Despite the online apparel shopping experience gaining favor among shoppers, there are still many gaps that e-commerce is still struggling to fill, particularly when it comes to catering to a consumer’s needs from head to toe.
Prismatik is designed to recreate a specialty store environment for small-to-midsized retailers and brands, giving them an opportunity to collaborate and curate a “shop the look” customer experience. At the same time, the platform integrates with a seller’s inventory management solution, in an effort to enable retailers to collect data on what items they will need to buy in the future.
The platform’s premise is to group complementary products together where they can be viewed all at once, incentivizing shoppers to buy them together. With this presentation, consumers can get a peek into potential full outfits as opposed to individual items, and purchase them together.
Once a shopper adds a product to their cart on an apparel site, the platform will showcase a “Prism” view with seven items that fit with the overall aesthetic of a larger outfit. But the company is presently working on expanding the feature so that apparel and accessories can be displayed from other brand websites, and not just from the retailer the shopper is visiting at the moment. As other Prismatik brands elect to offer merchandise of their own within the feature, e-commerce upstarts could collaborate with each other to drive sales.
Prismatik CEO and founder Bob Hayes said that women’s golf apparel brand Golftini had 91 of its products on the platform, or approximately 30 percent of its active inventory. Of the seven products typically offered in the Prism, Hayes said the customer interacts with five of them consistently, and on average five items will be added to the cart with the platform, as opposed to the two that are typically purchased without it. In the example Hayes gave, the average order value turned out to be $447, significantly above the $180 seen when shoppers don’t use the Prism.
Hayes noted that during his tenure at Internet media companies such as IAC and AOL, he saw that many SMBs only understood e-commerce based on an outdated playbook that focused too much on spending for SEO, programmatic advertising and later on, social media. These measures often failed because of overbudgeting or a lack of sophistication in leveraging the channels, both considerations larger competitors often had a better grasp on.
Understanding these challenges, Hayes started Prismatik in an effort to give SMB retailers and brands alike an opportunity to work together by putting merchandising at the center of the customer experience.
“We went out and said, ‘Look, I think there’s a way for small-to-medium retailers and brands to work together to enhance their sites,’” Hayes told Sourcing Journal. “If you sell shoes and I sell socks, and we are in a comparable socioeconomic demo, there should be a way that we could put our products together so that we can face that customer together. We’re in a battle for time and attention. Can we find a way to win that battle?”
Hayes said the goal is to take 200 to 300 brands with symbiotic product offerings and get them working together on the platform. Mark Scott, chief merchandising officer at Prismatik, said the cross-brand feature is likely “a year or two away,” with partnering companies paying each other on a commission-based model whenever a product sells.
While the front-end Prism is designed to encourage bigger basket sizes, Prismatik’s back end is the true driver of intelligence with its predictive analytics capabilities and “drag and drop” functionality, which enables the user to simply put a main product in the center of the Prism and complement it with six supporting products from its inventory. The dashboard also includes three “reserve” products that automatically shifts within the Prism view whenever a top-seven product is out of stock.
This gives the brand full control over what “looks” it wants to curate, and ultimately is geared to prevent customers from being shown a product that is out of stock.
“We found that 68 percent of the people that complain about e-commerce complain about out-of-stocks,” said Scott.
The platform has options to access 30-day, 60-day and 90-day sales run rates to view inventory windows and gain insight into trends. After 60 days, when there’s enough purchased to create a shopper history, predictive analytics take over so the brand can start leveraging inventory forecasting to determine what items they should hold going forward and what items they should eliminate.
“I want to get 60 days of history, look at it and make an informed suggestion to the user, because I don’t want to guess what that’s going to be,” Hayes said. “These smaller companies are not as sophisticated managing their inventory. And to a lot of them, cash flow is crucial. They might not even have the cash to buy other inventory right because they’re running wide.”
Down the road, after collecting enough customer data, the team expects to add product recommendations within the Prism based a shopper’s past history and even price point, Scott said.
The Prismatik platform also integrates into Shopify, giving it greater access to a potential pool of more than 1 million merchants operating sites on the e-commerce giant’s ecosystem. Hayes also noted that Shopify’s developer-friendly mantra was the second major draw, in that the company could flexibly build what it wanted on the platform without any intervention.
Prismatik is mainly targeting apparel brands today, but has plans to bring its platform to the home décor and furniture categories and even museum shops, Scott said.
“This can almost apply to anything where you want to build multiple purchases, and increase the AOV with complimentary products, this will work,” Scott said. “Apparel was the first because we have a background in apparel, but now …we’re talking about home décor…[and] putting the whole entire room together for furniture like a Restoration Hardware. It almost could work for anything, because it’s curated by the person who runs the site, so they’re putting it together the way they would want to sell the product.”