Trying to recreate that ultra-personalized atmosphere of a boutique owner who knows the clothes that will look best on you, some E-Commerce sites want to try and recreate those recommendations high-tech style. The New York Times profiled some of those sites, asking whether such efforts can morph the ultimate impersonal Web site into something far removed from one size fits all.
“Stitch Fix (is) a women’s clothing retailer that sends its customers boxes of clothes that are picked by a combination of personal stylists and big data. It is one of a handful of start-ups making aggressive bets that highly personalized online shopping, in which sites choose items for you based on your preferences and their algorithms, can deliver a better e-commerce experience,” the story noted. “With these new personalized shopping sites, the magic comes from data. The sites learn about you and then compare your information with profiles of thousands of other people like you to predict what you might want to buy. People using Birchbox tell the company their skin color, hair type, age and favorite types of products, for example. The company compares that information with other profiles, sees what those people are most likely to buy, then fills a box with beauty samples that match those preferences. Full-size versions of the products can be bought on the site.”
The trick to making this work, though, is to go beyond a pure data-fueled predictive system, akin to what Amazon uses to recommend products. These sites use the analytics to start, but human teams of stylists and other specialists still make the recommendations and connect with the shopper. “Ultimately, though, a human stylist chooses items from the computer-edited list and packages them into a nice little box with a description of each one and a personal note explaining what you have received and how you might wear it,” the story said.