March 20, 2013, 3:15 PM

‘Ritzy’ offers a sharper look at personalized e-retail

Eyewear seller Rivet & Sway gives shoppers individual style advice.

Lead Photo

'Ritzy' stands ready to help.

Meet Ritzy.

If you are a women interested in shopping the web for fashionable glasses, she wants to help you find the best frames to fit the shape of your face, match the color of your hair and reflect your sense of style.

You can find her on RivetandSway.com, which launched in September and sells nearly two dozen types of frames starting at $199. Really, you can find her there, after clicking the “personal stylist" link: She’s the woman wearing a red-and-white dress and dark frames, with brownish hair touching her shoulders. Her real name is Maritza Ryciak, but she’s long gone by “Ritzy.”

Before she helps you, though, you have to help her—no one promised that personalized e-commerce is without effort. Rivet & Sway ask shoppers interested in Ritzy’s advice to fill out a survey about style preferences—for instance, is your head shaped more like an oval or a rectangle, and does its breadth more closely resemble a tight “M” or a wide “W”?—and then upload a picture for Ritzy to consider.

In turn, Rivet & Sway says that Ritzy, who goes by the title "personal stylist" or just "stylist," will get back within 24 hours via e-mail or phone with ideas for three frames that she thinks will suit you well. The web-only retailer sends those candidates to your home, and you have three days to try them on—without the prescription lenses—and, probably, get your friends involved to see what works best. Unwanted frames are sent back at the e-retailer’s expense. If you want to buy a pair, you indicate your selection on the e-commerce site and send Rivet & Sway a copy of your lens prescription. 

Ritzy—let’s just call her Ryciak at this point—says most requests for style advice come in via e-mail, but that she’s eager for more contact over the phone or Skype. Rivet & Sway, citing competitive worries, declines to say how many shoppers employ Ryciak, but did say that the women who do use the personal stylist service are 30% more likely to buy than shoppers who go it alone.

Ryciak, who describes herself as a “one-woman show” for now—“I think that will change soon,” she says—bases her advice on her career as an editor and writer covering lifestyle and fashion topics, and her experience as a “proud glasses wearer.” Her work includes a senior editor position for Gaiam Inc., the health-and-wellness products retailer that is No. 312 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. She says she worked there between September 2007 and March 2009.

Ryciak says the need for such personal advice is clear for eyewear. “It’s the ultimate accessory, but it’s also a medical device,” she says. “With a lot of people, we are not necessarily in touch with our features. To get that personal advice, it can be very empowering.”

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