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How Thread keeps ahead of the personalisation trend

Men’s etailer Thread was founded in 2012, when personalisation in online fashion was just starting out. Co-founder and CEO Kieran O’Neill spoke at the Drapers Digital Festival about how the company stays ahead in an increasingly disruptive environment.

Admitting that it is “hard” for companies to be “everything at once”, O’Neill’s top piece of advice is to focus on what you want your business to achieve and really home in on that – which is what he and co-founders, chief technology officer Ben Phillips and creative director Ben Kucsan did.

When Thread launched, it sold both men’s and womenswear to the UK and US, before realising that this was “absolute madness”. This resulted in the decision to focus exclusively on menswear in the UK.

The company’s mission, O’Neill said, is to “help guys dress well” which it achieves through a combination of human stylists and technological algorithms – merging “the best of stylists and people, with the best of technology”.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also an important part of Thread’s strategy. Customers ­­­complete an online quiz to help determine their style, sizing and online shopping preferences. Stylists then recommend clothes for each unique user – based on their choices – and develop algorithms that create outfits for them.

Data is another useful tool. O’Neill admits that the company has “loads and loads of data, which (it) is happy to share with brands” to help them understand who its customers are and what they are buying.

It also helps to develop a more accurate personalisation experience – based on what products customers browse, click on, hover over, like and dislike, Thread can recommend the most appropriate items for each customer according to their buying habits.

All data is segmented on a one-to-one basis – not by categories such as age or geographical location – a decision the founders made “very early on” and which it recommends to refine the personalisation process.

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