Farfetch is flexing its multitasking muscle, linking with personal styling start-up Wishi to bring AI and human-vetted style recommendations to shoppers.
The new service, which takes a page from the Stitch Fix playbook, brings new product suggestions to shoppers — as well as a new kind of exposure for brands on the platform — and fosters closer ties between customers and Farfetch, which gains a new trove of data to boot.
Farfetch already has a Private Client program that offers recommendations to the site’s very best customers, but Wishi will bring some of that same high-touch feel to Platinum and Gold members of the company’s Access loyalty program. Users will complete a questionnaire on their style preferences and then receive emails with product recommendations that make use of both AI algorithmic magic and human fashion judgements.
The program gives a window into the high-tech approach Farfetch has used to build real scale and momentum in the hard-to-break-into-world of designer fashion online.
Farfetch has cultivated ties and helped accelerate Wishi, which was launched in 2019 by cofounder and celebrity stylist Karla Welch, who vets and trains the stylists. After a pilot, Farfetch is now plugging Wishi into its platform for the U.S. and UK.
Wishi has digitally styled hundreds of thousands of shoppers and captured millions of data points along the way.
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Stephanie Phair, chief customer officer, told WWD that Wishi has been analyzing shoppers and spent “a huge amount of time finding out their behavior nudges” to be able to interpret answers on the questionnaire.
“With all of these questions there’s the answer that people give and there’s the things they actually do,” she noted.
“It’s very much part of Farfetch’s strategy,” she said “We’re able to work with a number of start-ups, we’re able to plug in innovation.”
Phair described Farfetch as a “service-oriented platform” that is modular in nature, making it easy to connect with new technologies.
“Technology is at the service of customer experience,” she said. “We test out and try out a whole lot more things than actually make it to the customer. Also, even before we begin to think through a potential partnership or a particular set of features, we start with the customer journey and what that customer’s needs are. And this has been a journey that Farfetch has always been on, but we’ve really amplified [that] over the past couple years. There’s such a thing as tech for tech’s sake and that is something that we’re definitely far removed from.”
So Farfetch is customer-obsessed on the front end and open ended on the back end, constantly testing and collaborating so it can evolve with customers as they shop both online and off.
This comes within a whirlwind of changes at Farfetch, which has teamed with Alibaba and Compagnie Financière Richemont in a mega partnership with the potential to change the luxury industry as it connects power brands with the potent high-end market online in China. The company also developed a connected store concept with Chanel and is a retailer with Browns and a brand owner itself through the New Guards Group, which controls Palm Angels and produces Off-White under license.
Altogether, that adds up to an unusually broad take on the luxury world and one that is informed by more than the usual dose of tech savvy. And Farfetch is trying to use its perch to become something of a Netflix of fashion.
“When it was viewed as technology equals having an e-commerce site, a lot of businesses thought, ‘Oh, we can do that,’ Phair said. “But when you add it all up and realize that the e-commerce site is only really the front and you’ve got the logistics, the technology, the customer service, the localization into 16 languages, then you realize this requires being a technology company.”
Few can now play that tech game at the level Farfetch is.
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