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: 06/14/2018

    Retailers stand out by vetoing the ‘pink tax’

    Today versus a decade ago, hidden, unfair fees, leveled at one group of people, once exposed will likely undermine the credibility of a retailer. The question is why a "pink tax" has to be absorbed? If both the male and female version of a product cost the same, what needs to be absorbed? Sounds like a smoke screen to deflect those less interested in finding out the real reason. Based on today's consumers, retailers need to get on top of this tax before it sours their reputation.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2018

    Macy’s takes stake in retail-as-a-service tech firm

    Macy's is on a roll. The essence of their strategy? Experiential retailing married to a whole new world of product discovery. Baby steps now; real momentum for the future of Macy's as the company redefines the physical world of retail. And no, I do not own Macy's stock!
  • Posted on: 06/12/2018

    Are chronic online returners only a few bad apples?

    These polls cover a swath of products. It is harder to justify keeping a pair of shoes or a dress that does not fit versus keeping shampoo or tools you don't like. There will always be abusers of return policies. Yet all returns are not equal. For instance, apparel is very difficult to purchase online, devoid of any sensory cues, hence high return rates due to individual preferences not being met (the customer did not like the fabric, the piece fit too tight, etc.). Whereas other products are purchased based on specs. Bottom line, circular-return retail is expensive back-and-forth to the DC. Retailers should not penalize all customers based on return policy abusers. To grow an online business of products purchased based on human emotion and individual sensory preferences requires one return policy. To grow an online business of products purchased based on specs requires another type of return policy. We are in a new era: Return Policy 2.0.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2018

    Is AI the key to legacy brands’ revitalization?

    The term "AI" is suddenly applied to all things tech. One has to dig deep past the rhetoric to understand if a new technology is really segmentation in disguise. That being said, I think Cosabella is way ahead of the curve in re-branding itself for a new generation. An open mind, embracing both human insights and technology to create a view of a brand's customer preferences is a solid day of work at the office!
  • Posted on: 06/06/2018

    Macy’s taps staff for their influencer clout

    Fabulous, authentic and real. What an opportunity for sales associates and personal stylists to grow and learn and expand their knowledge of retail as a business and a passion. Plus get rewarded/compensated for their efforts! Micro-entrepreneurs within Macy's! Many who work in stores do so because they love clothes, shoes, home, etc. I applaud Macy's for their vision in this area, empowering so many sales associates and stylists with the opportunity to grow within their jobs. Professional influencers and bloggers have passed the point of interacting with customers and products on the floor. A great reason for Macy's Ambassadors!
  • Posted on: 06/05/2018

    Is data-driven marketing holding back storytelling?

    Telling a story from the heart via interpreting data without the benefit of a master vision is challenging. On the other hand, disparate data interpreted by different creatives, under the umbrella of a genuine and authentic brand vision, is a wonderful playground for creatives to craft stories coming from the heart of the brand. Cold, hard data can be the impetus for inspiring new stories to humanize and endear the brand to the intended customer.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2018

    Retailers can make personalization work

    I agree with Nikki! Inferring individual human preferences based on behavior means nothing when it comes to "knowing me" or "knowing you" as an individual. Inferred behavior to recommend a car, a house or a dress? Certainly the brain trust of the world can go deeper than that! After all, the brain trust is composed of humans! We all get the inexplicable feeling of knowing when we love a product. Why we fall in love with things, the space between our thoughts -- our unconscious and time-saving ability as humans to prefer one thing over another.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2018

    Is GDPR an opportunity or a threat to retailers?

    Customer data. What U.S. retailers will invest in a comprehensive strategy? How many consumers have the time to read a new data policy from every retailer? The best data policy is a paragraph even a 5th grader can understand. More than a paragraph and it is a "slice and dice" game leveraging legal jargon as a word cloud, protecting the retailer rather than the consumer.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2018

    Target’s new Instagrammable collaboration is a sweet deal

    Leveraging ice cream and Instagram, brilliant! Who doesn't love ice cream? While we in retail know the trends, imagine Target shoppers in hundreds of towns across the nation stumbling upon ice cream! No instructions necessary.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2018

    1-800-Flowers stays a step ahead of disruptive tech

    McCann demonstrates he is a retailer who is not afraid of technology. In fact, he embraces it as a function of business, much like the 1-800 technology of the past. So often retailers outsource technology decisions/fact-finding to in-house innovation or technology teams, killing a holistic view from which to evaluate which emerging technologies are most customer-centric to their retail brand. This broad disconnect is evidenced in lagging adoption and misguided attempts to implement the most simple of technologies against legacy systems. Guidance for the C-suite; become "merchant technologists." Technology IS retail. It's an astounding way to directly connect with your customers. Not to be outsourced to tech teams, giving you the retailer "Cliffs Notes."
  • Posted on: 05/23/2018

    Lessons in goodwill and the power of feelings

    Faux goodwill is a turn-off no matter the size of the organization. We all know fake sincerity, we can feel it a mile away. A direct barometer of how leadership treats their employees? Possibly. In either case, smile or no smile, knowledgeable employees who care and connect create great customer experiences.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2018

    Choosy marries AI and social tagging to disrupt fast fashion

    For Choosy and Ms. Zeng, this is a no-brainer! Evidenced by $5.4 million in seed funding. Instagram and Human Style Scouts know what styles to pick. It has no inventory, vast, low-cost manufacturing capabilities, small one-time runs using on-hand fabrication and owning the factory. And clout to boot! The perfect setup. Is this doable for others? It's unlikely without the competitive advantages of Ms. Zeng.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2018

    eBay asks consumers what they want

    Words are subjective to both the person asking and the person responding. Asking a shopper to pronounce their interests is a version of segmentation, resulting in funneling a shopper's "interests" into buckets, likely followed by a decision tree processing all or most of the categories self-identified by the shopper into a superficial "profile." A macro filter -- versus a deeper intelligence, able to connect and integrate the shopper's disparate interests, getting the shopper to products they love and buy and keep. Given eBay's vast catalog, matching a shopper to some universalized average, is a start. Will this appeal to eBay consumers? It will depend on execution, mirroring the comments voiced earlier today by my BrainTrust colleagues.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2018

    Walmart drops Scan & Go tech – again

    Scan and go is just one way to check out, best suited for a few items. Unless, of course, a new trend comes along where shoppers enjoy playing cashier! Otherwise scanning a shopping cart of items is not a convenience! Not to mention advertised sale pricing is frequently not updated in the scan and go system. Ugh! Humans are still needed!
  • Posted on: 05/16/2018

    Amazon plans to become the fresh food safety leader

    Is it really "innovative" to rely on technology as the premier defense in the detection of food safety issues? The fact Amazon can "detect public sentiment in 16 million emails, phone calls ...," etc. per week, is stunningly impressive! As I eat my processed, controlled deli ham, I can't help but hope the human serving the ham is still accountable for the safety of the ham. Which has me wondering, will Amazon use technology to absolve humans from the responsibilities of everyday life under the guise of deli ham?

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