5 Lessons In Personalization From Stitch Fix

The company sends millions of items of clothing to customers around the world each year, but Stitch Fix isn’t just a fashion company—it’s a data powerhouse. The company has changed the retail shopping experience by curating individual boxes of clothing and accessories for each customer and allowing them to purchase and keep the items they want and send back what they don’t. Aside from the convenience factor, Stitch Fix has gained traction with its incredible personalization. No matter the industry, any company can take a page from Stitch Fix’s book to improve personalization in the customer experience. Here are five lessons in personalization from Stitch Fix.

1.     Use Data From All Sources

Modern personalization is rooted in data. In order to understand customers and offer a unique experience that truly meets their needs, companies must collect and sort through huge amounts of data. Stitch Fix collects a wide variety of data from customers, including their sizes, style preferences and lifestyle. This information comes from pictures, social media profiles, surveys and more and is run through a number of algorithms to pinpoint exactly what each customer is looking for. Instead of solely collecting one type of data, Stitch Fix uses a variety of data and sources to get the full picture of its customers.

2.     Leverage Feedback

Part of the beauty of Stitch Fix’s personalized approach is that customer feedback is built into the model. By allowing customers to decide which clothing and accessories to keep, the company and its stylists get automatic feedback about what each customer liked and didn’t like. Each customized box is followed up with a survey to provide specific feedback on each item, as well as opportunities for feedback in a number of other areas. Stitch Fix customers contribute feedback because they appreciate the collaborative effort and can see the results of their suggestions. That feedback plays a critical role in improving each box and maintaining the company’s astonishing six-month retention rate of around 30%, significantly higher than any other company in the space.

3.     Combine Algorithms And Humans

Many companies turn over all of their data analytics to computers and robots, but Stitch Fix brings in the best of both worlds with strong algorithms combined with human stylists. Stitch Fix employs more than 80 data scientists, most of whom have with Ph.D.s, as well as a massive team of personal stylists who work together to personalize each customer’s clothing and experience. The algorithms may narrow down what type of item a customer is looking for, but the final say of each item comes from a human to offer a personalized touch. By combining technology with humans, Stitch Fix gets the best of both worlds—the human aspect of shopping for the perfect item combined with the analytical approach to quickly sort through thousands of pieces.

4.     Automate At Scale

It’s one thing to create a personalized collection of clothing for a handful of people, but it’s another to do it for millions of customers. In order to offer a consistently personalized experience, Stitch Fix has to automate at scale. That means finding things that can easily be automated, such as customer feedback or inventory, and combining those with things that require more hands-on effort. Strategically deciding what should be automated ensures a sustainable personalization effort as the company grows.

5.     Apply Data Internally

Throughout Stitch Fix’s growth, data has stayed the foundation of the culture. Data isn’t used to simply personalize the customer experience; it’s also used internally to streamline processes and improve results. Using data to break down internal silos creates a company united in providing amazing personalized services. Internal data is used for anything from finding the most efficient way to sort clothing warehouses to putting employees in the right areas. Sharing data across departments puts everyone on the same page for a consistently customizable experience.

With its modern approach to data combined with a personalized effort that emphasizes humans, Stitch Fix offers a master class in personalization for all other companies. Finding innovative ways to collect and use data and build strong relationships with customers ensures the personalization efforts will be sustainable in the long term.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist and the bestselling author of The Customer Of The Future. You can learn more by signing up for her newsletter here.

First published on Forbes.com

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