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. To learn more, visit:
  • Posted on: 07/19/2019

    Is Toys ‘R’ Us just playing around or will Americans buy its new concept store?

    From the consumer side, the Toys "R" Us brand is about isles and isles of toys for kids. Not adults. Kids don't care nor are they aware of the business criteria adults impose on a toy store. A "store" filled with toys needs no branded explanation to a youngster. Walmart, Target, and others usually have only one or two aisles for toys. Exciting -- an innovative joint venture of TRU Kids and b8ta. A destination in the making if those in charge create a dynamic, organized experience, not a "free for all" for both kids and adults.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2019

    Will Gap’s new loyalty program bring meaningful rewards?

    As the saying goes, "all talk, no action." Loyalty is a misguided Band-Aid designed to stoke stock prices rather than face the decade-old truth of lack of product innovation. Amazing how Gap leadership allowed the Gap brand to be destroyed over a decade. It has to be very political within the Gap organization to allow slow-motion destruction of the brand.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2019

    Alexa – Are Americans ready to shop by voice?

    Voice commerce will take off when the Powers That Be understand that the human decision to purchase is not based on linear decision trees. Rather it is based on a cognitive process, human emotion driven by individual sensory preferences. Visual is only one aspect of the sensory profile of a product. Voice commerce will take off when technologies are implemented by Alexa eliciting individual human preference intelligence used as an agent to filter through millions and millions of individual sensory profiled product SKUs. No visuals needed. Retail product feeds are jam-packed with sensory data waiting to be translated into sensory intelligence. It is WAY past time for retailers to apply retail common sense to the digital world.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2019

    CEO says Walmart’s stores are the answer to Amazon – at least for groceries

    If grocery is considered Walmart's online competitive advantage, then Walmart's fortunes seem to be bleak. carries millions and millions of product SKUs beyond grocery, most with higher profit margins than a loaf of bread. If grocery is the key to beating Amazon, Walmart needs to come up with a better reason for consumers to buy groceries at Consumers don't care how many Walmart stores offer grocery pickup, beyond their own store Consumers care about the quality of the groceries they purchase for their family, on or offline. If Walmart is banking on groceries to beat Amazon, Walmart needs to up its game.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2019

    Lululemon takes experiential retailing to 20,000 square feet

    Most neighborhoods have small workout studios with a loyal following. Lululemon's flagship will definitely shake the Lincoln Park norm in the beginning. Replacing the norm, however, including the personal relationships tied to many gyms and workout facilities, the Lululemon experience will need to be exceptional over the long haul.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2019

    Is Nordstrom staring at a ‘no-growth’ retail future?

    Nordstrom's middle-market customer, those between contemporary and designer, are the consumers Nordstrom needs to address quickly. When I say quickly, the fact that UBS's assessment is even being discussed reflects the direct impact of the decade-old Nordstrom decision to embrace centralized buying and to continue "dumbing down" large key item "fashion" basic programs. A decade or so ago, Nordstrom had regional buyers and fashion novelty for the middle market customer, creating a reason to buy, even at a higher price. The miss for Nordstrom is huge online assortments which are difficult to shop, leaving stores filled with non-competitive, expensive key item fashion basics. UBS has pointed out the obvious; the shift in shopper behavior is not new, ask Macy's and others. To be relevant Nordstrom needs to return to exciting the customer in the middle by taking a fresh look at private brand pricing and product. There they should have room to play catch up. Nordstrom is a master of reinvention.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2019

    Mom-and-pop grocer gives SNAP recipients an organic foods discount

    Good health is good for everyone in our country. Unfortunately, those with the least, bear the burden of choice based on income rather than health. Produce, especially organic has a short shelf life for the full price shopper. For those on government aid, an opportunity for grocers to share rather than toss is happening in some cities. While part of the challenge is education, more often than not grocers serving the SNAP community stock their stores with products focused on filling peoples' stomachs as the first priority. Which leaves health in second place. Providing and incentivizing healthier choices for all is good for all Americans.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2019

    Will a worker walkout put a kink in Amazon’s Prime Day results?

    Amazon is a technology company leveraging human employees to pick, pack and deliver products at the speed of technology. Soon robots, drones, and autonomous vehicles will replace the messiness of human employees. A short term problem remedied by Amazon's mission, it seems, to be ubiquitous in all aspects of human life. Consumers, entranced by one-hour deliveries and how helpful Alexa is to their daily lives, may one day yearn for the days when the skies were free of drones.
  • Posted on: 07/03/2019

    NRF study says customers dig retail tech

    After 20+ years of online shopping, retail technologies have done much to improve the "physicality" of digital shopping. Quality in-stock information, BOPIS, fast delivery, all mechanics of retail. Retailers have yet to invest in the individual "human" time-consuming experience of having to sort through thousands of SKUs to hopefully find what they set out to buy. In soft goods, 3 percent conversion speaks for itself. 35 percent to 45 percent return rates speak for themselves. The trends listed in this survey are more of the same: sound bites. Finding what "you want" online is still a HUGE pain point yet to be solved. Retailers require their customers to invest time to sort through thousands of SKUs with no guarantee of success. This is the real customer experience, after 20+ years of online shopping.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2019

    Fashion seekers hunt for treasure in Costco’s warehouses

    I agree with you Jeff! Costco should stay in the lane they have now. Not venture into fashion. Thanks for the comment!
  • Posted on: 07/02/2019

    Fashion seekers hunt for treasure in Costco’s warehouses

    Costco has mastered the key item basic business across the fashion spectrum. Costco, quality fabrics and construction for a low price, covering multiple tastes and styles in just a few SKUs. Smart shoppers immediately "get" Costco solid color basics. The same basics sell at department stores for four times the price. Plus Costco takes returns, no questions. Having personally designed and built products globally, Costco basics [difficult to discern what brand when worn] have already impacted major department stores. Costco will continue its strong growth in apparel basics. Costco will be making a mistake if it veers off course in an effort to sell real fashion, leaving Costco sitting with a bunch of prints, patterns, and silhouette markdowns. My advice to Costco: stay in your lane.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2019

    What real value are influencers bringing to retailers and brands?

    Amazon needs a few influencers in key lifestyle categories, otherwise shoppers must literally sort through tons of product and still come up empty-handed. Influencers are inspirational, like Pinterest. Everyone needs a little inspiration once in a while. Curation is like shorthand. Done well, the intended customer gets it immediately. Smart -- a physical world-like merchandising strategy addressing the sensory limitations of online shopping.
  • Posted on: 06/27/2019

    The data and analytics talk that must stop

    It is pretty simple. Answer a couple of questions. 1. Do you know what you like? Yes. 2. Do you know what you don't like? Yes. 3. Did you have to "think" about it? No! Why? Individual human sensory-preferences. This is how "you" know what you like without having to think. For instance, how long does it take you to pick one jacket out of a hundred jackets? one minute? Then you try it on. It must match your "unspoken" sensory preferences of how you like your jackets to fit, look and feel on your body. Otherwise, you don't buy it. Simple, obvious to everyone who wears clothes. Same works for cars, shoes, homes, furniture, etc. Things we humans purchase are based on our own unique, individual sensory-preferences. Solving the tediously old conversation of the "customer experience" has been stymied by the protocols of computer science decision tree-based solutions, totally devoid of eliciting individual human preference intelligence. Data and analytics solve for explicit [customer journey] human behavior rather than implicit [invisible] human sensory-preference intelligence. The dichotomy of applying computer science to solve for the human-centric abstraction of individual human preference does not work as evidenced by the lackluster solutions of the past 20 years. Retailers, marketers, and Martech need to understand the fundamental difference -- which should be pretty easy, as they are humans too. Don't get me started on how AI initiatives will be a waste of time if they do not incorporate Preference Shopping Science.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2019

    Is complaining about customer service becoming America’s national pastime?

    E-tailers, ever try finding a phone number to call them? How about the chatbots, programmed with irrelevant responses. Brick and Mortar, with few exceptions, is like shopping a self serve warehouse. The best approach to getting rid of the truth? Think like a customer.
  • Posted on: 06/24/2019

    How do consumers define cleanliness in grocery stores?

    Dirty checkout conveyor belts and counters. Yuck. Gross. After wiping the handles of the shopping cart with provided wipes and selecting the food to eat, it all ends up on a dirty checkout belt or counter. While the grocer may have a sparkly clean floor, and bathrooms are almost always less than clean, the final mile for grocery food is a grimy checkout. Worse, self-checkout scanners with smears of who knows what? This is sort of like dragging the food across the store floor before putting it into the grocery bag.

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