How This Startup's Focus on Personal Touch Helped It Thrive
When a friend of mine, who absolutely despises shopping, could not stop raving about Stitch Fix, an online personal styling service for women, I knew I had to give it a try.
My first thought when looking at the website was, 'how can someone a million miles away really understand my style?' It works like this: you sign up, fill out a pretty lengthy questionnaire about your style/body, and voila, a few days later a box of clothes magically arrives at your doorstep. Then, you can decide what pieces you want to keep, and return the rest without being charged.
I like the way Stitch Fix works because for most women, shopping can be a stressful experience -- there are too many options, none of them fit right, and most of us can’t afford to hire a personal stylist.
I focused this branding column on Stitch Fix because I really admire all of the personal touches. Even though it is a big brand, the company takes the time to create an individual “fix” and experience for everyone -- this can go a long way in creating return customers. So, here are a few things we can all take away from the brand:
Anticipate your customers' fears. Stitch Fix CEO, Katrina Lake, talks about how they aim to eliminate the anxiety of shopping: “[Our customer’s] time is often limited, and they’re not always sure what new trends will fit and flatter their bodies, or what will go with the items are already in their closets. We want to take the guesswork out of shopping by sending women items that are not only in line with their personal tastes, but are also flattering to their different body types, and suit their lifestyles.”
Furthermore, she continues, “because they have three days to try things on, they can get feedback from their husband or their friends and have more confidence in what they ultimately decide to purchase. “
A lot of times, we purchase out of convenience. So, if you create an easy, stress-free experience for your customers, they will keep coming back.
Take the time to get to know your customer. We all live in a busy world, but you are aiming to get loyal fans, rather than just customers. You need to take the time to know the people that are buying from you.
Stitch Fix makes this a cornerstone of the whole process, starting with The Style Profile. This questionnaire gives the stylists the info they need to prepare “a fix”. Lake writes, “It was really interesting to see which questions women responded to well, and which ones didn’t work as well as we anticipated. For example, we originally asked women to identify their body type (hourglass, apple, pear, etc.). We saw women weren’t always able to correctly identify their total body type, but responded more accurately to questions about specific body parts. Thus, the 'curvy bottom' question was born! It’s become something of a signature question in our Style Profile."
After The Style Profile is submitted, the team continues to get to know the customer by looking at her social media accounts, and follows up the process with a survey about how they can do better. All of these touches go a long way.
Personalize the experience. I feel like a broken record when I say this over and over, but I can’t say it enough. Even in our digital world, successful businesses focus on customer service, and making their customers feel special. This should always be engrained in your business, if you want to succeed.
The two things that Stitch Fix does to go above and beyond are the personal thank you from your stylist and the style guide. With every fix, they include information about how to style the pieces in several different ways.
Lake says, “it’s also an important differentiator for us as a business -- it’s quite difficult to be able to offer a truly personalized human touch to each client in a scalable way. We’ve worked very hard over the past few years to grow and scale our operations to ensure the quality of each Fix, and maintain that personal connection we’ve established with each client."