Second Amazon exec jumps to Stitch Fix

Retail dive

Dive Brief:

  • Sharon Chiarella, formerly vice president of community shopping at Amazon, will soon be the second person from the e-commerce giant to join Stitch Fix. The company said Tuesday that starting March 29 she will be its chief product officer.

  • Chiarella, who will report to Stitch Fix President Elizabeth Spaulding, will lead the product, design and technical teams, according to a company press release.

  • She was at Amazon for 13 years, where she oversaw customer reviews, deals, gifting, wish list "and other customer experience-driven innovations," per the release.

Chiarella's appointment shows that Amazon has become a handy recruiting ground for Stitch Fix. The company's Chief Financial Officer, Dan Jedda, arrived from the e-commerce giant in December. Unlike Amazon, which has made its reputation as "the everything store," Stitch Fix is a specialty retailer. But the company has had to grapple with the limits and challenges of e-commerce, especially since, also unlike Amazon, it has decided never to open stores.

At a recent meeting with BMO Capital Markets analysts, Stitch Fix executives acknowledged that e-commerce "remains a largely inefficient search-based task, with an opportunity to shift online shopping to a simplified browse-and-select scroll of few-but-hyper-curated items," according to a report of the meeting from BMO Managing Director Simeon Siegel. Logistics and fulfillment issues were also top of mind, he also said, noting that "Fulfillment by Amazon was mentioned a few times" and that Stitch Fix has previously said that it's using more drop-ship and consignment options.

Enter an executive or two from Amazon itself. In a statement, Chiarella noted that "my experience scaling accessible and radically convenient consumer shopping experiences to Stitch Fix and help drive the next chapter of growth."

That increasingly involves movement toward a more conventional e-commerce model. Stitch Fix's original innovation was its "fix" approach, where customers receive a one-time, occasional or regular delivery of boxes curated by algorithms and human stylists. The company has steadily expanded beyond that to include "direct buy," where customers browse a selection of clothing online. Data from style quizzes, past purchases and customer interactions tells Stitch Fix what those direct buyers will see — a tack used by other apparel retailers and department stores as well.​

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