Visit any Retail Tech show and you will see various booths showcasing magic mirror, smart shelves and impressive digital signage concepts. However, visit the High Street and you can see the suppliers of 42 and 50 inch flat screens have done very well, as walls of screens greet customers. These screens do not feature interactive content or services but simply serve to replace physical signage, convey a brand or sales message. A widely adopted, in-store, digital experience is not easy to find.
Consumers expect to be served with relevant content on their devices and shown comparisons, reviews and linked items while online shopping. Why hasn’t this technology made it into the stores? What affect would this technology have as a USP on a brand and the bottom line?
For twenty-five years we have been providing retailers with retail IT systems and understand the challenges that digital present. The issues around master data integrity, images, branch communications and identifying a service for the consumer that they would find valuable, easy to use and fun can not be a ‘one trick pony’. This solution would need to complement the value of the brand and be a competitive differentiator.
We looked at all the touch points of the customer journey and assessed what impact a digital service would have on an enterprise. This was not about creating bespoke vanity projects for flagship stores as it is not where our passions lie. We build solutions that offer a real return on investment.
We identified the fitting room as the ‘ugly child’ of the retail store. Tucked away in hidden and hard to find areas of the store, it’s not often appealing for the consumer. We were surprised to discover that in some verticals up to 70% of buying decisions are made in this sometimes forgotten retail real estate. We found that the service levels in the fitting room varied widely between retailer and even within the branch depending on traffic, shift and staff member. Throughout our research, we discovered that although perhaps the best opportunity for upsell and displaying great service to the customer, a lot of retail staff see the fitting room as a function to be fulfilled rather than an opportunity to boost sales and customer satisfaction levels.
Men more likely to abandon the sale
We identified that walkouts and non-merchandising of items left in the rooms were a real loss in terms of monetary value. Men in particular, would abandon rooms instead of requesting different sizes. Women would often only visit a store in pairs one to try the other to fetch different sizes as they did not trust the service level of the store to provide this service for them. We found that vanity precluded the majority of men and women from exiting the fitting rooms in a state of undress to request a size. A lack of convenience precluded them from getting fully dressed to exit the fitting room to request a size, only to have to return to the fitting room and wait for the garment to be delivered.
In the 25 years of business, we know that most retailers are aware of these issues, but relatively few had calculated the resulting monetary loss from these missed opportunities.
Some retailers that had conducted manual studies, calculating a 10-14% uplift in sales was achievable through an affective “Assisted Selling Program”. We found that the C suite were very slow in giving budgetary approval for store systems that were not commonplace in their competitive space.
We identified that although the more professional retailers had staff handbooks and established training processes to deal with all the above, there was no system, no reliable KPI’s that would allow them make intelligent decisions at a merchandising, SKU, staff and store level for delivering the experience the handbooks promised. Some retailers we spoke to had put together senior thought teams on this problem and what they required was an ‘Intelligent Fitting Room Service’.
This service would address all of the above issues, it would differentiate their offering, increase their customer satisfaction levels, closing rate and average transaction size.
Considerations for the Intelligent Fitting Room Service
The service had to be inexpensive, circa $999 per fitting room, for all hardware and low monthly service fees for all software. The software had to be centrally cloud-based and scalable, on a globally recognised database structure as any truly Enterprise level product should be. It should also incorporate offline redundancy in a case of comms failure. Most importantly, it had to be easy to use and show high customer adoption to achieve the so-called ‘sticky-apps’ phenomenon. Mobility is key and this must be achieved through iOS or Android for the sales assistants.
The team at TRC Solutions started with a whiteboard and distilled twenty-five years of retail experience into the brainstorming sessions. We talked and collaborated with some of the best global IT providers, consultants and retailers, drawing up a feature list. It needed to encompass all the functionality previously mentioned while satisfying PCI and data protection compliance regulations. The solution also needed to impress database and IT managers, operations and store managers while delivering a documented return on investment to the C suite.
After a vast amount of research, testing and implementation, we proudly launched the ‘Intelligent Fitting Room’. Architecturally, we designed a conduit for real-time relationships between the consumer and retail outlet. It is a conduit measurable by a vast number of data points and KPIs.
Our ‘Intelligent Fitting Room’ is developed in-house at TRC Solutions. It is database agnostic but natively sits on Cloud-based SAP Database Technology. There are no expensive database or application licenses to purchase and the service is delivered through a SAAS model. This innovative concept utilises the existing RFID investment, to provide in-depth and relevant information across the enterprise to your customers, sales assistants and store management.
Delivering a more personalised, efficient shopping experience for your customers, this technology increases repeat visits and sales because customer experience, delivery and efficiency of the store is increased and the shopper is encouraged to shop the range.
Utilising existing CRM data and the ability to pull various outfits from across the range together, making it easier to put a digital look book together. This is presented to the customer in the fitting room while trying on or waiting for a requested item to be brought to them. Accompanying items can be shipped centrally and paid for in store. Coupons can be sent in real-time and personalised incentives displayed.
Consumers are increasingly driving more visual search results and this can be continued in store with this system. According to Google, Americans spent nearly twice as much time watching fashion and apparel shopping videos in September 2014 vs. September 2015. The ‘Intelligent Fitting Room’ displays garments on screen, thereby providing a visual for the consumer.
How Does it Work?
When a customer enters a fitting room, the system automatically detects the RFID tagged garments the customer has brought with them. The garments and options are displayed on the screen in the fitting room and the customer is given the option to select an alternative size, colour and alerted to any relevant discounts. This system also displays additional items that the customer may be interested such as accessories.
Once selected by the customer on the screen, it sends an immediate update to the shop assistant on their mobile device who can find the garments and deliver them directly to the customer for a more seamless experience.
The Benefits for the Customer
- A personalised experience
- Faster service
- Visibility of the full range
- More information at the tip of their fingers
The Benefits to the Retailer
- Meaningful customer engagement
- Boosted sales
- Cross selling opportunities
- Ability to manage staff more effectively
If you have RFID technology enabled in store and want to utilise it to increase sales and boost customer engagement, you can speak to a member of our team. Simply click here to complete the form.