The latest bankruptcies of big-name retailers – J. Crew, J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus – are the most recent example of the struggle traditional retail has been enduring for years.
The stay-at home orders and business shutdowns forced the issue: consumers turned to online shopping with stores closed in much of the U.S. According to data from Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, U.S. e-commerce jumped 49% in April, compared to the period in early March before shelter-in-place restrictions went into effect. While online grocery sales drove the bulk of that surge, online apparel sales increased by 34% as prices fell.
The launch of The Yes may be fortuitous. This month Julie Bornstein, former COO of Stitch Fix, launched The Yes, an AI-powered shopping platform that gives users a personalized shopping experience.
“We use AI and humans to build an experience that for the user is much more relevant to them,” Bornstein told Yahoo Finance.
How does it work? Consumers sign up on the app, answer a few questions about price points, sizes, and preferred brands. The questions help the app get a sense of the user’s tastes and budget. Based on your answers, the technology creates a customized store just for you. The more questions you answer, the better the platform gets at serving you recommendations.
“The Yes is a very extensive recommendation engine that understands every attribute,” Bornstein said. “We have about 500 attributes for every single product so we understand its price, its quality, its style, all of those things, so when we make recommendations to it factors in all of those things relative to you.”
Bornstein decided to postpone The Yes launch by two months to better understand how people will want to consume moving forward. She says May was the right time to launch because we’re already “stuck at home shopping.”
The Yes, which has raised $30 million, faces plenty of competition, from personalized shopping subscription services like Stitch Fix, Trunk Club, and Le Tote. Bornstein doesn’t seem to be worried. “I have spent 20 years obsessing over fashion shopping and women. And we have really spent the last two years building the most extensive taxonomy that exists in fashion.”
Kristen Tsoubanos is a production assistant at Yahoo Finance.
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