Cynthia Holcomb

Founder | CEO, Prefeye - Preference Science Technologies Inc.
Cynthia Holcomb, CEO and Founder of Prefeye, is pioneering the Art and Science of Preference. Her mission: humanize the digital experience, crossing the current emotional and sensory engagement barriers imposed by the digital world.

Prefeye technologies are inspired by Cynthia’s 20+ years in the apparel and fashion industry, designing and building products for dozens of retailers and brands, including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Lord and Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Product Group, Pendleton, QVC, Speedo and the home products industry.

As Design Director to Nordstrom, Cynthia spent years watching shoppers make the decision to purchase or NOT to purchase. Curious, this led to 15 years of research and technological development based on the cognitive sciences of psychology, artificial intelligence and neuroscience. Cynthia’s focus: develop an agnostic, digital platform to decode how information is represented, processed, and transformed by human sensory perception, memory and emotion into the decision to purchase a product or brand by an individual shopper.

Prefeye, Cynthia’s 5th startup, is a preference recommendation platform, individually preference-matching people to products. Prefeye is the digital equivalent of in-store shopping for products humans purchase based on emotion and individual sensory preference. Products like apparel, cars, homes, home furnishings, shoes and art.

Cynthia’s work has appeared in Time Magazine, CNN, WWD and Apparel Technology. Cynthia holds a B.S. in Clothing and Textile Science. Nine patents filed in Preference shopping science.

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  • Posted on: 11/20/2017

    How open are consumers to AI-driven shopping?

    AI processes the same data currently collected by retailers like consumer demographics, purchase history, and various inferred user behavior data, etc., to offer up "AI" recommendations. Same as current and past shopping applications apply the same collected consumer data through older systems of collaborative filtering, segmentation, inferred behavior, etc. AI cannot be "spurred to be adopted" just because it is AI. AI is not for the consumer to decide. It is the retailer who must invest time and expertise in understanding how they design and build an AI system to maximize the value for each of their individual customers, based on the retailers' brand, business model, and products they sell. Knowing this, the developers writing the code for an AI application MUST know exactly the outcomes the retailer is seeking. In coding an AI solution, by virtue of being coded by a human, subjectivity is introduced [for shopping]. Each retailer must spend the time and resources to ensure the code in their AI solution is relevant to their customer, brand and product lines.The question of why customers/shoppers only using Virtual Assistants for simple commands? Pretty simple. Order more toilet tissue, Alexa. Versus. Alexa, order a pair of cropped pants with a slight bell at the hem, slim through the knee and high waisted, but not too high waisted, in a soft denim. Alexa, you know how I like my pants and jeans to fit, with extra ease on the hips. And “oh yeah Alexa” make sure the pants do not touch my ankle, I like them shorter, but not too short! Alexa, you are a doll!
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    Is private label grocery about to go to the next level?

    Trader Joe's is years ahead of the trend. Shop Trader Joe's, read their mantra on the wall, read the ingredients in their private label products. Natural, clean and tasty products. Not just basics, but tasty specialty foods, on gastronomical trend at affordable prices. Far more difficult to implement than selling basic commodities.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    Indie retailers can survive – even thrive – during the holidays

    Yes, the human touch! Personal and meaningful.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2017

    Tech lets gift receivers decide what they get for Christmas

    My first thought is, define "personalization." The CNBC article says this is "almost like sending a gift card, but a shopper is able to select a specific item for the recipient, instead of a dollar amount." In turn, the receiver can specify color, size, etc. or exchange it for something of same or less value.This is a workaround under the guise of personalization. It's much simpler just to give a gift card to someone rather than making the recipient do this workaround to get their gift.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2017

    Are data sharing concerns still holding back true personalization?

    You are absolutely correct Nir. Great comment. Retailers are wasting resources trying to "reinvent the wheel" with shotgun approaches to personalization. When staring them in the face are silos of unique to each retailer, individual customer preference intelligence.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2017

    Are data sharing concerns still holding back true personalization?

    Your customers share their most inner, personal sensory and aesthetic preferences with you, their retailer in each and every purchase they make, keep or return. Daily, individual customers tell you, their retailer, what they like and do not like, in real time. Retailers have had no means to translate this treasure trove of individual customer preference intelligence into individually relevant offers, until now.Preference Shopping Science knows why a customer "loves" a product, translating individual customer preferences into highly relevant, individual product recommendations. All the demographics, political party, social posts are distractions from the bottom line of why people buy a product. Highly unique, highly subjective, individual human sensory preferences. Have you ever gone through a rounder of 150 jackets in under a minute? Did you consciously have to stop and think about each jacket? No! Your unique, individualized, systematic biases [aka individual sensory preferences] automated 95% of the process. Answering the sensory preference question? Why we fall in love with things.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2017

    Omnichannel is just a term to describe everyday shopping

    Omnichannel initiatives? 20 years -- 2 decades of retailer quagmire. The disconnect? Retailers are stuck in limbo. Hiring tech folk and tech advisors to make decisions for them propping up the newest shiny tech solution to become the latest mantra blown by the forces of tech vs. retailer in-house politics. This reality is cemented in process and business decisions, drip, drip, dripping over the past 20 years. To combat Amazon, I recommend a new position: chief merchant technologist. An experienced merchant with customer experience technology chops. A merchant that know products and customers inside and out, enabling navigating the plethora of micro fixes into a cohesive holistic multi faceted solution that can be explained in one sentence.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2017

    Are retailers caught in a content trap?

    Easy. Brand control. Control over their brand[s]. The fundamental life blood, revenue generating, core of any retail business, its brand. Brand control, a difficult mindset to cross. Just look how well "omnichannel" and other digital mantras have worked out for most retailers.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2017

    Big Data is done, put a fork in it

    Good points. I agree with Mr. Yani's comments as well. What is missing? Data scientists are working to interpret data on a subject requiring deep knowledge only an experienced merchant has earned. Thus the disconnect. To cross this chasm will require specialized merchants to work hand in hand with data scientists.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2017

    Big Data is done, put a fork in it

    The best way for a retailer to leverage data? Think outside the box of AI, ML, segmentation, visually alike, collaborative filtering and the like. The best data to leverage? Customer preference intelligence. Daily individual customers tell a retailer what they like and do not like. Customer preference microdata, cognitively translated by an expert system able to understand the inter-relationship between thousands of sensory attribute data points in a product to uncover the specific, individual sensory preferences of a human customer; in other words, like a human thinks and processes data.AI and machine learning are still in their infancy when it comes to processing data like the human brain, lacking the ability to understand the subjective nuances between a person and a product to truly leverage data in personalized recommendations. Retailers have reams of micro customer preference intelligence accessible right before their eyes.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2017

    Why is it so hard to get retail associates to upsell?

    Thanks David! I totally agree. Doesn't sound like brain surgery to figure this one out.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2017

    Why is it so hard to get retail associates to upsell?

    Really, what incentive does a part-time worker have to upsell? Forced into part-time work as an adult [not teen part-time work] without any benefits, enabling retailers to avoid the expense of providing health insurance. Lack of upward mobility, managing two part-time jobs just to get by ... "atta boy," "atta girl" does not pay the bills nor inspire the desire to upsell. Plain old human nature.
  • Posted on: 11/06/2017

    Can Kroger make a name for itself in fashion?

    Regionally, Kroger has offered a full range of apparel for the entire family via Fred Meyer superstores for many years. Because Kroger already sells apparel, the context is different than Safeway selling apparel. When a customer walks in the store, most entrances drive traffic to apparel, home furnishings, hardware, garden, etc. en route to the grocery isles. Kroger has a specific apparel customer "taste profile." The "taste profile" is just beyond being a basic, well made in a classic "American style of manufacturing" and not cheap relative to brands in this space. Seems to come down to how many regions are needed to ignite enough new growth in Kroger apparel to making Kroger relevant in apparel to the bottom line.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2017

    Large brands and retailers expand the subscription economy

    Surprise, excitement, the dopamine thrill of "discovery shopping" delivered in a box. An emotional "fix" in a pressurized world. A happy "cocktail of diversion" delivered without fail, right to your door. Retailers who get this right, win ... and win big.Retailers, who do not get it right, create "angst" for their customers with each delivery. A subscription service holds the opportunity for an emotional, personal engagement with each customer. Screw it up, risk losing a customer for life!
  • Posted on: 11/02/2017

    New pop-up concept is a capital idea

    Everyone likes to eat! Many people love Food Network. People are pre-disposed to prefer "hip, new food vibes"... Foodie culture. Driving traffic to a mall with ever new, changing "pop up" tasty food offerings is a no-brainer.

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