As fashion retailers struggle to find the right balance between AI-based personalization and the personal touch, a new e-commerce platform aims to set the standard.
Launched on Wednesday, The Yes promises real-time personalization through an application-based shopping platform that offers complete product catalogs for 145 fashion companies, ranging from mall brands (Levi’s, Aritzia) to DTC players (Everlane , La Ligne) to the designer names (Prada, Khaite). When a buyer says yes to a style they like, similar styles will immediately increase in their flow – this is guided by a team of taxonomists led by Taylor Tomasi Hill, former fashion director of Moda Operandi and Marie Claire . The Yes will launch with a total of 73,000 styles, intentionally covering price levels based on the buying habits of modern consumers.
There are all kinds of interesting things happening in machine learning and fashion, but unless a company deeply understands the fashion category and the consumer, [AI] is not applied in a useful way, Julie Bornstein, founder and CEO of The Yes. Previously, Bornstein was COO at Stitch Fix, and before that, she was CMO and Chief Digital Officer at Sephora.
Likewise, you can understand everything about fashion and the consumer, but unless you know how to build the technology to support that, it’s really hard to be successful, she said.
To realize its vision of a platform that offers buyers a personalized shopping experience and an opportunity for discovery, while enabling brands to reach new customers, Bornstein has assembled a team of fashion leaders and technology. With Tomasi Hill, co-founder and CTO Amit Aggarwal, formerly director of engineering at Groupon, and Lisa Green, who led ad sales for Google’s fashion industry, joined The Yes.
The Yes has been hidden for two years and is slated to launch on March 25. Bornstein chose not to react due to a coronavirus, but ultimately chose to press Go this month, in the hope that home buyers will be intrigued by a new platform and a chance to play, she said. At the same time, she realized that the brand’s partners could benefit from the buzz surrounding the application. For the first month, tThe company donates $ 1 for each download to the Good + Foundation, helping families affected by the coronavirus.
Bornstein said the Yes brand partnership is somewhere between a wholesale partnership and an affiliate partnership. The company gets an “undisclosed share of revenue from each sale made through the app.” However, during the first two weeks after its launch, the company waives its commission.
The Yes team used the coronavirus lull for almost two months after the initial launch date to sign 10-15 more brands on the platform, including Acne Studios, Ganni and Alexander Wang. A social sharing option was also added to the app, allowing users to compare their yes lists with friends, and the ability to shop for full outfits presented on a single product page. The algorithm and search function have been refined, but there is still much to be done to perfect it, Bornstein said.
Five hundred beta testers helped pilot the experiment by providing feedback. They included friends of the brand and customers who signed up through the home page that currently makes up their website.– most of these customers heard about the company when news of its fundraising hit in October 2019. A web version of the experience is definitely on the roadmap, said Bornstein.
the Yes raised $ 30 million in two rounds from investors including Forerunner Ventures Kirsten Green and True Ventures Jon Callaghan. We raised a lot of money initially because we had to build whole technological systems that didn’t exist, said Bornstein. The business model, with low physical assets, guarantees that the company will be profitable and able to finance itself in the future.
The argument of brands concerned with brand alignment is that each customer experience and home page is different. If you’re someone who will never buy Gucci, you won’t have Gucci in your feed, said Bornstein.
But at the same time, the app is designed for customers to discover new brands and for brands to acquire new customers.
The traditional department store role no longer works, and acquiring customers through research and social media has become increasingly costly, said Lisa Green, director of brand partnerships.
When logging into the application for the first time, users must answer five sets of questions. These include What do you want to see in your feed? Fashion brands are listed as response options, intended to paint a picture of style, budget, buyers’ favorite brands, as well as ambitious brands. What do you never want to see in your feed? offers elements of style, such as the shoulder. Size is also discussed and the Yes explains the differences in size of the brands when personalizing the selections.
Tomasi Hill and his team laid the groundwork for the algorithms, which take into account the construction of the garment, the elements of the garment and the use cases, for example for work or going out – which is not currently happening. In addition, the team’s work ensures that the trends adapted to each user are prioritized in their flows. It’s based on the idea that the average Yes user is someone who knows and cares about fashion.
Each brand has a storefront on the app, which links to their individual brand Instagram account and contains a field for buyers to sign up for the brand mailing list. Bornstein said Instagram is not a competitor, despite its shopping features, because people don’t go to this channel with the intention of shopping. Tuesday, however, Facebook and Instagram Launch of shopsand launched other shopping tools that are slated to launch this summer. It’s complementary, because fashion influencers on Instagram are definitely a way for people to come up with style ideas, she said.
The Yes uses a dropship model, which means that it does not have inventory and that the brands ship the products from their own warehouses. Brand sites are integrated into The Yes platform, allowing automatic transfer of images and product information. Le Oui manages product tracking and other means of service via the application, e-mail and text, via the customer service platform. It offers free delivery and returns and expects a weak late return due to the direction it provides to customers.
The Yes will share relevant data with brands, including styles that attract “yes”, what users are looking for and if there are any issues with the fit. Although he collects a lot of data, Bornstein said The Yes has no private label aspirations and will instead inform brands of any white space to fill. Nor does it have defined plans to extend beyond women’s fashion to men’s fashion or the beauty category.
The company is banking on organic growth, with a buzz with an “upcoming” launch countdown on Instagram (where it has 59,000 followers). Additionally, he expects his extensive network of brands and industry friends to help spread the word – for brands, his assets ready for social media. Limited advertising includes “certain tests and games on digital channels.” The company expects to invest heavily in advertising until the app experience is improved.
But the rescheduled launch was not without challenges: the obstacles linked to the coronavirus prevent Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and Saint Laurent from the expedition to the United States, so these brands are temporarily labeled as coming. In addition, because the brands are promotions mode, the application was heavy with discounted goods out of the door. And that’s not to mention that the economy is down and consumers at home have little excuse to buy fashion.
With so many physical stores closed right now, the time for consumers to experiment with new platforms is actually quite good, said Bornstein. And we believe that providing a ray of hope and a vision for the future of retail is something that makes a lot of sense right now.
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