FIVE MINUTES WITH BEN MERCER
At True Fit, data and experience come first. Ben Mercer, the company’s former VP for the UK, Ireland and the Nordics, talks about brand positioning, working with retail partners and making a difference to the world of fashion e-commerce
What is True Fit’s brand positioning?
True Fit was founded in 2010 and we were founded to solve two challenges. From a customer perspective, we wanted to enable customers to find clothes that they’d love and that they’d keep. From a retailer’s point of view, the biggest challenge those guys have is 40% of products that are bought online are returned. That’s a huge amount of prouducts that are returned. There’s a lot of costs that go into that. And the number one issue is around fit; customers will buy products and they just will return them.
What kinds of data does True Fit collect?
We really want to enable retailers to get access to our rich data platform that we have to enrich customer experiences, drive repeat purchase, increase customer lifestyle. But more importantly reduce that massive returns burden that retailers have.
We take three data sources to try and solve that challenge. The first one is what customers have bought and what they’ve returned across different sites. What we also take is product garment data, things like size guides, line charts. From that what we can then do is see what products customers bought, keep and return. It’s not just about fit, it’s all about personalising that experience for customers and helping them discover new things they might not have tried before.
How does True Fit work with its partnering businesses?
With the amount of users we have across the world we have millions of users who use the True Fit widget and interact with it on a regular basis. We can kind of point to those retailers and then for them it’s around what are the challenges in the business? Is it a conversion rate challenge? Is it a returns rate challenge? Then we really focus on what we can do to help solve those challenges and, more importantly for a customer, be able to provide richer experiences to allow them to find what they love and keep it.
It’s really about personalising the experience. We start to understand and trust in that retailer’s experience – that they know what customers like. That’s where we’re going with there personalisation vision. Either it works within the widget itself of we can provide data to retailers to be able to personalise the experience in any way they want to. We think it’s a bit of a game changer, because it’s going to enable retailers not just to personalise on their product description page, but across their entire estate.
Why is personalisation important for retailers in the fashion industry?
Personalisation is definitely the topic that’s been on point for the last couple of years and I think there’s always been a lot of challenges for retailers around how they personalise and the systems they have in the back-end. Some retailers we speak to have legacy back-end systems where data is very difficult to get into the customer experience. Because we have this shared data collective, it just means that we can truly understand the customer and we have data which retailers won’t necessarily be able to capture themselves. Then we personalise to the consumer so they can choose better and buy stuff they can keep.
How will True Fit evolve in the future?
Our core focus has always been on getting retailers signed up because they’ll always have different customers that won’t necessarily know about True Fit because they don’t shop on one of our customer’s websites. There’s always the shared common ground with retailers that returns are an issue. Being able to understand why people are returning and trying to enable customers to find stuff that they’ll keep is key. The challenge in universal.
We recently got $55m in funding which is pretty exciting. The next challenge is to expand beyond where we are at the moment. There are big plans to grow into the Asia-Pacific region to target places like China, Australia, Singapore and other leading global markets. And to just continue to make our data available for retailers to create rich experiences, whether it’s online or mobile or even to do things like in-store experiences; to be able to use our data to personalise through that.