How Ssense Uses Data

WWD Digital Daily - - News - BY

The re­tailer, which re­ceives 32 mil­lion page views each month, is fo­cused on op­ti­miz­ing the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence with data.

Ac­cord­ing to Kr­ishna Nikhil, chief mer­chan­dis­ing of­fi­cer at Ssense, a lux­ury re­tailer based in Mon­treal, data is its se­cret weapon.

Nikhil and Jen­nifer Sch­midt, se­nior part­ner at McKin­sey and Co., de­tailed how Ssense uses data and why other re­tail­ers and fash­ion brands should fol­low suit — Sch­midt said only 4 per­cent of ap­parel com­pa­nies ap­ply data to their op­er­a­tions.

Sch­midt be­gan the ses­sion ex­plain­ing the im­por­tance of us­ing data, which has the op­por­tu­nity to un­lock $1 tril­lion to $2 tril­lion in value for global re­tail­ers and peo­ple who are lead­ing in data adop­tion are 74 per­cent likely to out­per­form busi­nesses that aren't us­ing data.

But Sch­midt added that us­ing data in an ef­fec­tive way means build­ing a data cul­ture. That starts with hav­ing an ex­ec­u­tive team that gets be­hind data, but also in­cludes the fol­low­ing steps: stay true to a busi­ness prob­lem; re­ward out­put over process; hire peo­ple from out­side of the com­pany; look at small data to un­lock dif­fer­ent op­por­tu­ni­ties, and spend to scale its ap­pli­ca­tions.

For Ssense, it was im­por­tant to use data to im­prove and op­ti­mize ex­ist­ing pro­cesses as op­posed to uti­liz­ing it for fore­cast­ing. Eighty per­cent of its shop­pers, which are split 50 per­cent male and 50 per­cent fe­male, are un­der the age of

34. Nikhil said Ssense, which re­ceives 32 mil­lion page views a month, has res­onated with this cus­tomer by hav­ing a point of view, which comes across with its con­tent — they pro­duce five edi­to­ri­als a week. For one of its most suc­cess­ful sto­ries, Ssense used data and tracked what peo­ple were search­ing for on­line and on its e-com­merce site. They used that to cre­ate a video show­cas­ing trending sneak­ers in an un­con­ven­tional way.

Ssense also uses data to en­able speed, whether that's how long it takes for the site to load or how soon cus­tomers re­ceive their pur­chases. They've brought data into the off-line shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence with its new, 10,000-square-foot flag­ship store, where cus­tomers are able to se­lect the items they want on­line, set up an ap­point­ment and try them on in store with a stylist. Be­cause this ser­vice was so pop­u­lar at its first store, Ssense ded­i­cated two of the five floors to fit­ting rooms and they have be­tween 60 and 75 ap­point­ments each day. Pur­chases from these ap­point­ments rep­re­sent 80 per­cent of the store's sales.

Go­ing for­ward Ssense will of­fer its data to brands sell­ing on the site in­clud­ing Ste­fano Pi­lati, who will launch his new line, Ran­dom Iden­ti­ties, with the re­tailer. They are also work­ing with El­e­ment AI, an ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence com­pany that will work with Ssense's large database of im­agery to de­velop an al­go­rithm for fu­ture uses. Ssense ac­quired Polyvore ear­lier this year but hasn't gone into much de­tail about what that pur­chase means al­though it's easy to as­sume that the de­ci­sion was data-driven.

Sch­midt ended the ses­sion by out­lin­ing what lead­ers who em­brace data do dif­fer­ently from lead­ers who don't. They are twice as likely to em­bed an­a­lyt­ics into top 10 de­ci­sion-mak­ing, four more times as likely to ap­ply an­a­lyt­ics across four or more func­tions, six times more likely to use mul­ti­ple data sets per case and in­cor­po­rate in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal data, and six times more likely to of­fer em­ploy­ees ac­cess to data.

Jen­nifer Spauld­ing Sch­midt and Kr­ishna Nikhil

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