Stitch Fix: Launching Direct Buying | In Practise

Stitch Fix: Launching Direct Buying

Former Senior Strategy Director at Stitch Fix


Executive Bio

Kaitlin Miller

Former Senior Strategy Director at Stitch Fix

Kaity is the Former Senior Strategy Manager at Stitch Fix. She enjoyed 3 years at the company and joined the Strategy team which incubated and led new offerings such as Men’s, UK, and the Direct Buying offering. Kaity is now Director and General Manager of Winc, the online wine company, where she leads their premium wine offering.Read more

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Interview Transcript

Disclaimer: This interview is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. In Practise is an independent publisher and all opinions expressed by guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of In Practise.

Kaity, what was your role and responsibilities at Stitch Fix?

I joined the strategy team at Stitch Fix which was interesting and different from many other companies. The team helped incubate and launch new company initiatives. It had deep cross-functional experience with all the teams, versus sitting with the C-suite, working on new ideas, presentation them and then handing them off. When I started, the strategy team had already launched men's shoes for Fixes and we were looking into new opportunities in the UK. I helped assess that but then focused my time on the launch of the direct buy channel.

What was the strategic rationale of rolling out direct buy?

Many areas which started with direct buy later became strategically important, but it came from hearing client feedback. They found things they loved in their Fixes, but they wanted to shop those things on their own, in new colors or another size. They also said their stylist helped them find new things, and they wanted more style options to wear in new ways. Getting more Fixes is limited with our systems, inventory and stylist capacity, and we found our existing clients wanted to shop independently once we had given them the confidence and ability to shop on their own with the advice and guidance of the stylist. Later on, we saw it was a huge opportunity for all shoppers, not only current clients, to shop with our algorithmic recommendations and transform the way we see that modern department store today.

How do direct buying customers differ from Fix customers?

It is a Venn diagram with existing Fix customers on one side, direct buy on the other and those who participate in both in the overlapping section. Some Fix clients never shop on their own and there are potential customers who were never interested in what they perceived a Fix or prescription shopping experience to be, but they like shopping online. That is an initial draw for those people but once they are in our ecosystem, they can potentially move to the middle of the Venn diagram, seeing the value of a stylist's one-on-one interaction.

How did usage patterns change for customers who adopted direct buying?

It was fascinating to see because when you launch something new, there are always super users. Those who had gotten hundreds of Fixes would buy hundreds of things in direct buy. We loved those customers but we wanted the people who bought one extra thing from direct buy, to buy more. We knew they were shopping other places so we wanted to know what they were looking for and how we could expand direct buy to give them more of what they were looking for in addition to their Fixes.

Fixes started on a set cadence where users maintained a relationship with their stylist who would push them to try something. They could tell the stylist they had an event the following week and needed a dress or pants. The daily or weekly active usage of shop is more serendipitous inspiration where they remember the sweater in their Fix from two months earlier and see it styled with a great pair of jeans. They will then buy those jeans which is a great way to infuse that newness into their wardrobe without a request from their stylist. It is more akin to optimizing the browsing experience and making it your perfect version of a shop, versus going to Nordstrom and seeing tens of thousands of things to filter through.

Can we walk through how the original direct buying experience worked?

In the beginning, we did not need another survey because we had the Fix survey. Customers could simply go onto our app and see the different features as we rolled them out. We started with 'buy it again' which was pretty simple. We knew the size and color of previous purchases, so could recommend new colors of already purchased items. We then went onto outfits which we called 'complete your look'. An anchor item was one purchase from a prior Fix, and we made a whole look around it with our algorithm to create an outfit. We tested the number of outfits to optimize for revenue and customer satisfaction and settled on 24. Customers got inspiration from past Fixes of new ways to style it, especially with older things. They could see the item would still be relevant with new things to make the outfit last longer.

How were the stylists involved in the original direct buying experience?

They were consulted to ensure we were going to get the experience right. They were also a foundational piece in helping to train our algorithm which outfits look good and which are more trendy. We also had a strong foundation from the data they gave us daily and the way they style their Fixes. That was critical input into the likely success rate of an item, and helped inform which items made the outfit cohesive.

When new direct buy customers sign up, Stitch Fix collects the survey data; how did stylists curate that shop for new potential freestyle customers?

I am not sure how the different categories show up today, or if stylists are involved but the shop curates anything you are looking for in several different categories. It could be pants/jeans in an item-based category, or event-based, such as work wear or a summer BBQ. In future, we can optimize based on the weather forecast for that day, and what we know from styling notes. It is endless what we can bubble up to the top for individual customers.

If there is no longer as much styling involved in curating the shop, could it all be automated based on user information supplied to Stitch Fix?

We do not use stylists to choose things for individuals; that would take too long. Instead, we take all of the cues from the work they have already done and optimize our algorithms. The more they click and look into things, that also helps refine the experience.

For new customers who are yet to make a purchase, how do your algorithms suggest products?

It is a cold start in the beginning. We might not know a totally new client; we know based on what they did in style shuffle, but it takes time to refine that. The more they play style shuffle, the better their personalized experience will be. In the beginning, it is more about merchandising and what we think will be popular and how you interact with that.

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Stitch Fix: Launching Direct Buying

October 27, 2021

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