If you’re an avid fashion shopper, chances are you’ve heard of Lyst. The 12-year-old shopping app has the largest assortment of premium and luxury fashion online in one place, according to Emma McFerran, the company’s newly-appointed CEO. McFerran joined the company in 2014 and has risen through the ranks to her most recent position, which was officially announced in July.
In her new role, McFerran is dedicated to fine-tuning Lyst’s app to strengthen the user experience. “Our members are our most powerful cohorts. … We use data and technology [from the app] to drive recommendations, which are personal to [consumers]. The more we learn about you, the better the offerings become,” McFerran said on the latest episode of The Glossy Podcast.
In May 2021, the company announced a “pre-IPO” funding round of $85 million. As Lyst focuses on scaling its business under McFerran’s leadership, eventually going public and broadening its offerings and brand partnerships will remain top priorities.
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
Distinguishing the Lyst customer
“One of the challenges with having 200 million people use [Lyst] is that there are various groups and archetypes. What we see from a behavioral perspective, though, is that there are some power shoppers who know what they love, the brands [they like] and what they’re after. They use [Lyst] as this secret weapon, like, ‘Lyst is gonna help me track down what it is that I’m looking for.’ … We might have a sustainable shopper who [Lyst] can help through our edits by showing which brands are sustainable and where they can find that collection of things that works for them. We have these groupings [of shoppers], but it varies by what they’re after and also where they are in the world.”
Profitability vs. scaling
“For [Lyst], it has always been and will continue to be the absolute priority that we serve our customers really well and that they want to come back to us. The magic about driving profitable growth is that you have these loyal users who love your product and want to keep coming back to Lyst to shop. That’s our focus. [However], most businesses will need to move the dial more toward profitability and away from it just being about growth at all costs. If you have a strong business model that really keeps coming back to, ‘Are we building something that creates customer value? And is that the core of our engine?’ then you should be able to navigate these moments and this time well.
Expectations for holiday
“We are seeing trends emerge. It’s a really interesting moment, because there are various costs of living crises happening around the world and a lot of people are affected. There’s a lot of speculation about what consumers are going to do in this moment. We’re seeing, probably unsurprisingly, that luxury and premium are continuing to take more share. Fast fashion is reducing. There are some interesting things around what customers will do with their discretionary [funds] in this moment because we hear that people will be pulling back. Some of the insights I’m gathering suggest that maybe people aren’t going to buy new cars or they might not go on a big vacation, but they may still dress up and buy themselves a new pair of shoes or a dress for parties. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I think we are going to see those tree gifting purchases continue. People are excited and still want to do those things, but it’s going to continue to be more luxury leaning.”