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In a world of overwhelming choice, Lyst.com — an online fashion marketplace — is mastering myriad algorithms to cut through the chaos and offer clients tailor-made choices.
“Chris [Morton, Lyst’s chief executive officer and cofounder] was frustrated by how fragmented and unpersonalized e-commerce shopping had become,” said Miyon Im, head of product at the site.
“We have over 12,000 retailers and partners on the site, and we offer over 2 billion pounds [$3.4 billion] worth of product,” she said. “When a product goes on sale on a partner site, it goes on sale on Lyst as well. That’s lots of different retailers and categories, and we use that data to create a personalized shopping platform.”
Im said the site has invested heavily in computer-data scientists who are able to crunch information, which Lyst uses to make strategic decisions.
Lyst offers a “personalized product feed,” a recommendation algorithm that takes into account customer behavior, as well as past and recent purchases, to create a “taste profile” for everyone consulting on the site.
“I have never clicked on loafers — never bought them before,” Im said, describing her own experience with the personalized product feed. “I have never clicked on white patent leather loafers — or white patent leather anything.” Due to Lyst, she is now the owner of a pair of Zara ones. “I can’t explain it. I love them. And the only reason I’m not wearing them today is because they’re bunged up from so much use,” she said.
The site also offers a sales alert, telling customers when the price of a certain item goes down. Lyst also shares data with its affiliates, brands and retail partners.
“We know how many products sell at any given price. We know that when there is a 30 percent sale, there is a huge surge in purchasing, but not enough to make up for the loss in margins,” she said.
Earlier this month, the site started to weave content in with commerce. “We’re creating a platform for consumers as well as partners to bring their brand and voice and taste to the site. We’re putting visually engaging content alongside shoppable product,” she said.
Regarding the rise of mobile, Im said she and her team are seeing a lot of “snacking,” with customers spending short periods of time on their devices, but not really following through on purchases. “They are finishing those activities on their desktop, and we want to support how they act,” she said.
There is much opportunity, Im said, for optimizing the offline experience as well.
Lyst envisions passing on information about its customers shopping habits to brick-and-mortar stores so they can tailor their services to individuals: If a customer likes certain Dior outfits in particular, Lyst envisions calling ahead to ensure that said outfits are already waiting in the dressing room, ready to be tried on.