Undiscriminating flattery may suit some. Not all. Whereas many retailers are introducing technology to women's changing rooms so customers can instantly get reactions from trusted friends, British plus-size clothing retailer Yours (yoursclothing.co.uk) has taken things a step further.
Yours' latest unique selling proposition is talking mirrors. As the Daily Telegraph reports, "each cubicle is programmed with a number of generic compliments which can be fired at shoppers as they try out the merchandise."
"Wow, you look amazing!" is among the recorded compliments spoken in a female voice, the Telegraph reported. Shoppers can reportedly choose whether to play the messages.
Journalist Claire Cohen agrees that trying on can be trying — in every sense — but considers the robotic voice "insulting and patronizing," wondering whether they're "trying to empower their customers, or console them?"
A spokesperson for Yours told the Telegraph, "We feel all women, no matter their size, should feel amazing and have a great experience when shopping with us."
Just a few months ago, Karl Lagerfeld's marginally more interactive alternative using built-in iPads were installed in the company's flagship store in London. The devices enable customers to share selfies with real live people via the internet. Both retailers' spokespeople insist they are trying to "engage" with customers, although Lagerfeld's chief executive admitted that it's more about the brand than the experience.
Last year, Bloomingdale's introduced augmented reality into its changing rooms. The technology gives customers a 3-D view of virtual clothes. Customers merely wave their hand in front of a screen before sharing via the internet, according to Internet Retailer. Accessories can be added at will for variety. Look, in this case, may trump feel albeit offering greater choice and computerized recommendations without the hassle of dressing and undressing. The technology also stores information that can later be used for targeted ads.
Another reason cited for using the technology includes discouraging people from buying more than they intend to keep, just so they can try things on and decide at home — possibly improving the situation for retailers overwhelmed by returns.
How effective do you think automated comments in changing rooms will be in making customers feel good about themselves and, in turn, increasing sales?