Can “Virtual Department Store” The Yes break through the difficulties of traditional department stores with AI technology

The global spread of the New Crown epidemic has accelerated the decline of fashion retail and department stores. J.Crew, Neiman Marcus and JCPenney have successively filed for bankruptcy. Almost all brands have faced huge sales pressure since the beginning of this year. However, a new type of startup company chose to go online at this special moment and tried to change its consumption habits with a brand-new shopping experience. It is The Yes.

The Yes was co-founded by Julie Bornstein and Amit Aggarwal. Prior to this, Bornstein was the chief operating officer of Stitch Fix, an American online personal styling service platform. During her 20-year career, she also helped many brands go digital, including Nordstrom, Urban Outfitter and Sephora. Her extensive experience and forward-looking vision also helped her successfully raise US$30 million in funding from investment companies such as Forerunner Ventures and True Ventures. And Aggarwal, who has worked for search engine giants such as Google and Bing, provided strong technical support for The Yes, and created a “department store” that belongs to the future through a newly designed AI algorithm.

Fashion Week Street shooter Taylor Tomasi Hill also joined The Yes as the head of fashion and creativity. Under her leadership, In addition to adopting a more youthful and collage visual style, The Yes also uses taxonomy instead of big data to split a piece of clothing into different parts, from length, print to color. To learn the needs of consumers, and then use computer technology to scan the entire series of brands to provide recommendations to users.

This APP will first understand the user’s style and preferences through a questionnaire. The algorithm uses AI and machine learning to identify your aesthetic preferences, from colors, styles to details. When seeing the product, users simply select “Yes” or “No” to help the system better learn their personal style and gradually provide “tailor-made” and more accurate single product recommendations. Therefore, according to the different tastes of users, everyone recommends the page is unique.

In Bornstein’s view, most of the traditional department store and e-commerce apps only narrow the website to the mobile phone screen, while The Yes is completely built for the mobile phone, catering to the daily use habits of users. In addition, there are 3 differences: First, The Yes does not own inventory, only as a middleman between the brand and the consumer (mainly to earn commissions), after the user places an order, the brand will directly deliver the goods; It is The Yes that uses the Lookbook and single product map provided by the brand, and does not take the second shot of the product, so that the brand also has autonomy in the presentation of the image; the last one has social attributes, and friends can see each other’s YES list, And can share favorite items with each other.

The app’s first launch includes nearly 150 cooperating brands (and continues to increase), from Gucci, Prada, Acne Studios, Theory, Everlane to Levis, etc., covering different categories and price categories from luxury goods to fast fashion. But this also means that the price difference may exceed 10 times, but two items with similar styles will appear on the recommendation page for users at the same time, which will undoubtedly cause disadvantage to high-end brands. Fast Company also pointed out that since The Yes does not directly control the quality of goods and logistics, it may also cause disputes in these two aspects in the future.

The Yes is currently only available in the United States, and most of the stores have not yet opened and online has become the main shopping channel. This outbreak has more or less created opportunities for them. However, virtual department stores and physical department stores have different shopping experiences. Whether consumers really need passive item recommendation and whether it can ultimately change everyone’s shopping habits will remain to be seen.

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