My latest article for editorial website CIO Dive profiles Cathy Polinsky, the CTO at Stitch Fix Inc. It’s the fast-growing (and now public) online clothing retailer known for having personal stylists — backed by data & style-matching algorithms — select items customers might love and deliver them in a box.
In about two and a half years, Polinsky has:
- doubled the size of her team so it could support, rather than constrain, the burgeoning business
- helped Stitch Fix expand into additional markets: menswear, plus sizes, “extras” (such as socks & underwear), and kids
- supported international expansion — starting with a launch in the U.K. later this year
- adapted systems to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and California’s privacy law
My favorite part of the article covers the clever way that this company gets additional data to improve it’s style-matching algorithm.
To gather even more clues about customer likes and dislikes, Stitch Fix developed an application called Style Shuffle. The Tinder-like game shows a series of clothing items and lets clients give each one either a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down — thus providing more data to feed the style-matching algorithm.
“Clients love it. It’s super engaging. It’s fun. We have over a billion ratings now on this platform. Over 75% of our active clients have tried it at least once. Clients who have played with Style Shuffle have better ‘keep rates’ — they’re keeping more items because we’re sending more relevant items and really getting their style,” Polinsky said.
The company must be doing something right: Stitch Fix reported net revenue up 25% from last year in the second quarter of 2019. The number of active clients increased 18% to 3 million — and on average they each spent 6% more than the previous year.