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Being an Early Adopter in Retail: How Thread + Seed’s Melanie Michaud Stays Ahead of the Curve

Being an Early Adopter in Retail: How Thread + Seed’s Melanie Michaud Stays Ahead of the Curve

Embracing an early adopter mindset in retail is crucial for staying ahead in a rapidly evolving market. That’s something Melanie Michaud, founder of upscale boutique Thread + Seed, knows well. 

Thread + Seed is a successful multi-location business, with a dedicated client base invested in the premium selection of high-quality clothing and clean beauty. It has a tight focus, excels in customer experience and is a vehicle for Melanie’s innovative experiments in retail.

We sat down to talk to Melanie about the importance of innovation, what it means to be an early adopter and how to keep a tight focus on your business’ success. 

Stay ahead of the curve

Lightspeed’s innovative point of sale gives you the technology to set new standards for success.

“I’m old school retail. That’s why I have brick and mortar.” 

But old school doesn’t mean outdated

Melanie has experience with unfocused, disconnected, outdated systems. “I worked as a director of marketing for a chain of beachwear stores. And my biggest frustration was they didn’t have their inventory synced with their online. We couldn’t fulfill orders because things were selling in the stores or were not accurately inventoried because it wasn’t all connected.” 

That experience helped shape Melanie’s dedication to being an early adopter. “When I launched, I was like, I will not do that in my business. I’m a forward thinker. I can see trends before they hit the top of the curve.”

For Melanie, being a successful early adopter means maintaining a human connection to the technology she chooses, staying in touch with customers and striving to build margins even in tough situations.  

“Our client specialists should be able to utilize AI to enhance the customer experience, but it’s not going to take less people.”

Automation and AI have a lot of potential in the retail space. Melanie has been exploring how Thread + Seed can take advantage of that potential to serve customers. But first and foremost, she’s focused on the human-AI connection. 

“There is an integration that needs to happen with technology and humans to keep that connection. And so to me, there has to be this marriage between the two.”

A retailer forging ahead with AI in the hopes of reducing workforce won’t see the full effects.

“You know, I get all the time from my employees, hey, are you going to replace us, are you working on this to minimize our staff? No,” says Melanie. AI is a tool, and it’s a tool retail workers need to know how to use—without it, employees are less effective and AI is less targeted. 

“I really believe in the personal touch with brick and mortar stores.”

There’s been one piece of advice retailers have been getting for years now: personalize, personalize, personalize. Customers want tailored experiences that make them feel like the retailer just gets them.

Staying ahead of the competition means listening to customers and responding to their needs—potentially even before customers conceptualize what exactly they want. 

For Melanie, that means bringing even more of a personal touch to the in-store experience. “My customers keep asking for it. We launched [one-on-one styling appointments] as a test. Now we have bookings every week,” says Melanie. 

The secret? It’s not just an appointment. It’s a tailored experience, driven by customer data, where Melanie’s team anticipates customer needs before they walk into the store. That means the client specialist and the customer can make the most of the appointment time. 

“We take it to another level and go through all of our shipments even before they get there. It’s not an experience where they’re just walking into the store and we’re shopping for them. We actually have it prepped and ready based on their body type, their color profiles and all of that.”

“There’s always going to be things that you need to power through. You need to know your numbers and find a solution.”

Staying one step ahead means innovating with new tools and anticipating customer needs. It also means knowing how to weather storms—and to be sure you’re always prepared for what might come your way.  

“Are you buying the brands that are letting you margin build, or are you buying your keystone brands where you can’t fudge on the prices? That’s not where you want to be right now,” says Melanie. 

The early adopter mindset helps you get out of the trap of relying on reactionary business decisions. Don’t treat the current economic moment, good or bad, as the end-all—good or bad, you need to find a way forward, says Melanie. If you’re prepared, there’s always something you can do. 

Have the right technology partner in your pocket

Being an early adopter is more than a strategy—it’s a mindset pivotal to business success. And it’s one that requires the right partners to make magic happen.

As an early adopter, Melanie seeks out companies that demonstrate the ability to evolve, facilitating easier integration with new technologies as her business grows. 

“I need to see that the company is progressive enough to be able to grow and keep growing,” she says. “So overall, I’m really happy with my experience with Lightspeed.”

Click here to learn how Thread + Seed is powered by Lightspeed.

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