Last year, Expert Market whittled down hundreds of London-based businesses and awarded 8 companies with our Coolest Companies badges. From disruptive technology to world-class culture, each of our chosen companies are leading the way in their area of expertise. Online fashion retailer, Lyst, stole the crown in our ‘Coolest Consumer Concept’ category - here’s why…
What is Lyst?
Founded in 2010, Lyst has spent the last seven years shaking up the online fashion industry. Inspiration struck CEO Chris Morton when he realised that online shopping was becoming ‘increasingly fragmented’ and ‘impersonal’. Instead, he wanted to create a company that would cater for all high-end fashion needs. He wanted Lyst to offer ‘a bespoke shopping experience’. Today, Lyst curates clothes and accessories from over 11,000 leading brands. It allows users to browse, shop and pay for their items within their own platform. Their business model is disruptive, clever and, most importantly, highly tailored to the customer.
Chris admits there have been some tough choices to make along the way. Two years after launching, Chris and his team made the difficult decision to overhaul their business. They moved away from an affiliate model, where customers were sent back to the brand’s website to purchase, and instead introduced their own ‘universal’ checkout. Customers can now enjoy a more seamless purchasing experience. Meanwhile, Lyst continues to enjoy ever-growing sales and investment opportunities. It has rapidly become the one-stop shop for online fashion, and shows no signs of slowing down!
Consumer Experience at its Core
At Lyst, the consumer comes first. This is clear across its site, social media and beyond. Every aspect of the shopping experience at Lyst is personalised. Users can select their favourite brands and Lyst will tailor their homepage accordingly. Shoppers can receive alerts direct to their phone to ensure they are always up-to-date. Users can also build ‘wish-lysts’ of items, and browse related recommendations. In short, Lyst is a perfect virtual personal shopper. If the fashion industry has a reputation for exclusivity, Lyst aims to be that bit more ‘approachable, a bit friendlier’. Chris explains, as an example, that every Monday Lyst will send one customer something from their wish-list, free of charge, simply to say thank you for using the site.
Another crucial pillar for the brand is data. At Lyst, data underpins every aspect of the user experience. Data scientists constantly monitor trends, clicks and purchases. Meanwhile complex algorithms provide tailored product recommendations based on previous clicks and ‘likes’. For the fashion industry, this level of technology is unprecedented. Lyst have combined fashion and technology in a way that no other retailer has managed. Lyst is an undeniably cool concept that has been executed perfectly.
In the world of fashion, Lyst is viewed as the disrupter, the challenger and the innovator. When we caught up with Matt Buckland, Lyst’s Head of Talent, he explained that this mentality was crucial to their success. Even their marketing is disruptive. For their inaugural advertising campaign in 2015, the brand overlaid witty headlines on traditional glossy fashion images. The result? Quirky, eye-catching and engaging ads.
What’s more, Lyst prides itself on giving all employees, whatever their job title, the ability to affect change. At Lyst, no idea is a bad idea. Employees are constantly encouraged to challenge the status quo and so Lyst is able to stay ahead of its competitors. Chris Morton shares the same attitude. When market forces are driving to ‘kill our business’, he explains, ‘we want to the be ones that kill our business’. Chris and his team understand that the key to business survival is adaptability. A business that is quick to react to change will stay afloat while others flounder.
Lyst has built a platform that is shaped by its customers. The team have flourished because they truly understand their consumer, and long may it continue!