CONVERSATIONS WITH COMMERCENEXT Episode 9: Career Growth and Artificial Intelligence Powered Retail Innovation

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Episode 9: Career Growth and Artificial Intelligence Powered Retail Innovation

Ft: Julie Bornstein, Founder & CEO at THE YES

Hear the full episode wherever you listen to podcasts or read the highlights below.

From Finance to Fashion

Julie Bornstein has years of experience with fashion ecommerce brands, including Nordstrom, Sephora, Urban Outfitters and Stitch Fix. She built Nordstrom’s online presence, oversaw Sephora’s website and loyalty program, served as the Head of Ecommerce for Urban Outfitters and helped grow Stitch Fix while preparing for its IPO. Now, Bornstein serves as the CEO and Founder of THE YES, a start-up building the future of ecommerce using artificial intelligence to power personalized product recommendations.

While initially working in corporate finance, this future ecommerce whisperer realized her strengths and primary interests lay in helping people shop, and wanted to develop products in the retail industry with a particular interest in using artificial intelligence to make shopping more efficient.

Julie’s Career Growth Pro Tip

If Bornstein could give one piece of advice to young professionals in her industry, she’d tell them to “form partnerships with your peers and focus on ways that you can help them. That builds a sense of comradery that I think sets everyone up for so much more success.” The relationships that she built early in her career were extremely valuable to her, and she continues to prioritize building relationships with her peers today. Good co-worker relations benefit organizations, too. 

If you want to learn more about best practices for building a modern marketing org, check out our CommerceNext IRL session on YouTube with Wayfair, Revlon and JustFab.

THE YES Forms the Perfect Retail Marriage: AI and Personalization

Bornstein specializes in artificial intelligence and has spent much of her career working with it. Known as a leader in the intersection between retail and technology, Bornstein believes, “There’s real power in models that can scan millions of data points and make good decisions.” Additionally, she thinks the most important part of artificial intelligence is “understanding the inputs” and using them effectively.

Through her years of experience in the ecommerce industry, Bornstein began to apply her AI knowledge when forming THE YES. It is centralized around the idea that understanding the preferences of every user is extremely powerful and will lead to better shopping experiences. Technology has innovated so quickly throughout Bornstein’s time in the ecommerce industry that she was able to create THE YES, taking advantage of these technological improvements and turning them into a digital department store. 

THE YES is now modeling the future of personalized ecommerce, building their business around “the ability to say yes and no to a product so that they can clear the product away,” and save the customer’s preferences for smarter, more seamless shopping experiences. In summation, “the whole system is really built as a learning system to understand how to make shopping more adaptive to each customer.”

Artificial intelligence plays a huge role in the function of THE YES. After attributing all of their products with relevant data points, their automated tagging system can identify these data points on each product, whether it be objective or subjective. They use machine learning to attribute data and connect it to individual customers. This system has helped create an extremely intelligent, efficient and personalized shopping experience for customers. THE YES has both a high retention rate and very low return rate on their app, further proving that personalized experiences are king in ecommerce.

Julie’s Ecommerce Predictions

Bornstein predicts that the future of ecommerce lies directly where her expertise lies. Big retailers are at a turning point, having to change and adapt legacy tech systems to create more dynamic experiences for their customers, as she is doing at THE YES now. And, it’s the younger generations that will ultimately drive these roadmaps. Millennials and Gen Z are so adept in technology that they can be extremely valuable subject matter experts in order for brands to gain insights into how technology is being used. These customers, in particular, are often frustrated when they feel as though they can’t give any feedback about their experiences in ecommerce, as well.

Julie Bornstein provided many insights into her success and values while being a guest on the Conversations with CommerceNext podcast. Listen to the whole episode and learn all the great tips, tricks and expert advice she gave. 

If you’re interested in learning more about The YES or Julie’s vision for the future of shopping, check out her fireside chat with Lauren Thomas, Retail Reporter at CNBC which we recorded at CommerceNext IRL in September.