Have you ever been in a fitting room, half naked with the wrong size and no sales associate in sight? Or wished that someone would bring you a cup of water or coffee while you shop? Rebecca Minkoff’s Soho store has partnered with eBay to address some of the inconveniences consumers face during the in-store shopping experience. Each store features a large screen where shoppers can browse merchandise and request items to try on. In addition, fitting rooms are equipped with touchscreen mirrors allowing customers to do everything from adjust lighting to request a different size. Once a consumer has decided to make a purchase, sales associates use iPads for checkout anywhere in the store. Rebecca Minkoff has managed to address a fundamental issue in e-commerce called the funnel formula. The number of consumer at the top will almost always be significantly less than those at the bottom who make a purchase. By implementing interactive technology in store, the brand has managed to enhance the customer experience at critical moments when the consumer might otherwise leave without making a purchase.
This technoloy also helps the brands to capture valuable data with regard to consumer behavior and inventory. All of the merchandise is tagged with RFID chips that can track when a consumer tries on clothing and that give insight into real time inventory. One of the biggest challenges facing retailers these days is figuring out how to present the omnichannel consumer with a seamless experience. Using in-store technology allows the brand to use the data in making precise decisions around marketing and inventory management that contribute to enhancing that experience.
While Rebecca Minkoff’s strategy was quite innovative, I wondered if the model would work practically. During peak shopping seasons do the screens create a bottleneck? How much time would sales associates spend teaching consumers how to use the technology and would consumers embrace it? I’m intrigued by how Rebecca Minkoff has chosen to implement technology in her stores and wonder if others should be following suit. Is this in fact the future of consumer retail?