I hate shopping, but I love buying stuff at Bonobos. Their pants fit perfectly, and they're well-made. The (discontinued) polo shirts I got from them a couple summers ago are my all-time favorites. Their suits look impressive, and if I needed a suit more than three times a year I'd probably own one of theirs.
Bonobos offers free shipping both ways on every order, so I routinely buy the same item in two or more sizes then send back the ones that don't fit. And sometimes, I send the whole order back. This is my kind of shopping!
But how is their business model sustainable? It has the feel of a late-90's internet venture: we lose money on every transaction, so we'll have to make money on volume! I think the answer is that the company is staffed by customer service superstars. They know that if they can delight every customer every time, then within a few years they'll have a choir of enthusiastic evangelists singing their praises.
I've called customer service a few times over the years, and I always leave the conversation feeling like I made a new friend who's empowered to give me free things or discounts.
Ever since Cyber Monday, Bonobos has been having some technical difficulties. Obviously, this is an inopportune time of year for an e-commerce site to start crashing. I love the way they've handled the crisis, though. In addition to the very candid aforelinked Quora article, they posted the image above on their homepage during outages, along with this apology:
Bonobos.com is experiencing technical issues that prevent us from offering the service level you deserve. We're truly sorry for that. Instead of asking you to spend time today wrangling with a broken website, we're offering a rain check on our Cyber Monday discounts. When we get things sorted, we'll shoot you an email offering the same great discounts.I can't imagine a better way to handle the situation. Well, except maybe with a personal apology from the CEO.