During a keynote session yesterday at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show in New York City, Elizabeth Spaulding, CEO of Stitch Fix, discussed how the styling service for women, men and kid's is evolving from its "Fix" box business into a personalized online shopping destination.
Spaulding was interviewed by Lauren Thomas, retail reporter at CNBC. The pair discussed a number of topics related to Stitch Fix's business as well as the retail apparel landscape. Below are highlights from Spaulding's responses, including her thoughts on the launch of Stitch Fix Freestyle, a new shopping experience where anyone can discover and instantly purchase items that are thoughtfully curated for them based on their personal style preferences, fit and size, without signing up to receive a Fix box.
The Launch of Stitch Fix Freestyle
Spaulding made the analogy that the debut of Freestyle is akin to Stitch Fix moving from DVD to streaming. Freestyle is designed to ensure consumers receive personalized, predictive online shopping experiences. Spaulding noted that Stitch Fix shoppers are looking for fashion inspiration from the brand's stylists, to engage with the community, and to ultimately get products that they love.
Unlike other online shopping destinations, Stitch Fix customers don't have to sift through the retailer's entire product catalog to find what they love. Stitch Fix Freestyle reflects the consumer's personal style, serving up items in their size and fit. As Spaulding noted, Stitch Fix wants to be recognized as the global destination for personalized shopping and inspiration.
Shifting Apparel Landscape
According to Spaulding, Stitch Fix was well positioned to weather the headwinds the pandemic has brought to the retail industry. The company had no debt and a lack of physical stores, while having already established digital relationships with its customers. Spaulding noted evolving consumer preferences when it comes to apparel buying during the pandemic, citing an increase in requests for work-from-home apparel options and an increasing shift to athleisure, the fastest-growing segment of Stitch Fix's business.
"Bottom up demand signals are helping to ensure we have the right product," noted Spaulding.
Private-Label Brands vs. Third-Party Brands
Stitch Fix saw an opportunity to create owned brands based on white space in the market.
"We know consumer preference data, and we used that to create private labels in support of the great national brands we sell," Spaulding said.
In addition its private-label brands, Stitch Fix is adding new product categories and deeper collections from its national brand partners. The goal is to bring the best fit and joy to its customer through both owned and national brands, according to Spaulding.
The session ended with Spaulding identifying some of the goals that Stitch Fix has for the year ahead. A key priority is to grow the Freestyle business, which will help complement Stitch Fix's established Fix customer. Investments in marketing will help to fuel the growth of the Freestyle business. But at the end of the day, according to Spaulding, it’s just Stitch Fix, whether a Fix client or a Freestyle customer. Stitch Fix's existing customers as well as potential new ones can expect to see more in product assortment, easier access to stylists, and personalized experiences in 2022.
"Our motto is about adapting, learning and creating what’s right and great for you [the customer]," Spaulding said.
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