San Francisco based brand, Stitch Fix, was launched four years ago to fill a void in retail for customers who want a personalized and convenient shopping experience. Women have been raving about the service and its mission, and recently the brand has shared more insight into just how the marriage of data and shopping is a win for its business model. Here’s our take on why Stitch Fix has quickly grown to be recognized as a brand that gets it.

What sets Stitch Fix apart from other online ordering retail experiences is that it works hard to align customer preferences with the merchandise they are delivered in their “Fix” package, which can be scheduled on a re-occurring basis or as one-off shipments.

When a new customer signs up on Stitch Fix’s website, they are prompted to fill out a very detailed survey with questions that ask about their body type, fit and style preferences, life events, spending limits and more. While this survey may seem daunting for new customers, they should be quickly assured that their feedback matters after they receive their first Fix. A Fix is made up of five unique pieces of clothing or accessories that one of Stitch Fix’s stylists assembles out of items from more than 200 brands.

The data that Stitch Fix collects informs its stylists of a customer’s specific needs, wants, likes and dislikes. The more a customer uses the service, the more accurate their shipments will be. Harvard Business Review compares Stitch Fix’s algorithm to how Pandora works: “Algorithms produce recommendations for stylists who use their personal experience and knowledge of the customer to curate those recommendations to just five items per fix.”

“As you purchase, answer questions and/or communicate with your stylist, each fix becomes increasingly accurate.”

What’s interesting is that Stitch Fix’s business model predominately relies on the accuracy of its algorithm. Stitch Fix founder and CEO Katrina Lake noted to Business Insider, “The algorithm will often be better than a stylist in determining what a customer will like.”

Customers who order a Fix only pay a $20 styling fee per shipment. If they choose to purchase one or more of the items in their Fix, that $20 is applied as credit to the purchase. If the customer chooses to keep all five items in their Fix, they get to celebrate with a 25% discount on the entire purchase, an incredibly enticing perk if you’re on the fence about one of the items. If the customer is unhappy with the Fix, they can return the entire package and will only be charged the initial $20 styling fee.

This model speaks to Stitch Fix’s confidence in its methods and mission to make every customer’s shopping experience as personal and convenient as possible. Perhaps what’s most important to Stitch Fix is gaining an understanding from unhappy customers about why they chose to not purchase certain items. When a customer checks out their shipment on the website, they are given an “exit interview” with survey questions they can answer about why they are returning those items.

The personal data that Stitch Fix is collecting from customers sets the brand apart from other retail companies and is a big enticement for buyers. Lake commented, “In traditional retail, stores know that some things sell and some things don’t, but they don’t know why. In our model we actually know why. If we have a sweater that doesn’t work, for example, we can isolate whether it was the color, fit, or fabric.”

As design and digital enthusiasts, it’s also a bonus to see the clean and inviting interface of Stitch Fix’s website and blog. The user experience is seamless and makes it that much easier for customers to enjoy their journey to personalized shopping.

Julie Bornstein, COO of Stitch Fix, spoke with the National Retail Federation about marrying data, tech and fashion. She commented on how mobile fits into Stitch Fix’s strategy, saying,

“We see about half of our clients signing up and checking out on mobile…We will continue to look to this channel as a natural extension of how we deliver a great service experience as we evolve over time.”

As more retailers, like Barneys New York, develop their product catalogs to work effortlessly on mobile devices, we’re interested to see if Stitch Fix will make a move to publishing its content to an app for customers. Stitch Fix is already publishing frequent content to its blog, and I know I’m not the only one who hopes to be able to peruse through a Stitch Fix app for outfit inspiration that I can save to my Pinterest board and share with my stylist. With the brand’s focused eye on data collection, a mobile app with offline capabilities seems to be an optimal next step in Stitch Fix’s brand journey. 

Stitch Fix has proven that data is the common thread that weaves together fashion and technology to create a retail experience that keeps customers coming back for more. We’ll be keeping up with Stitch Fix to see just how it will continue to evolve and shape that experience for customers.

Do you agree that Stitch Fix is a brand that gets it? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

Images courtesy of Stitch Fix, Office and @stitchfix, all rights reserved.