Many people would love a personal stylist to find clothes that fit well and look great, without all the hassle. You don’t have to put in a ton of effort, but you still find style that suits you. But hiring a personal stylist is a pipe dream for most people. So instead, we stick to shopping as we know it.
We try on a dozen pairs of jeans at the mall, shimmying our way into each. We opt for cheaply-made clothes because that’s what’s available and on-budget. Or, we spend hours upon hours online searching for the perfect pair of shoes, only to return them.
Kristina Lake, the founder and CEO of Stitch Fix, recognized that buying clothes was difficult for many and the retail industry hadn’t changed much to fill in the gaps. Apart from buying clothes online, we still shop for clothes the way we have for years. When the rest of the world was innovating and moving digital, much of retail stayed stagnant.
That’s why Lake forecasted changes in shopping habits and digital lifestyles and started Stitch Fix to meet customers where they were.
Stitch Fix is an online clothing service that ships clothes to your door, personalized to your style. All customers have to do is answer questions about their style, and bam – curated clothes arrive on their doorstep.
Stitch Fix listens to their customers and adapts to our modern digital lifestyles. And it seems to be working: Stitch Fix increases their client base by 17% each year and currently serves more than 3.5 million customers.
That’s why we’re crushing hard on Stitch Fix this month. We’ve done the research and found four tips from Stitch Fix that you can use to build your own program for customer experience improvement.
1. Simplify every step of the customer journey
Stitch Fix knows you could just go to the nearest Target or hop online to shop for a sweater. But they also know that shopping for clothes is often a hassle. How many times have you run to the mall to find a pair of jeans, and 10 stores later, you leave empty-handed? Or how often do you drop clothes in your online shopping cart and talk yourself out of every item? (…yeah, you caught me!)
Though shopping can be fun, it’s also a huge time-waster. And it can leave people frustrated without solutions to their “what shall I wear problem”.
Stitch Fix solves for this frustration by simplifying the customer experience. Now, every step of the buyer journey is straightforward and simple.
When you sign up, you take an easy (and fun!) quiz on your style. You can even preview outfits and rate how well they match your style preferences. Once you’ve completed the sign-up and survey process, all you do is wait for your first box to arrive.
Stitch Fix ships a box of five items of clothing and accessories for you to try. If you don’t like some of them, you can return them in a prepaid mail envelope that’s included in the box. No wasted time printing shipping labels and running to the post office.
Stitch Fix puts the customer first. Everything the company does revolves around making your journey as easy as possible. No wasted time with decision paralysis or figuring out how to return online purchases when you don’t have a printer or shipping boxes on hand (who does, really?).
If you want your customers to stick around like they do with Stitch Fix, simplify your customer journey. Make the customer your focus when making business decisions. Work out the kinks in your customer journey that waste customers’ time or frustrate them. Take advantage of digital tools that streamline your processes so your online experience is straightforward.
2. Collect data–lots of it–and make it work for you
One of the main reasons for Stitch Fix’s wild success is how their ops team depends on data through machine learning. Stitch Fix relies heavily on collecting and analyzing data from the retail industry, fashion trends, and customer feedback.
As CEO Kristina Lake says, “Data science isn’t woven into our culture; it is our culture.”
Over 80 data scientists track and review style trends, preferences, sizing info, and inventory. Through this data, Stitch Fix data experts determine what styles typically work for each type of customer.
Stitch Fix figured out how to get their customers to willingly offer up a lot of data to build these preference profiles, too. In the initial style quiz, customers reveal all kinds of helpful info. They tell Stitch Fix everything from how long they take to get ready, to how much they’ll spend on items, to how much they enjoy (or hate) shopping. After each box shipment, Stitch Fix asks customers for feedback. But the feedback request isn’t an annoying survey that feels like it only benefits the company. It’s a survey that directly benefits the customer. The more feedback customers give Stitch Fix on their clothing selections, the better the next box of clothes will be.
This emphasis on data has made Stitch Fix what it is today. And many other retail stores are fighting to get some skin in the game. Data science is only becoming more important as more industries go digital. If you want to stay ahead of the curve in your industry, analyze your data, and then let it lead your program for customer experience improvement..
3. Personalize the buyer experience
Customers crave a personalized experience with their favorite brands. They want to feel known. And Stitch Fix is an absolute master at personalization for its customers.
Stitch Fix uses both data and human input to tailor each buyer experience as much as possible. And the genius part is that the longer you’re a customer, the more personalized your experience becomes. The company learns your preferences over time as you give feedback and continue buying items.
While Stitch Fix uses machine learning to understand its customers, they also use human input. Expert personal stylists analyze and review data for each customer. While algorithms make initial clothing suggestions, the human touch isn’t lost. Stylists can override suggestions and be more selective for their customers. Especially when it comes to choosing outfits for life events or special occasions.
Don’t like some of the items you end up with? Stitch Fix stylists ask you to explain what didn’t work and why. So if you get another box of clothes, your items will be even more tailored to your preferences.
Like Stitch Fix, consider ways to personalize your customer experience. Train your agents to use personal language when talking with customers. And ask for feedback from your customers so you know what needs work. Let your customers know their feedback matters, too. Customers notice when companies listen to their concerns or suggestions. Then, they’re more willing to take customer surveys and give input in the future.
4. Always look for ways to maintain customer loyalty
Stitch Fix wants loyal customers. (Who doesn’t?) The Stitch Fix customer journey encourages customers to stick around by rewarding long tenures. The more you use Stitch Fix, the more personalized and better your experience.
While a lot of online stores try subscription-based models to keep customers locked into a contract, Stitch Fix steers clear of that. They opt for voluntary loyalty, instead. There are no hidden fees or long-term subscriptions required to try Stitch Fix. If a customer only wants to try one box and never use the brand again, that’s ok.
But Stitch Fix offers incentives for those who do sign up for a subscription. For one, customers get better clothing boxes the longer they’re loyal. But they also get incentives like referral discounts and exclusive offers if they do opt for a subscription.
Stitch Fix also tries new things to keep customers happy and engaged. They pay attention to customer expectations and current trends to determine what customers really want. The company recently added a “Shop your Look” feature, which allows existing customers to find items that pair with what they already have in their closets. The company is constantly innovating and making strategic decisions to benefit customers.
Summed up, listen to your customers and pay attention to changing customer trends. Your customers will be more loyal if you keep up with the times and make bold changes, building a long-lasting program for customer experience improvement.