The concept is simple: women can rent a dress from high-end designers for special events. After the event, they simply return the gown. This means spending between $50 and $200 instead of thousands.  The company also debuted a subscription service called Unlimited. It charges $99 monthly to rent up to three items at a time. Geared to women who want to refresh their wardrobe midweek—maybe multiple times during the week—the service lets customers create a queue of desired items that will ship based on when other items are returned. 
The key ways in which RTR captures creates / captures value is by offering customers the combination of (i) a huge selection of items (much more than could be found in any one retail store), (ii) the opportunity to rent clothing, (iii) an engaged community of users and (iv) a high-quality service.
- Huge Selection: RTR offers its customers an “endless” closet, consisting of thousands of items. It uses a highly developed online platform to accomplish this. When a user visits the company’s website, they have the option to search items by many types of filters, whether that be favorite designer, type of event (i.e., different types of events call for different types of dresses), type of material or color, etc. Without a strong digital platform, RTR would only be able to provide a limited assortment of items. While many e-commerce websites also have a large assortment of items, most do not have strong digital content. RTR, on the other hand, employs a large digital media team who is constantly uploading proprietary media (pictures, videos, etc.) for each item.
- Rent: A key component of RTR’s value proposition is that consumers can rent an item for a fraction of its purchase price. Compared to traditional retail, where customers purchase their items and only a few of them come back to the store through the form of returns, RTR needs to manage the constant flow of incoming and outgoing items. To accomplish this, they leverage a highly developed digital inventory management system to track each item. This allows them to update their online website with the latest inventory at any given point in time and ensure customers are only ordering items which will be available by the date they need it.
- Community: RTR has created a robust digital community of users. Their model is built around organic interaction with shoppers who are encouraged to upload photos of themselves to the site, along with reviews of dresses and experiences with the company.  These posts include their review of the product, how it fit them based on their physical characteristics and oftentimes include a picture of the individual wearing the item. RTR’s digital community is a key competitive advantage and helps them differentiate from other competitors (particularly e-commerce players).
- High Quality Service: RTR promises its customers that they will receive a dress which looks new and is always delivered on-time, if not early. To accomplish this, the company leverages a complex logistics platform, including purchasing, marketing/retailing, shipping, dry cleaning, and inventory management, all of which require digital technology. For example, RTR operates the world’s largest dry cleaning operation. Interestingly, the entire system is digital and RTR has the ability to track how far along a dress is in its cleaning process at any given time. This type of information through the help of technology helps the company stay ahead of potential quality problems and ensure each customer gets a quality rental service each time they order with the company. RTR also employs digital technology in its customer service platform, offering immediate video chat with customer service representatives, if desired.
To establish itself as a more attractive alternative to traditional retail, RTR will need to continue to develop its digital technology platform. Possible additional steps include:
- Digital Fittings: I imagine many women don’t enjoy shopping because it means having to try on many pieces of clothing in the dressing room. RTR has an opportunity to create a digital platform where women could enter their physical metrics or take a photo of themselves and see how different dresses might look on them.
- Improved Mobile Application: As more and more consumers make their purchases using mobile technology, RTR has an opportunity to develop a more robust mobile application to encourage users to make more of their rentals on the go.
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 American Express, “How Rent The Runway’s CEO Built an Empire in Two Years,” [Online]. Available: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/exclusive-qa-with-rent-the-runway-ceo-on-how-she-built-an-empire-in-two-years.
 CNBC, “Rent the Runway’s designer closet tops $800 million,” [Online]. Available: http://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/25/rent-the-runways-designer-closet-tops-800-million.html.
 “The Power of Digital Engagement: A Case Study on Rent the Runway,” [Online]. Available: http://www.buzzbinpadillacrt.com/the-power-of-digital-engagement-a-case-study-on-rent-the-runway/