Fashion retailers haven't been shy about testing out new technologies as a way to make the process of clothes shopping less burdensome for consumers, but if the name of the game in the fight against eCommerce is to offer in-store experiences that can't be replicated online, then Oak Labs may have just delivered fashion a coup de grâce.
TechCrunch reported that Oak Labs, a startup that develops "smart fitting room mirrors," recently raised a total of $4.1 million in seed funding led by Wing Venture Capital. In addition to the funding, Oak Labs also finalized a deal to test out its finished smart mirrors in partnership with Ralph Lauren at the designer's flagship store on New York City's Fifth Avenue. Oak Labs CEO Healey Cypher explained that the company's mirror is a one-of-a-kind device that adds a complimentary experience to clothes shopping instead of another frivolous gadget.
"Tech companies, especially today, have a tendency to gravitate towards what is easy, which is why almost all consumers are in the ‘app fatigue’ zone,” Cypher told TechCrunch. “Building new form factors, in retail nonetheless, is very challenging. We are making modular hardware, software that’s living and breathing, and working in brick-and-mortar, which presents a new host of challenges — from associate adoption to infrastructural dependency.”
Oak Lab's mirror avoids old concepts of virtual reality-esque mirrors that show digital mockups of clothes on customers and instead employs a virtual assistant-like approach to the fitting room mirror. When shoppers enter the room with their items, embedded RFID tags link to the screen that displays the items, their sizes, colors, accessories and alternatives should customers get curious. Shoppers can also tap buttons on the mirror to request new sizes and versions of clothes, streamlining the fitting room process while reducing the burden on in-store employees at the same time.