Jul 25 | 5 min read

Rent the Runway: Setting the Trend for In-Store Experience

While looking into a variety of iOS-based solutions, Rent the Runway tested Aila’s Interactive Kiosk with TrueScan technology. After a pilot in the company’s flagship NYC store drew immediate positive reaction from customers, the Interactive Kiosk was rolled out across all Rent the Runway locations.

Aila Staff

Rent the Runway sits at the top of a new class of startup—the digital subscription service. The “closet in the cloud” provider lets members rent clothing for a monthly fee. Think Netflix in its early years—you open up the app or website, choose the items you want, and wait for them to arrive in the mail. 

As a highly successful digital native, the company sought new opportunities to grow its footprint and to streamline the customer experience. By leveraging physical stores, Rent the Runway could do both.

Develop a fast & user-friendly checkout and returns system that could scale with the quickly growing company Aila’s Interactive Kiosk with TrueScan technology to streamline returns and checkouts A 4x increase in returns processing capabilities, a boost in CX and an expansion to off-site locations like WeWork and Nordstrom


Build an in-store experience that’s as convenient and seamless as online shopping

One obstacle faced by nearly all rental services is the returns process. Today’s consumers expect their experience to be quick and convenient—done in a few taps on their smartphone. The reality is that shipping and returning clothing takes time. 

For Rent the Runway members, the time spent waiting for their items to make it back to the warehouse—when they can unlock their next rental—is a point of frustration.

Rent the Runway, WeWork, Aila

To streamline the returns process, Rent the Runway sought to use its physical stores—and a growing number of network locations—as rental drop-off centers. However, having employees scan in each item by hand would require a high-touch process that causes bottlenecks at the front desk. Those employees could otherwise be helping with more valuable customer interactions—clienteling, membership sign-ups, etc. Customers needed a self-service option. 

More specifically, Rent the Runway needed to find a way for customers to quickly scan the tiny barcodes located on the label of each of the nearly half-million clothing items that the company keeps in rotation. This would allow customers to return rental items or check out new items at the physical locations with ease.


Further, as Rent the Runway primarily sees itself as a tech company, it needed a hardware solution that could evolve and integrate with the apps that developers were designing in-house. It needed a platform partner that would enable innovation, such as using the kiosks for checkout as well as returns.


A rental returns and self-checkout kiosk that checks off all the boxes

While looking into a variety of iOS-based solutions, Rent the Runway tested Aila’s Interactive Kiosk with TrueScan™ technology.   

The Interactive Kiosk was the perfect combination of intuitive, powerful, and versatile—intuitive enough for customers to be able to complete their returns in seconds, powerful enough to handle Rent the Runway’s tiny barcodes, and versatile enough for rapid in-store innovation.

“Aila’s scanning speed, accuracy, and design are far beyond anything else we have seen.” VP of Engineering for Rent the Runway Hampton Catlin

By deploying Aila’s scanning-enabled Interactive Kiosk at its flagship store, Rent the Runway learned that it could minimize low-value interactions for sales associates and enhance the customer experience simultaneously.

The Aila solution checked all of the boxes: 

Fast and intuitive user experience
Sleek and on-brand design
Able to scan small barcodes quickly
Versatile enough to switch to new solutions, like checkout
Ready to scale with the company as it grew

“We deployed the demo units into our flagship store and the customer response was immediate and dramatic,” said Hampton Catlin, VP of Engineering for Rent the Runway. “The units looked great and functioned well. So, we immediately got on the phone and ordered units for all of our stores.”


Faster stores, happier customers, rapid expansion


Since adopting Aila’s Interactive Kiosk, Rent the Runway has been able to exponentially increase the efficiency of its stores. “We’ve been able to handle four times the amount of customer returns traffic thanks to the speed and accuracy of the hardware,” said Catlin.

Customers are also loving the new self-service options, which allow them to eliminate the return shipping gap between sending their clothing back and receiving new items. In this way, Aila’s Interactive Kiosk is streamlining the entire supply chain cycle. 

As part of its brick-and-mortar expansion, Rent the Runway has partnered with enterprises like WeWork and Nordstrom to further improve the customer experience by letting its members return items where they work and shop.

Looking forward, Rent the Runway plans to continue expanding its retail footprint and grow its network of drop-off locations with Aila’s Interactive Kiosk. 

Read the full results of the case study here:

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