Competing With Data & Analytics
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In the world of fashion, either you’re in or you’re out. And if you’re out, you can turn to StyleSeek to help unearth your inner sartorialist.
StyleSeek is a website that helps visitors and members discover their “StyleDNA” through a style game in which users choose their favorite lifestyle images from a series of pictures — from swanky front doors to magazine covers to sporty or elegant cars. The outcome of these selections is a user’s StyleDNA, which the site then uses to recommend apparel options culled from more than 200 retail partners, including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Anthropologie and J. Crew.
But Chicago-based StyleSeek is more than an online recommendation engine; it is a business that extracts a percentage of sales when users click out to a retailer’s site and buy a product within a 90-day window. StyleSeek visitors who click through to a retail partner’s site become buyers at the partner sites at a rate that is well above the industry average click-through conversion rate.1
Although it’s a startup, StyleSeek has already begun diversifying its business model. Some of the company’s retail partners want to lease a version of its analytics platform to improve their understanding of their own customers’ preferences and behavior. According to StyleSeek founder Tyler Spalding:
We can take our technology and put it on partner sites [to help them get] a deeper understanding of what’s happening with customers — what’s working and why. A lot of our big retail partners have already said, “Sign us up for this immediately; we’ll do whatever we need to do to get this working.”
StyleSeek is part of a cadre of companies that are feeding a growing demand for better data and, in some cases, changing their own business models as a result.
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1. R.B. Ferguson, interview with Tyler Spalding (StyleSeek), “How Analytics Is Giving Fashion a Makeover,” September 24, 2013, https://sloanreview.mit.edu.
2. The $1.2 trillion purchasing power estimate comes from the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. See “Minority Buying Power Grows in 2013, According to Selig Center Report,” September 4, 2013, www.terry.uga.edu.
3. H. Mintzberg and J.A. Waters, “Of Strategies, Deliberate and Emergent,” Strategic Management Journal 6, no. 3 (July-September 1985): 257-272.