This UK-based fashion tech startup has created a fashion platform–and taken advantage of Facebook’s Messenger technology–by creating a bot to assist users in finding fashion. We spoke with Chris Perrett, Hot Drop’s co-founder, who told us more about their technology and platform.
Describe Hot Drops.
Hot Drops is a fashion tech startup with an aim to make it easier for people to find fashion that matches their style. We launched our fashion platform at the start of 2016 and have just launched a separate fashion finder bot called Hot Drops for Messenger.
Tell us about the Hot Drops Fashion Platform.
Our proprietary fashion platform provides men and women in the UK with a personalized daily edit of style drops from over 300,000 fashion lines and articles.
During registration, every user completes a personal style quiz, which our technology uses to create a bespoke style profile for them. An algorithm is then used to suggest new fashion arrivals and relevant content tailored to each user. If we’ve identified that a male user generally has a smart dress code, they’re likely to see more content about Oxford shoes or how to get the perfect shirt fit, than someone we believe prefers casual jeans and tees. Likewise, the new fashion arrivals suggested in their daily drops are more likely to include a mix of blazers and smart shoes from brands they love, rather than a pair of joggers.
We also make it easy for users to vote on the suggested fashion lines and style articles, which we feed into the algorithm to improve the relevancy of the drops the user is shown in future.
Tell us about Hot Drops for Messenger.
Hot Drops for Messenger is a bot that uses our technology to make it quick for users to find fashion from over 2,100 brands in stock in their size. Users can start a conversation on Messenger and ask Alex (the bot) for help across clothing, fashion accessories and footwear. This can be from the most basic phrase like ‘jeans’ to something more specific such as ‘black Nike trainers’. Alex will then search across multiple retailers to find the best matches for each individual user.
During every conversation, Alex builds a personalized style profile for the user, ensuring any products not in stock in the user’s size or within budget are automatically filtered out. If a user likes what they see they can purchase the item directly on the retailer’s website, or save it for later within their Wishlist.
The main difference between the bot and the website is Search versus Discovery. The suggestions from Alex stem from the user’s search term, whereas on the website we aim to help users discover new arrivals and be inspired by relevant content based on a more detailed style profile. If a user really knows what they’re looking for, the bot is great for finding what’s available in their size and budget from an extensive range of brands without having to do the hard work themselves.
What inspired you to create Hot Drops for Messenger?
Since Facebook launched bots on Messenger, a huge variety of companies have developed bots to assist consumers. The vast majority have been non UK-centric and we believed there was an opportunity to use a bot to make it quicker for users to discover new fashion lines. Rather than searching across different online stores and then trying to see what’s actually in stock in a user’s size, the bot does it for them in seconds.
What value does your product have that makes it stand out against others in the fashion tech space?
We believe we’re one of the first companies to launch a bot like this within the UK fashion tech space and are at the forefront of a fundamental shift in how people shop online. We’ve invested heavily in the technology behind Hot Drops and have been able to use our agility to create a bot that makes it quick and easy for users to find fashion relevant to them.
Outside of the bot, on the main Hot Drops website we provide personalized content suggestions alongside the product picks, which we strongly feel is a huge move forward within the space and how people consume editorial content.
What has been the hardest obstacle for you in starting Hot Drops?
One of the greatest obstacles from the start has been standardizing data. All of the data sources we use for our catalog are unique, and trying to get this into a workable format took a lot of time and effort. It’s amazing for example how many different names brands can use just for the color red, plus the variations in the format used for sizes. Across these two product attributes alone our technology is able to standardize over 9,000 variations.
What has been your favorite part?
It probably sounds cliché but seeing both products come together has been personally amazing for me, as it demonstrates all the hard work from everyone involved.
We’ve built the technology from the ground up, including an analytics suite in order for us to really understand what products are popular or to identify trending categories. It’s been great to see how users interact with both of the products in different ways and to be agile enough to make changes within hours/days rather than weeks, so we can continue to make finding fashion quicker and easier by using technology.
What can we expect from Hot Drops in the future?
The bot is currently live in the UK, but we’ve already seen a surge in people in the US using the bot. We’d love to roll out the bot in further markets worldwide, as well as explore other platforms such as Kik and Telegram.
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