We have all experienced the frustration of ordering a new item of clothing online in a size we know fits us in any other brand, then having to spend time and money returning the item because it was way too big.
EyeFitU is a brand new app that seeks to do away with sizing issues from differing brands and countries. It features a fully integrated size recommendation system that uses machine learning to recommend a users perfect fit for a host of top brands.
We spoke to EyeFitU’s chief executive and founder Isabelle Ohnemus to discover what drove her to leave her life as a broker behind and plunge into the world of retail with her new startup company.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before EyeFitU. What have been your career highlights?
I‘m Isabelle Ohnemus; Founder and CEO of EyeFitU. Our Headquarter is in Zurich,Switzerland and we a team in the US and in London. I come from a financial background, having spent over 10 years as broker for a global investment company. My career highlights include working at Merrill Lynch.
What got you into the retail sector in the first place? Why do you enjoy it, or, if applicable – why did you make that switch?
My interest in fashion grew into a passion and so I began to organise private sales at my home for my girl friends who wanted to access the world of fashion in an easy way. It wasn‘t long before I discovered the issue of the inconsistency in sizing and it was then that I decided that I wanted to tackle the problem myself. EyeFitU was born out of that vision.
Describe your role and responsibilities as CEO of EyeFitU?
As any CEO, and especially one of a startup, managing revenue, expenses, external financing i.e cash flow as well as having a vision and transmitting it to the team. Recruiting talent, building teams and constantly assessing and optimising the who, what, where is essential to have the most efficient and motivated team.
Develop a common culture and a purpose as well as a company brand inside and towards the outside as well as making constant industry connections. Having external shareholders also requires a constant flow of information and communication exchange as they are also a big asset in terms of advocacy. Building a solid executive board and advisory board.
How has your previous experience aided your current job? What have you brought with you?
The most important lesson is to be humble and open-minded. With many realities and changes happening in the retail sector, you always have to be ready to learn, to steer your direction and be flexible. Another thing is the enthusiasm of challenging myself, aiming always for better results.
You speak six languages! That‘s amazing. In what ways has that helped you in your career? Do you recommend retail professionals learn another language? Why?
Thank you – since EyeFitU is available to download globally, I am often travelling to attend events and conferences in many different countries as well as meeting people from different cultures so it certainly helps on that front! As I grew up in three continents and 8 countries, learning languages is for me an inherent part of my life.
Can you explain the concept of EyeFitU? How is it different to other retailers and ecommerce marketplace platforms?
EyeFitU is a personal fashion sizing app and platform. I couldn’t have imagined developing a fashion app without a fully integrated size recommendation. Our machine learning technology learns from every user who inputs their measurements into the system, creating a highly personalised experience. With our affiliated brands and online stores, the user is recommended items of clothing that will most likely be the correct fit.
We‘ve developed a software tool for clothes and footwear shopping that uses Machine Learning and the specifics of each brand and user to recommend the best possible fit for male and female.
Users have to make their size profile once and we do the rest in terms of sizing. In other words we are decoding for each specific user what a size, fit and style in a garment from Brand A means in Brand B so the focus is on inspiration, shopping.
We have a vast selection of brands (and we constantly adjust our software to their new specifics) and stores available on our platform and of course all their sales and offers too; which makes it pretty cool for our users to see instantly what is available in their size.
Our users also love to make size profiles for their loved ones on our app (multiple-profiles) so they can shop for them in the correct size (addressing the gifting market). Having your size profile in your phone is extremely practical when you do not wish or cannot try the clothes while in-store as well.
Our users just check our sizing recommendation in the store and select what to take in the fitting room or simply purchase it.
How has EyeFitU adapted to the challenges that faces retail (as a whole) at the moment? Challenges like Brexit, the rise of online retail to the detriment of the high street, increasing demand for next-day or same-day delivery, etc.
We are a startup with the attitude of startup which means we have a strong vision and can and do adapt to changes as they occur. Our core strategy has not been affected by the challenges you mention.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Sometimes I wish technology would develop much faster!
What is the most rewarding?
Knowing that EyeFitU has the potential to change the face of shopping; we can not only help reduce the number of returns which is great for both the retailer and customer but also be a part of the personalised service so that the customer can have the best shopping experience possible and brand experience. Ultimately, we can make shopping enjoyable, hassle-free and efficient.
Can you talk about any upcoming projects at EyeFitU that you‘re working on at the moment?
I have to repeat to myself to work on one project at a time in order to focus all of my energy on it. Providing a consistently better shopping experience is my ongoing project right now and I always try to learn and discover new ways of meeting this target. I can‘t deny though, we have a lot of ideas in mind so stay tuned!
What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail? What are the essentials?
You must be passionate about fashion and tech.. Through digital, the face of shopping is changing and so you must be interested and educated in the technological advances in this field. Stay ahead!
What would you say is the biggest risk for the retail sector, given the current climate (especially post-Brexit)?
It is difficult for me at this point to give a good estimate of the Post-Brexit consequences for the UK fashion industry. On the other hand, I do not believe that the growth in e-commerce will kill the brick-and-mortar store whatsoever.
However what I do believe in is that brands which are not embracing, investing and reinventing their physical retail stores experience and purpose will suffer even more than now in the future.
The omnichannel experience we have all been talking about now for quite some time is ready to take off. Physical stores that are reorganised, should it be as showrooms, digital facilitators (payments etc..), experiential, to merge their customers with the online world will be the winners. The customer is multi-faceted as she/he is connecting with a brand through a multitude of channels and the brand must acknowledge and address it.
Please feel free to add anything else you think is worth a mention
Download our free app, available on iOS and Android, and enjoy shopping on EyeFitU!