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: 02/13/2019

    Retail leaders need to care more about tech

    From my experience out in the "field," I firmly agree with Ryan. C-Suite execs "do not have the depth of context to fully evaluate the sales pitches they are listening to." Compounded by CIO/CTOs who do not have the full spectrum and depth of context to fully evaluate how a new retail technology will impact the human side of the retail customer experience and end-product supply chain.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2019

    Retail leaders need to care more about tech

    Let's reframe the discussion. Twenty-plus years in, CEOs still do not believe technology is a core retail leader competency? IT teams, whose job descriptions require NO worldview or experience in retail (customer experience, building products inspiring a human to purchase, understanding the human decision to purchase) replace the CEO in tech leadership? Who thinks this makes sense? Flip the coin to tech vendors? Tech vendors have already realigned their value proposition to read like a business school textbook. Three disparate mindsets circling around and around. The result is that the CEOs need to sit down and care about tech. There has been billions of dollars spent on hundreds of solutions and still the promise of technology needle has not moved. The evidence: digital shopping still has a 3 percent conversion rate [97 percent do not buy] along with the deadly 40 percent+ return rate. Retail leaders must educate themselves. Only then will CEOs and leadership have the ability to filter and build solutions to cross the technology chasm in their minds. Put the third leg on the stool, as some like to say. Dear CEO, you need a retail technology coach. Leveraging technology is THE game changer for the CEO of a retail company. Understanding technology is an opportunity to execute a CEO's vision.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Is there really wisdom in the crowd?

    Good point Jeff, "great fashion storytelling." Love it is the Pinterest mantra! Aspiration vs. Inspiration vs. the Reality of the real world, we buy clothes we like to wear on our bodies matching our fit, look and feel preferences. Lack of preference matching is always evidenced by the price tags hanging in one's closet.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Is there really wisdom in the crowd?

    Crowdsourced data is generalized data, skewed by individual human interpretation of the question[s]. Layering "surprisingly popular" on top of crowdsourced data might work for static questions, like what is the capital of PA, but really, do we need to use crowdsourcing to discover the capital of PA? "Surprisingly Popular" and "Crowdsourced" data is a snapshot in time, not forward-looking. Especially fleeting are the "Popular" insights of the crowd. Good research queries are based on deep insights into the business question the researcher is truly seeking to solve.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2019

    Will a new rewards program expand Target’s circle of guests?

    Being a huge fan of Target, both personally and professionally, I would rather see more sales associates on the floor than a 1 percent perk. While Target is laid out simply enough, frequently it is time consuming to find things. Resulting in trying to flag down an associate as they race past, who usually has to pull out a device to figure out where to send me. Aisle C? Ok, Aisle C -- product not found. I point this out as it is a frequent scenario when shopping Target. "It’s about discovery, inspiration and an effortlessly joyful shopping experience," according to Mr. Gomez. Bottom line: effortlessly, joyful has big potential! 1 percent, not so much in a time crunch.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2019

    Are legacy retailers on the right track or heading off the tracks?

    The oxymoron of legacy retail, the love-hate relationship of change. Nineteen years into the 21st century, most legacy retailers fear technology, lacking the courage to take a deep dive into enlightenment. Focused solely on quarterly earnings as the life raft of living another quarter. Lip service is the measurement of a lack of interest or awareness of technology and how it has changed the retail environment is now on full display.
  • Posted on: 02/06/2019

    Is Amazon Vine a win for all?

    Amazon Vine appears to be beneficial to Amazon. Under the program, Vine members are now professional reviewers, paid up to $100,000.00 a year in product. Meanwhile, vendors pay thousands of dollars to Amazon to have a SKU reviewed. Sounds like fuzzy logic resulting in biased reviews.
  • Posted on: 02/04/2019

    Did Trader Joe’s make the right decision to end grocery deliveries?

    Trader Joe's is experiential grocery shopping without even trying. Whole Foods, Walmart, Kroger etc. and their endless flood of PR schemes and enhancements based on delivery rather than food (product) is without merit in the world of Trader Joe's.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2019

    Can sentiment analysis improve merchandising calls?

    Predicting sentiment based on linear representations of data, i.e.; geo, clicks, trade area, weather, etc. is a slippery slope, subjective to the interpretation and possible bias of the software or human translator. The case for sentiment analysis for general merchandisers has a higher probability of demonstrating value than retailers of apparel and other products purchased based on highly sensitive personal preferences. Like the thousands of other solutions out there angling to interpret human behavior to improve sales, supply chain, etc. sentiment analysis focuses on complex interpretations hoping to interpret the abstraction of the individual human decision to purchase.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2019

    Kohl’s continues wellness push with WW collaboration

    We have all seen it -- a big empty retail space once touted as the new thing, new for idealistic events meant to inspire customer interaction. A couple months in, the programs fall under their own weight (no pun intended) driven by the heavy lift of program creation, execution, staffing and the never-ending pursuit of consumer participants. Core in executing a collaboration is a reason for being, embraced by those tasked with the rah-rah of execution. Richard Simmons for Kohl's? A real stretch.
  • Posted on: 01/29/2019

    Are new brick and mortar solutions the key to digital brand growth?

    Exciting retail. The potential and likely future of "have to shop" destination retail. New turnkey marketplaces, allowing fresh, ever-changing retail environments that are lacking at the mall. People still love to shop in physical environments. People are just tired of shopping at the mall. Turnkey marketplaces are the new pop-ups. Access, democratizing retail for digitally-native entrepreneurs.
  • Posted on: 01/28/2019

    Cloud and AI seen fueling digital transformation

    Cloud and/or hybrid cloud computing affords cost savings leveraging IoT. Edge computing can combine cloud resources from various vendors to enabling "expert" AI-enabled intelligent systems to create countless, customized retail solutions, from supply chain to querying for individual customer preference intelligence. Big Data stockpiled in individual retail silos unleashed! Companies like Microsoft Cognitive Services, Google AI, and Watson are each in the business of democratizing AI for all. Each has platforms, requiring no coding experience, designed to enable anyone to try their hand at building customized business solutions. An opportunity for the C-suite to test-drive AI. As individual retailers process "getting” AI enhanced cloud computing, the rest of the digital world has already passed them by. Cloud computing is the equivalent of trading in the old sedan for a Ferrari. An equivalency most will understand.
  • Posted on: 01/25/2019

    How much inventory visibility do retailers need to give consumers?

    Retailers are in business to sell stuff. For all the retail-speak of the touted "customer experience," this is a top level no-brainer. This is not a "good to have" this is a "have to have." At the top of the list, real-time inventory. Forget robots sweeping the floor on aisle 10, forget AI to enhance the customer experience. It all means nothing if the customer has no clue if the item they want to buy is or is not in stock. The lasting sting of poor customer experience.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2019

    NRF: Technologies promise to reshape fitting rooms

    Where to begin? Personal privacy in a fitting room with mirrors measuring a body in the process of dressing? Creepy factor. Avatars built upon measuring a body to match inventory with the same measurements is an extremely linear solution. Having little to do with how an individual likes their clothes to fit, look and FEEL on their body. Ever wonder why someone's clothes are too tight or too loose? Fit preferences. Size is not fit. Measurements are not fit. Fit is personal. Fit is a complex multi-dimensional set of individual sensory-preferences, magnified by dozens of product attributes like fabric, fiber, stretch, woven, etc. What does make sense? The ability to contact and interact with a sales associate while half-dressed in a dimly lit cubicle, staring into the full-body reflection of one's self.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2019

    NRF: Will success in mobile shopping depend on progressive web apps?

    Startling even today, mobile apps suffer from 2 percent conversion! With all the efforts put forth in new shopping apps designed to enhance the digital shopping experience, it all comes back to load time? Shopping online can be extremely tedious, so many items to sort through. Exacerbate the pain with slow load times? Forget it. Yes, PWA adoption, making it fun and easy to shop on mobile devices, should be a high priority for retailers. Wondering why it has taken so long?

Contact Cynthia

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.