Taxonomy is the science of naming, describing, and classifying items into categories. Taxonomy is essential in fashion because of the large number of products and points us in the right direction to find clothing we are looking for. However, because of the subjective and interpretative nature of fashion, taxonomy has been quite a challenge.
“In fashion, there are so many ways of describing the same thing, which is quite nuanced and is quite internal to the industry, but can be a problem for our customers” says Natalie Verma, Farfetch head of inspiration.
Customers can have an underwhelming search experience as they type random keywords in the search bar and hope to find what they are looking for. This gap will not only affect the customer’s experience, but also have a business impact of reduced cart sizes and conversion rates. Customers will stick to the few websites and products where they know the taxonomy. In essence, most retailers have taken away the customers’ control to find exactly what they like.
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Nordstrom has 22 different neck styles, 35 different kinds of materials, 18 types of patterns and 20 styles of tops. That is 95 unique words. A shopper needs to know 95 styles and patterns in order to be able to shop at Nordstrom like a pro.
Additionally, retailers subject their customers to non-standard names and classifications of products. Therefore, for shoppers, it is not enough to know the 95 styles and patterns at Nordstrom, they need to learn a million others to be able to shop effectively on different e-commerce fashion websites.
Consequently, customers are frustrated regarding the inconsistency of taxonomy across e-commerce fashion websites. Such discrepancies can be confusing and make shoppers feel excluded - as if the shopping experience were designed only for fashion-savvy folks who know the taxonomy.
Graphic tees appear under the category of “patterns” at Nordstrom, whereas, at Macy’s they are classified as “top style.”
Henley is classified as top style at Macy’s whereas at Nordstrom it is sometimes classified as a blouse and sometimes as a tunic.
Different websites have different names for the jacket pictured: puffer jacket on Uniqlo, Asos, and Gap, padded jacket on Ted Baker, quilted jacket on Madewell and ONeill
How does the Style Filter address this problem?
This challenge with taxonomy is not new to the industry. It’s almost a mission impossible to get the same taxonomy from different retailers, not to mention that fashion trends are constantly changing, generating new taxonomy.
The inherent challenge here is the need to bridge this language gap and create inclusive taxonomy that is easy to understand for everyone.
YesPlz has addressed this challenge by supplementing text-based searches with visual searches. We have developed the Style Filter that allows shoppers to visually communicate exactly what they are looking for without any knowledge of fashion taxonomy. We tested our Style Filter with online shoppers and learned that people like to communicate their desired styles through visual elements rather than using relevant keywords to describe the style.
“I’m a visual person” was a sentiment expressed by a number of participants.
Design Studio/ Visual Element
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"The Style Filter empowers me to find what I am looking for without having to know the right terminology," said one participant.
Online shoppers like the fact that they don’t have to know key words or check several boxes to select the styles they like. Shoppers can simply envision their outfits and create them using the Style Filter.
“Best part about Style Filter, I don’t need to know the name of styles” - Participant
Illustrations of Styles
Neck Styles, Heel Styles
The Style Filter provides illustrations of various styles making it easier for the customer to understand the taxonomy. Some participants saw this as an opportunity to educate themselves on fashion taxonomy. The illustrations and its labels serve as visual aids for the customer to learn the names of styles.
Simple English Words
The Style Filter uses simple words to describe the styles of clothes so there is no need for the customer to know the “right” terms. The labels strike a balance between simplicity and familiarity with common fashion taxonomy.
For example, Nordstrom has 23 different styles of jackets having unique names. It is difficult to understand what the jacket is from names like trucker, peacoat, and parka. However, you can create any of these jackets on the Style Filter by just knowing a few simple English words like short, long, round, hoodie, and loose.
We think the Style Filter is one of the solutions to democratize world fashion taxonomy and create an inclusive shopping experience for all kinds of shoppers.
Retail tech should make the shopping experience easy, not complicated. Interested in learning more about how AI/ML can apply to your e-commerce website? Request a free demo or 30-minute consultation at email@example.com
We partnered with Kolon Mall, a leading retailer in Korea that is currently using YesPlz AI.
After implementing the filter, Kolon Mall saw a 15% sales spark and increased sales on previously lesser-sold products.
Lately is an online retailer with thousands of complex products. We partnered with Lately to improve the customer search experience. YesPlz’s AI algorithm was able to recognize and tag images at a lightning speed. After implementing the Style Filter, the customer search experience has been improved.