Last May, a Stitch Fix customer visited a section of the internet apparel retailer’s site called Complete Your Looks, where algorithms are supposed to recommend sweaters, shirts and other items that complement clothing the customer has bought in the past. On this visit, though, Stitch Fix didn’t offer any recommendations, a glitch that could cause your typical customer to leave empty-handed and frustrated.
Other customers had encountered the same problem, raising the prospect that Stitch Fix could be losing sales from what was an algorithm problem. But this was no ordinary shopper: She was the wife of Bill Gurley, a prominent startup investor from Benchmark and a Stitch Fix board member since 2013, according to a person familiar with the matter. After Gurley complained to the company about his wife’s experience, Stitch Fix’s new president at the time, Elizabeth Spaulding, directed the manager of the team responsible for its recommendations algorithms to work around the clock if necessary to correct the issue, the person said.