Crowdery (YC S13) provides AB testing for a brand's physical products

Clothing sales can be awesome, but they can also mean racks on racks of ugly shirts that no one wanted to buy. While some customers will scoop a deal, inevitably someone gets stuck with a bunch of unwanted inventory. Crowdery, a Y Combinator startup, offers an e-commerce tool to help brands test out product designs before production to decrease surplus inventory.

Crowdery helps companies host contests, which last 10 days, on their websites to determine the most popular styles. Co-founder Maran Nelson says this approach is bringing A/B testing to physical products. While software and online platforms can beta test products before launching, industries such as clothing, furniture, jewelry and consumer electronics will end up slashing prices on unwanted inventory and losing profit.

“You have [companies] producing physical products, where these people are literally crossing their fingers and blindly making big financial decisions that they can’t iterate on,” Nelson tells me. “So we’re trying to step in and bring the user to the product at a point in the production cycle that’s still relevant.”

After a brand signs up, Crowdery sets up a white box widget for the company website, featuring several different styles for consumers to vote on. Participants are then asked for an email, age and gender, or to log in with Facebook. After the contest ends, anyone who voted for the most popular choice has the option to pre-order the item at a 30-50 percent discount. Crowdery then takes a percentage of pre-order sales.

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