While retailers are working to change up their eCommerce sites and shift their storefronts to keep consumers interested in stepping foot through their doors, there’s one area of retail that’s being influenced by technology that’s not quite as obvious when consumers step foot into the stores.
The dressing rooms.
But as most retailers know — especially when it comes to clothing purchases — that’s where most consumers are going to make their final decision. And without a sales associate always around to influence the decision, who are the shoppers turning to? If the digital transformations that are being developed by retailers and designers take shape, it’s going to be interactive technologies leading the way as the next big thing in retail disruption.
Whether it be shoppable windows, or technology that helps consumers visualize the same outfit in a different color, digital fitting rooms have the potential to change the retail experience in ways never thought of before. As highlighted in a video on The Wall Street Journal, retailers like Neiman Marcus are doing this with a memory mirror that shows two images — one of the shopper from their first glance that sticks on one side, while the other mirror allows that shopper to compare the outfit from other angles.
Or, there’s Rebecca Minkoff — the luxury handbags, accessories, shoes and apparel retailer — which has added text messaging features and screen mirrors in stores to give consumers that one-on-one attention from store associates. The retailer’s technology also allows customers to view outfits and see what other options could pair best with their picks.
“What we’re finding is that 75 percent of customers want to see Rebecca’s style — her looks that she’s put together — as well as her recommendations,” said Uri Minkoff, Rebecca Minkoff’s CEO.
And that’s a better way to get shoppers to buy more.
At Bloomingdale’s, the retailer has its own take on how to better engage with customers.
“The customer can select a certain size and color and the data is connected to our item availability system so the associate will know the item is available in the store and they know to look for it to bring it back to the room,” said Anne Bridges, Senior Vice President at Bloomingdale’s.
As the WSJ video points out, smart mirrors can help engage customers, but they can also be used as a valuable tool to better understand what customers are interested in. They can show what items customers tried on, versus which were actually bought. That technology can be used by the retailers to alter their design plans and keep on top of which merchandise to order. It can also help track fashion trends.
But as retailers look to add smart technology into their dressing rooms, Nuala O’Connor, President of the Center for Democracy and Technology, said it’s important to keep in mind that consumers always need to be aware of what the retailer is tracking and how.
“As long as the customers know and are given the right to choose what is collected, or what their interactive experience is, that probably makes sense to most people,” she said. “But our concern is clandestine or surreptitious collection of data.”