E-Comm Tech Veteran CEO Julie Bornstein On Her Latest Venture, TheYes
THEYES, a new fashion retail platform is betting fashion consumers won’t say no to a fresh way of online shopping. Led by e-comm tech veteran Julie Bornstein the recently launched app just debuted a website to bring the platform full circle.
Breaking a Retail Mold
The app, which launched in 2020 when Covid-19 was in full swing, required a deep tech build-out using four tech algorithms and e-commerce infrastructure. “Each user has their neuro-network; user yes and no interface with each other and interact with over 240 brands on the platform,” she explained, noting they continue to add brands daily.
According to Bornstein, when the pandemic shut down traditional retail, many brands began to rethink distribution channels. THEYES takes 25 percent commission from the sale which sits at the sweet spot in between affiliate commissions and the approximately 50 percent commission on wholesale sales. (For this, THE YES absorbs transaction fees, chargebacks, fraud liability and any other transaction related costs. additionally they cover Customer Service and provide robust data insights to each brand about their own performance and their customer set.) Many brands view the platform as a marketing expense. Direct-to-consumer brands benefit from Bornstein’s online track record and facilitate that customer-brand relationship. “We allow customers to follow a brand’s Instagram from our page. We liken ourselves to modern matchmakers and not interfere with the brand connection.”
Thus far, the growth has been organic with a $25 site credit for referrals, resulting in 100,000 shares. Despite this, the decision to launch a website was to attract even more users. “Apps are a closed system, so it’s harder to reach an Android user, and some people prefer using websites,” Bornstein noted. Growth has been steady increasing reopening measures post Covid-19 lockdown have influenced sales: specifically from April-May up 50 percent and May-June up 66 percent. 50 percent of new sales are coming from the website.
Retail Tech Gets Stylish
The platform stands out also thanks to clever creative direction headed by style influencer, former editor, and retail veteran Taylor Tomasi-Hill, who also helps source new brands to carry on the site. But the functionality and usability component has also swayed them to join as a forward-thinking platform that offers a ready-made tech stack and can share the technology they may not have the means to invest in on their own is attractive.
Bornstein’s plan includes working on a brand integration that pulls existing product imagery and descriptions from each brand’s website to eventually carry the whole online platform of every designer or company brought on board. “We provide an entire ecosystem to modernize your store; essentially, brands get their own store on the platform.”
The Extra Step
Shortly after leaving Stitch Fix in 2017, after helping guide the site to go public and seek venture capital, the seeds for THEYES were planted. “I knew that Amazon
THEYES is designed to take the call to action of “You Might Also Like” a step further by creating an AI-generated personal shopper. Bornstein—who has been at the forefront of tech since the late 90s working everywhere from Nordstrom
“I love fashion as many do, but I knew what was missing was someone to do the shopping for them. AI could help fix this,” she said via a telephone interview. Who hasn’t done the digital experience of combing through racks and racks of clothes by scrolling endlessly through merchandise?
THEYES’s method aims to eliminate that by doing it for you. The process is much different from typical search filters that narrow by style, color, size, and price for the consumer. THEYES starts by asking which brands you shop for, what color palette you veer towards, what silhouettes appeal. Next, with a visual quiz showing very nuanced looks, it queries users if they would wear something. A sleeveless prairie shirt with a ruffled yoke? High-waisted acid wash jeans? Pink jeweled kitten heels?
The more the user says yes to items, the better targeted the suggestions. Bornstein likens it to making a music playlist on Spotify or TikTok on social media, “We learn from the references and show products, accordingly,” she said.
But what if you want to see everything on the site? You can still search traditionally, but items are prioritized according to the preferences. THEYES also hopes to encourage users to interact as lists can be shared with friends giving the platform a social component as well.