Nordstrom tests smart fitting rooms

Discussion
Dec 02, 2014

Using software from eBay, Nordstrom is testing interactive "smart mirrors" in fitting rooms that provide shoppers with access to in-store inventory information, product recommendations and other data typical of web shopping.

The mirrors are being tested this December in its Seattle Southcenter Valley Fair and San Jose locations.

Shoppers enter the dressing room with items found on the selling floor and see what appears to be an ordinary full-length mirror. Picking up a barcode scanner and scanning the items activates the mirror for touch-screen and interactive display. Much like web browsing, the shopper can see different sizes, colors and styles available in the location related to their items. They may also see complementary items suggested by Nordstrom’s stylists, such as shoes or a handbag to match a dress. Product reviews are also viewable.

Shoppers can then request that staff members bring a desired item. Clerks get an alert on their tablet that a shopper wants help and their return messages appear in the shopper’s mirror.

"The way customers shop for clothes has evolved," Jamie Nordstrom, Nordstrom’s head of stores and former leader of its Nordstrom Direct digital business, told Fortune. "How do we take all the information that’s available to customers while they’re sitting on the couch at home browsing and add that to the dressing rooms, so it’s the best of both worlds?"

Steve Yankovich, VP of innovation and new ventures at eBay, told Internet Retailer that it’s possible to use an RFID reader to collect the product information automatically as the customer enters the dressing room, skipping the bar code scanner. The system could also connect to a retailer’s customer relationship management database so suggestions become personalized for each shopper based on previous purchases and other information. Mr. Yankovich said, "The software can be dynamically changed based on what works."

Nordstrom’s test will explore how shoppers and associates are interacting with the mirror before determining what other functions to add, such as sharing online.

Rebecca Minkoff and Kate Spade have also recently worked with eBay’s software to implement touchscreen-based shopping assistants in their boutiques.

[Image: Connected Store]

In Rebecca Minkoff’s New York City flagship, shoppers have options to add items they have tried on to their personal profiles to receive curated suggestions from stylists based on their picks. They also can send any item directly to checkout and receive a digital receipt. A separate massive digital touchscreen wall on the selling floor enables shoppers to see Rebecca Minkoff’s recent runway shows and to request one-one-one fitting room sessions or drinks.

Bloomingdale’s recently equipped with its fitting rooms with wall-mounted iPads to achieve some of the same tasks.

What is your assessment of Nordstrom’s smart fitting room technology? Do you see digital applications and touchscreen technologies transforming retail dressing rooms in the future?

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9 Comments on "Nordstrom tests smart fitting rooms"

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Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Testing is fine, but I think Nordstrom is fundamentally joining the parade when they used to be the parade leader. As I wrote recently in a blog post, I have found their service levels lacking as they have ramped up mobile and some of these other efforts. We need heroes like Nordstrom to act like Nordstrom.

Marge Laney
BrainTrust
2 years 7 months ago
Shopping may be digital, but the decision to buy is still an analog process requiring the customer to try-on before saying, “Yes, I’m going to buy this garment.” Customers won’t decide to buy until they have tried on an article of clothing, either at home or in the store’s fitting room. To be successful and profitable, apparel retailers need to value their fitting rooms and establish a service strategy that moves customers into the fitting room and exceeds their expectations while there. There is a strong movement to emulate the online experience in the offline store. Social media, marketing apps and other web experiences are being integrated into the fitting room in the hope of engaging the customer and keeping her inside the fitting room and the store longer. Caution should be used, however, when introducing Internet solutions into the individual fitting room environment. Customers come to the store to try on clothes and engage with the brand personally. In many cases they have researched online and are now in the store to try-on and purchase, not stand in the fitting room to surf the retailer’s website. Alternatively, carefully-edited “look book” experiences that assist up-sell and cross-sell strategies can increase… Read more »
Debbie Hauss
BrainTrust

There’s a lot of potential for smart fitting rooms, for both large and small format retailers. Rebecca Minkoff is a great example of using the smart fitting room plus a number of other digital technologies to make the entire shopping experience interactive.

It’s about using digital and interactive technologies to make the shopping experience more personalized, convenient and stress free. Rebecca Minkoff has eliminated the permanent point-of-sale station and is encouraging shoppers to finalize their purchases in the dressing room area.

Although not realistic for every retailer today, these types of technologies should not be discarded. They’re making inroads and retailers that plan to be around for the long term should seriously consider what’s next.

Herb Sorensen
BrainTrust

It isn’t just for fitting rooms. This is just one application in the convergence of online, mobile and brick-and-mortar (COMB) retailing. Soon enough you will see it in the aisles of stores—and not just as kiosks, on-cart or smartphones.

Matt Schmitt
BrainTrust

I think digital can provide for better shopping experiences, particularly when it is inspirational and gives the shopper ideas and nudges them to consider styles and options they may not know about or didn’t think of.

One thing I’m curious about is what is eBay’s strategy here? How are retailers thinking of them, and does eBay have a strong value proposition moving away from their core business and being a practical partner for retailers to partner with against Amazon?

Christina Ellwood
Guest
Christina Ellwood
2 years 7 months ago

Great enhancement to the in-store shopping experience. The ability to request a different size, color or accessory; create a collection and request assistance address real needs and issues for shoppers.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

This fitting room technology is definitely a direction that things are moving towards and overall a great thing. The PR around this has been truly effective. However, those of us deeply involved in interactive retail technology for the last 10 years or so will recognize that all of these features have been done already in some form or other. Going back to the days before smart phones, multi-touch screens, and ubiquitous WiFi, a similar mirror concept was done by Prada circa 2002, including RFID tags. Hointer has mastered bringing product to the consumer/check-out on demand. Digital receipts… well lots of places, even boring old ATMs.

While these installations are contemporary and executed nicely and given that similar installations in other retail shops might be a huge leap forward for those brands, lets not buy into the agency hype too much and believe that this is some retail quantum leap. This is a very logical progression of existing technologies that anyone can easily replicate. Let’s retire the phrase “future of retail” already and be more careful what we attribute the words “innovation” and “transformation” to, so that they retain meaning as retailers incrementally move the bar forward.

Karen S. Herman
BrainTrust

Great to see Nordstrom exploring smart fittings rooms. I like the fact the company will track how customers interact with these smart mirrors before loading them with too much technology and overwhelming the shopper. Also, testing this concept in Seattle and San Jose should give a good indication of how technologically savvy shoppers are, and moreover, choose to be, in their fitting room.

I see a potential conflict here between the efficacy of technology and good old retail therapy, that need to go shopping to relieve some stress, boost up your mood, treat yourself to a special experience or just have some private time.

A Nordstrom fitting room app with most of the features mentioned, that a shopper could download on their smartphone or iPad and use at stores nationwide, seems like a safer investment.

Larry Negrich
BrainTrust

Melding the advantages of online and offline into an improved shopping experience will benefit Nordstrom and its customers. This technology should not be seen as replacing the high level of customer service but adding to it. Whether or not it will prove to be profitable enough for Nordstrom to make a large financial commitment and roll out nationally is to be seen. That’s really where these helpful technologies hit the wall. Many are cool, helpful and have potential to increase baskets—let’s see if this solution fulfills its potential.

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