Q&A: Isabelle Ohnemus, Founder and CEO, EyeFitU
Retail Technology Innovation Hub: Tell us about yourself.
Isabelle Ohnemus: I’m Founder and CEO of fashion-sizing platform EyeFitU. EyeFitU provides personal sizing recommendations to users, across many international brands and online stores such as Net-a-Porter, Asos and River Island. The aim of the platform is to remove the stress of shopping (brought about by global inconsistencies in sizing), reduce returns rates and ultimately, bring fun back into the shopping experience. I am proud to say that EyeFitU is free and super accessible as it can be downloaded as an app on iOS and Android, as well as on desktop.
I adore fashion and technology and I come from a finance background, having spent over 10 years working at an international investment bank as a broker in stocks and derivatives. I developed my tech skills when programming as a university student. Based in Zurich with my family, I am thoroughly enjoying pursuing my passion. Whilst most of my time is spent at the office in Switzerland, I am fortunate enough to travel with work a number of times a year; and being fluent in six languages helps with that. Attending international events and conferences allows me to present in front of different audiences and this year I was thrilled to have been on the panel of speakers on the main stage at NOAH17 in Berlin and at She Started It in Zurich.
RTIH: What inspired you to set the company up?
IO: As I already mentioned, I absolutely love fashion and a few years ago I decided to turn my own home into a kind of fashion outlet for my friends. I had discovered a number of designers from Italy, France and Denmark who had no physical stores in Zurich, and so I began privately selling their items from my living room. It was at this point that I realised the extent of the issue of sizing within the fashion industry.
I had always personally struggled to find clothing that fit me correctly, being a range of sizes across different brands, but having noticed the difficulty that others faced made me want to do something about it. Having analysed and thoroughly followed the global retail sector, the e-commerce shift as well as the mobile surge in my work, founding EyeFitU was absolutely the right development.
RTIH: What has been the industry reaction thus far?
IO: So far, so good! The industry has acknowledged that our mobile-first approach and added value is very interesting, particularly to online fashion stores that often have a very broad target audience and clothing from multiple brands where, of course, the sizes can differ a lot. Our app/web platform is seen as an extension of their stores.
Despite the benefits of online shopping, consumers are more often than not put off by the stress of not knowing which size will fit them as brands’ sizing varies wildly. Online fashion retailers acknowledge that this affects their relationship with their customers and their retention rates. It is for this reason, online retailers are keen to see consumers return to their online store, confident in the knowledge that sizing recommendations are accurate and that they are getting a truly personalised shopping experience.
RTIH: What has been your biggest challenge/setback?
IO: Believe it or not, we are a groundbreaking platform and that in itself can be a challenge: everything we have done did not exist before, therefore obstacles are a natural part of the journey. From integration to testing, to automation to re-testing - we’re constantly learning and developing.
What’s more, we’re a startup and being in the early stages of any new business brings a plethora of challenges. Speed and time to market to test if the value proposition works is hugely important. So it is vital to balance this with retailers who sometimes, due to legacy systems, are not able to embrace new and advanced technologies very quickly. Luckily, and not surprisingly, for us many are keen to improve conversion and retention rates and are therefore eager to test technologies that can help with this.
RTIH: What are the biggest challenges facing multi-channel retailers right now?
IO: Multi-channel retailers are constantly challenged with being relevant and unique with the pressing need to invest in advanced technology. In an industry that is adopting tech as a means of retaining customer loyalty and driving sales, the creativity and extent that brands are going to is seemingly limitless. Take Topshop’s VR waterslide on Oxford Street this summer; the experience wasn’t directly linked to fashion as such. Rather, it was symbolic of the impending holiday season and certainly encouraged shoppers to visit the store as well as gaining attention from the media.
Then there is the challenge of being “mobile-ready”. Many brands that had already made the switch to a successful online platform must now also do so for mobile devices. The number of shoppers making purchases on their mobile phones is increasing steadily, and retailers must be prepared for this, otherwise they risk being left behind. For today’s tech savvy consumer, multi-channel retailers must adopt accessible, exciting and unique methods to ensure that shoppers are engaged, spending and returning again and again.
RTIH: What's the best question about your company or the market asked of you recently by a.) an investor and b.) a customer?
IO: The best questions from our investors were regarding the EyeFitU team. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact one, but before making the investment, our investors were very interested in us as a collaborative of FashTech entrepreneurs. After investing, their focus changed to time-to-market so we had plenty of discussions regarding concentration of resources and focus.
Again, it’s difficult to pick out just one question from our customers, because any questions or feedback from them is greatly appreciated as it helps us to constantly improve the user experience on our app.
It’s worth pointing out here that we are often asked the following from retailers: “can we integrate your technology, how long would it take and how much would it cost?”
RTIH: What can we expect to see from your company over the next 12 months?
IO: Given the market's needs, we are keen to focus on a B2B offering; we’d like to expand from being a purely consumer-focused platform to an integration sizing tool for retailers with an online offering. Having worked closely with the sizing of our affiliated brands and online stores, we fully understand the positive effect that EyeFitU can bring to a consumer’s shopping experience, and we want this to be possible even when ordering directly through a brand’s website. One of our key goals remains: to ensure consumers feel confident in buying the correct size when shopping online. With an EyeFitU integration, a brand will increase personalisation, trust, engagement and profitability.
Of course, in parallel to this, we will continue to develop our B2C offering (app and desktop platform) so that our users will still have access to their favourite brands and online stores, all in one place and in their size. What’s more, we will continue to attend and present at events around the world, spreading the word about EyeFitU; creating a greater buzz about our game-changing shopping platform that will benefit both retailers and consumers alike.