The Drum’s Industry Experts: Retail

  • Insights

Executive Creative Director, Rachel Wells, was asked by The Drum to share an emerging retailer that has impressed her over the past year, as part of their Retail Deep Dive.

If you haven’t read about what’s happening behind the scenes at Stitch Fix, I highly recommend doing so. It’s a brand that’s done everything possible to squash the empathy gap and truly put the customer at the heart of the experience. On the outside, it might look like a regular subscription box styling service, but beneath the surface is a fascinating mix of AI, algorithms and machine learning, crucially combined with human intelligence.

On starting the experience, customers are asked to answer basic questions about their style preferences, wardrobe goals and size requirements. This starts to build a customer profile, which, as they request a box, is fed through the recommendation engine that includes styling algorithms to help pick items and products that are right for them.

While it would have been easy for Stitch Fix to stop there, it recognized the importance of bringing humans into the curation and product selection process. Real-life stylists take the AI-generated recommendations and decide what to send the customer, enabling the brand to build a more personal and human relationship with its customers that’s strengthened by data. When the customer’s specially-selected items arrive, a written note from their stylist is included, which helps them feel like they’re receiving a money-can’t-buy, one-to-one, highly-personalized experience. They feel valued as a customer, quickly driving brand loyalty.

By bringing human stylists into play, Stitch Fix has recognized the need to inject a surprise, instinctive and emotional touch to the customer’s subscription box that data alone is never going to achieve. The system also gets more intelligent along the way. The more boxes a customer receives, the more it learns about their preferences and the items they are most likely to buy. It’s a fantastic example of a brand humanizing a digital experience to create a positive and long-lasting customer relationship.