- Raveen Kuhadas
Mys Tyler - Finding Inspiration That Fits
Updated: Jan 1
Mys Tyler is a platform connecting brands with shoppers. It solves for the problem of high returns of clothes ordered online due to poor fit. It does this by matching women with influencers with similar body types modelling the clothes which these women can then purchase.
Their unique approach is based on the insight that good fit goes beyond the right size (what most tech solutions are solving for), and also needs to take into account a person’s height, shape and colouring. By providing women with a visual representation of how clothes look on someone similar, it provides the peace of mind that the clothes will look good on them rather than just fit. On the brand partner side, it acts as a performance-based marketing channel connecting them to satisfied customers.
Founder, Sarah Neill, has highly relevant experience. Sarah has a marketing background, previously founded a couple of tech companies, and launched a number of consumer mobile apps.
Mys Tyler has 30,000 app installs and over 500 brand partners and aims to have 500 influencers by December. It has raised $455,000 of funding to date and will be launching the full app in January. Traction could be rapid as they can leverage the influencers’ networks to grow their customer base.
Online fashion sales are a fast-growing category even before the global COVID-induced lock-down restrictions. Digital Commerce 360 estimated it accounted for 38.6% of total US approved sales in 2019 and 100% of retail clothing sales growth.
However, the experience of buying such a personal category like apparel online can be a challenging process. A Body Block AI survey showed that 91% of women found that the clothes they ordered online did not fit as expected. A Narvar survey in 2019 found poor sizing, fit, or colour as the biggest reason for customer returns.
This poor experience has real consequences for the brands or retailers in the form of returns. David Sobie, the co-founder of e-commerce returns business Happy Returns, estimated that shoppers returned 15-40% of online purchases compared to only 5-10% of in-store purchases. For clothing and shoes, return rates were 30-40%. The high level of returns is partly due to customers ordering several sizes and colours to try at home while attempting to nail down the size and fit they want.
Thus, the retailer faces additional costs such as logistics costs evaluating and repacking returns and pricing mark-downs. Less than half of returns are sold at full-price, according to Gartner Research. Tobin Moore, the co-founder of e-commerce returns business Optoro, estimates that as e-commerce continues to grow, returns could be a $1trillion per year problem.
Improving the customer experience and therefore returns is where Mys Tyler comes in. Mys Tyler is an app that allows women to shop for clothes that fit by matching them with influencers (Mys Tyler calls them contributors) who look similar (height, size, shape and colouring). Mys Tyler is thus a platform connecting the brands with a community of shoppers. Mys Tyler was founded in early 2020 by Sarah Neill (CEO) out of the Antler accelerator program in Sydney.
Sarah has a marketing background as well as previous startup experience. Her first startup was an international data roaming business called DOODAD in 2012. The incumbents in this space were competing fiercely on price per MB. However, consumers didn’t understand what a MB was! Sarah’s idea was to offer an innovative pricing model where international travellers could cap their daily data roaming charges while travelling allowing them to control their spend. Sarah had $1m in funding. It only took her 4 months to launch the beta and 5 months to launch the product globally. DOODAD had rapid traction with revenue growing 10% month on month for 6 months. A highly impressive achievement considering the level of competition in the space and the fact that DOODAD wasn’t the lowest priced option.
Along with rapid scaling experience, this demonstrated Sarah's intuitive ability to understand people and what her customers really wanted. The key to DOODAD was her understanding that international travellers were not price-sensitive with regard to data roaming. What they really wanted was the peace of mind that they were not going to be hit with an unexpectedly huge bill after their trip. She made this the centrepiece of her product by making it a prepaid offering with the ability to set daily maximum charges and visibility on the customer’s running balances. She would display this intuition again with Mys Tyler.
There are other companies attempting to solve for poor fit and sizing using technology such as body scanning, virtual fitting rooms, etc. Mys Tyler's unique approach again demonstrates Sarah's ability to look through to her customers' underlying needs rather than simply solving a problem.
Rather than discovering their exact size, what her customers really want is the peace of mind that the clothes they are looking at online will look good on them. Additionally, what her brand partners really want is an efficient marketing channel connecting them to satisfied customers rather than more technology or logistics solutions to manage.
Mys Tyler's approach to using influencers\contributors of similar body types is based on the belief that the person who knows best how to dress for your body is the person who has your body. Getting contributors of similar body types to her customers would provide a powerful visual representation of how good the clothes will look on them and help them make the right decisions. This is a much more human solution where women are matched to real people rather than simply using technology to match them with a product with the right measurements. There are 20m influencers on Instagram which is a large and diverse pool for Mys Tyler to recruit its initial contributors from.
However, a further benefit of this approach is the addition of a valuable marketing channel. An important feature of Mys Tyler's revenue model is affiliate commissions paid by the fashion brands when customers click on the contributor's posts. The affiliate commission model allows the brand to attribute the sales lead to Mys Tyler. Mys Tyler's leads are also more likely to be of higher quality. This is because customers are more confident in their decisions, having seen how the clothes look on people similar to them. In other words, Mys Tyler's contributors have done most of the marketing, merchandising, and curation work for these brands.
Mys Tyler's platform looks to be very scalable. To encourage these contributors to grow their following (and thus Mys Tyler's community of shoppers), Mys Tyler shares most of the brands' commissions with these contributors. Additionally, Mys Tyler does not take on inventory or fulfilment, making it asset light, and a very scalable platform.
In a clever hack to get an initial mass of contributors and customers onboard, Mys Tyler has created a body quiz game where Mys Tyler had scrapped the internet for body type data on hundreds of celebrities, and women can discover their celebrity body double by providing their body type. This game resonated with their customers, and they have had 30,000 app installs. Their current focus is recruiting contributors from this initial level of interest to post outfits they like creating the user generated content for the platform. They hope to have 500 contributors by December. On the other side of the platform, Mys Tyler already has 500 brand affiliate partners, which is a good indication of brand interest at this early stage.
Building a 2-sided marketplace or platform can be a challenging task. However, the rewards can be significant. A 2016 Deloitte study found this type of business model to be 8x more valuable than the traditional production-based business model and 2x as valuable as software-based business models.
These platform type business models grow rapidly in value with scale. I think Mys Tyler has the potential to scale quickly due to
A clear understanding of their customers' and brand partners' needs, which will help drive adoption.
A scalable, digital business model where they do not handle inventory or logistics
Contributors who are incentivised to grow the community for Mys Tyler and a revenue model which is aligned to this objective (i.e., Mys Tyler sharing most of the affiliate commissions with them).
By 2025, Mys Tyler aims to serve 35 million women with 500,000 contributors and achieve $112 million in revenue. It is early days, but this speaks to the founders' ambition and potential for this business.