NRF: Technologies promise to reshape fitting rooms

Discussion
Source: StoreAdvise
Jan 18, 2019

Using everything from artificial intelligence to RFID tags and augmented reality, retailers and their tech partners are introducing out a bunch of solutions to reinvent the fitting room experience.

At the NRF Big Show, American Eagle unveiled fitting room technology that has been rolled out inside its flagships. Shoppers scan items on an iOS-based device to see and request other available sizes and styles, receive product recommendations, view running cart totals and e-mail information to themselves or potential gift givers — all without leaving the fitting room. Store associates receive notifications and deliver any other items the shopper wants to try on.

Adore Me, the online lingerie brand that is opening its first stores, is taking advantage of RFID for its first fitting rooms.

Shoppers inside Adore Me’s rooms interact with associates in real time to request other options using a smart display. RFID sensors recognize the items without the need for scanning. Having RFID tags also sheds light on which SKUs were tried on and purchased. The data informs which sizes or styles can be reduced or eliminated.

Last July, Alibaba piloted its first “FashionAI” concept store that featured smart mirrors cued by RFID to show product information on apparel that shoppers picked up. Customers then headed to the dressing room and associates brought the selected items they wanted to try on.

Further, online fitting technologies are finding their ways to stores.

For instance, some online sites enable shoppers to create a personalized 3D avatar of themselves by either entering their body measurement or taking a full body scan. They can then use the avatar to assure fit and to see how clothes look on them. With mobile devices, the shopper can in some cases bring the avatar with them to a physical store. By scanning a barcode of an item, shoppers can use the avatar to try on clothes on their mobile devices.

Another new similar solution enables shoppers to stand in front of a mirror and have their body size measured. They then use hand gestures to flip through a digital catalog to virtually see how numerous apparel items might look on them.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see one tech solution stepping up to solve the pain points involved in the fitting room experience? Will solutions such as personal avatars promising to support the online fit process likely find their way into physical stores?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I sure hope that retailers get excited about testing and learning with some of these emerging tools, as the dressing room and finding fit is THE friction point for apparel."
"Great tool, but only if you accept that you have a 38 inch waist instead of the 32 you imagine you have."
"...so many fitting room negative experiences have simple solutions, like keeping them clean, maintaining inventory, maintaining safety, and having knowledgeable sales staff."

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10 Comments on "NRF: Technologies promise to reshape fitting rooms"


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Bob Amster
BrainTrust

RFID is – in my mind – the unquestionable most critical technology to not only smoothing the fitting-room experience, but to enhancing it and making it more productive. The mere idea that a customer would wait a lot less time for another color or size of a desired item, increases the probability that the experience will convert into a sale. The online avatar technology – though viable – may need more time and refining before avatars will be accurate enough to ensure the proper fit.

Laura Davis-Taylor
BrainTrust
Laura Davis-Taylor
Founder, Branded Ground
3 years 10 months ago

I sure hope that retailers get excited about testing and learning with some of these emerging tools, as the dressing room and finding fit is THE friction point for apparel — followed by getting good associate support. The careful dance is to figure out how to execute them in a manner that works for everyone and delivers on brand expectations.

I personally feel luxury requires a heavier human touch with these tools making things simpler. Example: use the mirror to help you find what to try on, tap a button in the dressing room when you need help and a live person comes to graciously inquire what item you need and bring it back with a smile. In a more mainstream setting (like Macy’s) where associate support is light, going full-steam with this kind of automation and digital support makes sense.

In the meantime, I’m headed to make my avatar! 🙂

Art Suriano
Guest
Many of these concepts are excellent; however, the first issue I see is if there aren’t associates available to assist customers now, how long will the customer be waiting in the dressing room for an associate to bring them a product? So many new services offered by technology are excellent in theory, but it will be up to the public to see what sticks and what doesn’t. There was a company a few years back called “Meality” that had secured significant dollars from investors and had scanners set up in malls. Customers would walk up to their kiosk and step inside the scanner. There was no charge for the customer. Then they would receive a print out telling them where they could find the best fitting jeans in the mall. Retailers participated, and it had every indication of being a win. The problem: customers were too self-conscious having to walk inside a scanner, and after getting up to about 40 malls, the company went out of business. So we’ll have to wait and see what… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Every technology has its pitfalls and, when it comes to dressing rooms, those are, more often than not, human. Take the online/now offline measuring tools that allow you to create an avatar — or at least make sure your jeans actually fit. Great tool, but only if you accept that you have a 38 inch waist instead of the 32 you imagine you have. Or the RFID product selector. Again, great tool as long as there are enough associates to hustle stock from the showroom to the fitting room. Ditto with the mirrors which give you a 360 degree view of yourself, but don’t eliminate personal insecurities. So from a technology point of view the answer may be: all of the above. Now, if we we could just re-engineer the human ego and improve self-perception.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

Where to begin? Personal privacy in a fitting room with mirrors measuring a body in the process of dressing? Creepy factor. Avatars built upon measuring a body to match inventory with the same measurements is an extremely linear solution. Having little to do with how an individual likes their clothes to fit, look and FEEL on their body. Ever wonder why someone’s clothes are too tight or too loose? Fit preferences. Size is not fit. Measurements are not fit. Fit is personal. Fit is a complex multi-dimensional set of individual sensory-preferences, magnified by dozens of product attributes like fabric, fiber, stretch, woven, etc.

What does make sense? The ability to contact and interact with a sales associate while half-dressed in a dimly lit cubicle, staring into the full-body reflection of one’s self.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

First: nothing says more about the state of retail than the fact that this topic is being touted as new. Prada was the first store to introduce the early versions of these concepts–that was in 2001 and vendors were developing systems before that. So decision makers at these brands that think they are offering a “new experience” are deluding themselves.

However, technologies have advanced and there is more that can be done for shoppers in the dressing room than the early days, but it’s only as valuable as getting past technology for technology’s sake or technology that the brand thinks is viable because it’s cool and (wink) new. If the experience and supporting technologies add real value for the consumer while respecting their intelligence and privacy, it’s worth exploring. That said, so many fitting room negative experiences have simple solutions, like keeping them clean, maintaining inventory, maintaining safety, and having knowledgeable sales staff on-hand.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Ken,

And, the notion of using technology to achieve the perfect fit goes back several decades to how the Air Force custom fit flight suits for pilots.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

I’m excited about the possibilities that technology will bring to the fitting room. Trying on different colored sweaters, jackets, etc. Without having to actually try them on. Put one on, look in the “mirror” and watch how technology can change the color. That’s just one example of what’s coming down the road. At first it will seem clever, cool, different and interesting. Eventually, it will become the norm. It will take a while, as in several years (at least), but what we’re experiencing now is a conversion to using technology as part of the shopping experience like we’ve never seen.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest

Fitting room tech has been piloted for some twenty years, at least, starting with a major manufacturer’s retail stores in San Francisco in the late ’90s. I think there is a role for this, especially to cross-sell/upsell. Once a merchant hits the most intuitive, compelling app, then widespread adoption will take place.

Scott Norris
Guest

I crave the ability to “save” product dimensions & fabric specifications when I find a pair of pants that fit just right — then tell the store/website to only show me SKUs which match. Trial and error in the dressing room to get to that point is understandable, but once it’s reached, I don’t want to have to go through it again!

Of course it would force manufacturers to standardize their databases to give accurate, repeatable results. Then we could do away with the whole frustrating charade of sizes not matching across brands or even from one production lot to another for the same brand, same item!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I sure hope that retailers get excited about testing and learning with some of these emerging tools, as the dressing room and finding fit is THE friction point for apparel."
"Great tool, but only if you accept that you have a 38 inch waist instead of the 32 you imagine you have."
"...so many fitting room negative experiences have simple solutions, like keeping them clean, maintaining inventory, maintaining safety, and having knowledgeable sales staff."

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