Shop Class – Touch of Modern

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Three years ago Jerry Hum and three college friends launched Touch of Modern, a men’s online discount shopping destination, after noticing that Web-based retail sites for men were rare. Today their site, which offers everything from furniture and outdoor activity gear to clothing, high-end watches and motion-sensitive bathroom nightlights, has more than 7 million registered users and has done almost $100 million in sales. Hum recently shared what makes Touch of Modern a go-to destination for guys, who, according to his thriving company’s stats, make up 42 percent of the now massive $300 billion e-commerce market….

Why did you start Touch of Modern?

No one was really serving our customer. A lot of the other e-commerce sites out there were really geared toward women and also discount shoppers and people who were looking for clearance items. We were really interested in high design and also things that appeal to enthusiasts and people who have hobbies and things like that. Men are niche and now nobody questions it. It used to be in the beginning that people thought men don’t shop for themselves and they don’t really buy. There wasn’t a destination out there that was really catered to them. Traditional retail in general is catered toward the way women shop. They’ve taken what is at the mall and they have put it online. Whereas with us we’ve explored how men shop, what they want and what grabs their attention.

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What sets Touch of Modern apart?

Our customers are really underserved. When they find a site like ours they really latch on. It’s something that really sticks with them. They return, on average, ten times a month. We actually release about 250 new products a day and we have about 5,000 different vendors total. The way we merchandise is not like a lot of other sites. For us it’s about what’s cool, what’s unique and what’s the story behind each product. And if it is interesting it is interesting. We sell across all different categories and all different price points.

What is your best-selling category?

Watches sell really well for us because those span a wide range of prices. And there is a real enthusiast community around them.

Who is the Touch of Modern guy?

He is 25 to 45 and lives in major metropolitan areas like New York or San Francisco and has some disposable income.

How do you promote the products featured on the site?

Mostly we do it by brand. We are looking for the most interesting stories that are out there. And it’s kind of like a daily feed of what is cool and interesting about what is being produced.

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How has the shop adapted over the years?

We constantly evolve with what we are putting out there. And that is the advantage we have over traditional retail. We are not locked into a season. We put it up. We are constantly getting feedback and that’s how we get better.

What are the delivery times?

They vary a lot. A lot of our stuff will ship very quickly. About a third of our stuff will arrive within a week and the rest of our stuff will be in the one to two week range.

What is the price range of merchandise on the site?

We will have something as inexpensive as two dollars all the way up to $50,000.

How would you describe the gist of Touch of Modern?

It is a treat. It’s not commodity goods. It’s not things that you need and are going to be at CVS. It’s stuff that is going to make you feel good. We sell wants.

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