buy their shirts but have been concerned about fit, and haven’t gotten around to being able to make an appointment at a guide shop.
I hope not, because IMHO, the women’s line is just terrible.
You’re not far off. I have a friend that works in one of the guide shops and just this week they capped commissions that sales people can make, citing getting to profitability as quickly as possible. It wouldn’t surprise me to see more of this behavior from Bonobos in the near future. Kind of a bummer, I wish they could be profitable without having to cut all the things that make them great.
Their slim fitting shirts fit great in the body (nice tailored cut) but I found that their arm hole were a little small and high. They looked great but didn’t seem to have comfortable movement. I just wish their regular shirts were a little bit more tailored in the body.
It reminds me so much of H&M….I wanted to purchase something for my gf when I heard about the line, but everything was just hideous. I saw a decent amount of shirts in the $200 range.
They have cut everything starting with daily deals / regularly available discounts and more recently investor / friends and family discount codes, generous returns policy, free shipping, etc. Only makes sense, and supports the rumors I’ve heard.
As a business person, I understand it. As a consumer, I hate it, but if it makes money it makes sense. They must not be. Get a solid run rate profitability without the noise of discounts, shipping losses, etc. and seek an exit.
Thank you. I really think I’m going to have to try them on in person now before buying.
Three years ago, this was one of the only brands with great fitting (albeit very pricey clothes). This couldn’t be further from the truth now, and they only seem to be getting pricier. Customer service was industry unique (return whenever, free both way shipping, etc), and has slowly disappeared over time. What makes them any different from any online retailer now, other than higher price (it’s not like any of this is US manufactured unless I’m missing something)? Suspect I’ll only sale shop this site now, if ever (alpha khakis, j crew slim shirts, h+m/LEC/Uniqlo basics are all WAY cheaper, equal quality, fit the same. For gentleman wear, macy’s has basic house brand slim cut suits/blazers now of the same quality at 1/3 the price. So what’s the point?)
edit: I mean “further from the truth” in the sense that MANY MANY retailers offer well cut, good fitting pants, which was bonobos initial “mission”. I still think they make great fitting, but super overpriced, stuff.
I’m one of a few Senior Ninjas here at Bonobos. Thanks for speaking up. Crucial as we roll this type of policy out.
This thread has had the serious attention of not only the Ninjas, but of the entire company. Cannot even begin to tell you how valuable this feedback is. Any lack of speaking up from a Ninja side only is a result of us really wanting to digest the scope of the opinions being shared here and in our personal email queue. Two days of digesting these really well thought out comments/emails has been enormously helpful, and beyond anything has reinstated the fact that we have a pretty boss customer base.
Just for the sake of emphasis, we really are appreciative of these comments, and will continue to listen intently and update customers if need be. Transparency continues to be the name of the game, but we don’t want to offer it haphazardly!
Hit us back if you have other questions. Here or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) is lovely!
Adam here, one of a few Ninja managers at Bonobos. Been watching this comment thread with enormous interest. Can’t thank you enough for your opinions. We’re listening, we really are!
To this specific section wanted to clarify how returns will work in regards to our new shipping charges. Exchanges are still free! If you choose to return your old product and exchange it for a different color (our website doesn’t currently allow that), just call up the Ninjas who will be able to place your replacement order with you over the phone, free of a shipping charge.
We will never deduct the cost of return shipping from your refund either. The only thing we won’t refund is the cost of shipping on your original order.
Hope that sheds some light on that piece at least. Keep these comments coming!
That’s a much more palatable policy, Adam. Thank you for clarifying. Obviously, I’d prefer free shipping or a lower kick-in point for free shipping, but knowing that exchanges are free eases some of the risk in trying new fits or styles.
After thinking it over, this might be a feature, not a bug. Bonobos is encouraging customers to order two pair if they’re not sure about the size, and send back the one that doesn’t fit. Or if a color’s a little hard to envision online, order the item in two colors, and send back the one that doesn’t work.
Interesting. Trying to get a profitable year or two on the books is pre-IPO behavior.
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