Customer Story

FARFETCH refashions personalization through its experimentation culture

2x

Experimentation community has more than doubled in the past year, from 80 people to close to 170

20-50

Experiments running each month by the experimentation team

Experimentation is part of our DNA

Founded in 2007 as an e-commerce marketplace, FARFETCH is now a global technology platform that supports a rich pool of brands, customers, boutiques, curators, influencers, partners, and fashion-tech entrepreneurs, offering access to nearly 1,300 of the world’s most popular brands, luxury boutiques, and department stores.

Its commitment to experimentation and data-led experiences has made FARFETCH a best-in-class digital platform – and its partnership with Optimizely over the past two years has been central to its success.

“Experimentation is the only way to do product development.”
Luis Trindade
Luis Trindade

Principal Product Manager

Creating an experimentation culture

Experimentation is only as effective as the people using it, being able to learn from its results. That’s why FARFETCH is so innovative in its approach; actively encouraging and embedding a company-wide culture of experimentation so the platform can offer the best possible digital experiences, without guesswork, whilst also reducing risk. With an end goal of becoming a learning organization on a global scale, FARFETCH wanted to enable teams across the business to use real-time data and to take a ‘test and learn’ approach in their roles. This would allow them to learn from these tests and ultimately enhance the FARFETCH customer experience, faster than its competitors.

Testing the limits with Optimizely

Our experimentation platform has helped us to focus on server-side testing. Optimizely is integrated as part of this platform to extend FARFETCH’s experimentation capacities, in particular when it comes to rapid iteration capabilities on the web platform. The team can test ideas, examine resulting data, and then scale experiment ‘winners,’ utilizing real-time customer feedback throughout the process.

Luis Trindade, Principal Product Manager, FARFETCH, realized the value in experimentation early on, advocating for it to be used across the board to improve how FARFETCH engages its audiences and grow as a business. “Experimentation is absolutely transformational. Every day we are experimenting with our own processes, learning from mistakes, and making iterative improvements. Optimizely allows our teams to outline a very clear hypothesis, then use experimentation to test it out and analyze the feedback. We can then make informed decisions on whether to invest further.”

“Using experimentation through Optimizely helps us reach our end goal of being a learning organization.”
Greg Sherwin
Greg Sherwin

Senior Principal Engineer

Experimentation-powered personalization comes full circle

So far, over two years, FARFETCH has onboarded multiple teams all using one single framework for experimentation. This means the platform can innovate at every stage of the customer journey, both on its B2C front in its marketplace and on the B2B side with its partners. Through the standardization of experimentation tools and best practices across teams, FARFETCH has been able to adapt products for its users at an incredible rate, in turn helping accelerate the business’ growth.

One of FARFETCH’s biggest successes has been its creation of Inspire, its internal recommendations engine. Like most e-commerce companies, FARFETCH initially used an external solution that helped the platform generate a personalized experience for users, helping them find products on the marketplace. But FARFETCH wanted to take its personalization to a higher level, with the ambition of always offering a truly luxury 1:1, personalized experience that could be scalable.

This resulted in FARFETCH building its in-house solution, Inspire, that is today an essential part of its offering, both to consumers and to its partners. This product uses continuous experimentation on digital experiences as well as in the business logic and algorithms, to better tailor each specific touchpoint of the user journey. Each experiment results in new learnings, which inform the premise of the next test. Experimentation program learnings are shared with the entire company to help identify and define better digital products, and ultimately brought the experimentation process on a full circle journey at FARFETCH. This approach really taught the team that failed experiments were just as valuable, if not better, than successful ones to learn and improve the experience.

Results

From embarking on its mission to create a unified experimentation culture across its organization, FARFETCH has seen the tremendous power of bringing together people from different product areas to address challenges and seize opportunities using customer insights and experimentation. This approach has not just enabled the organization to fully utilise its entire talent, but strengthened business results. So much so, that the team working with experimentation has increased from 80 people to around 170 in the past year, with anywhere from 20 to 50 experiments running each month.

Greg Sherwin, Senior Principal Engineer at FARFETCH notes, “As a centre of excellence, we help FARFETCH empower individual teams with experimentation. We provide the tools, help with the data, and provide a framework for best practices, but the actual experimentation comes from the people in the team.”

Growing together

In addition to strengthening its digital platform, FARFETCH also uses the Optimizely platform to inform future growth areas. For example, the Stats Accelerator from Optimizely (an advanced multi-arm bandit algorithm), has enabled FARFETCH to test multiple, time sensitive, content changes and optimize towards performance in a short period of time. The partnership with Optimizely means FARFETCH can continue evolving its experimentation program to inform its product roadmap, and deliver personalized experiences worthy of its luxury brand partners.