As online retailers continue to grow, brick and mortar clothing stores have been struggling to find ways to remain competitive against juggernauts like Amazon and eBay. The larger online retailers have access to seemingly limitless inventories of styles and colors that customers can browse at the click of a button, and don’t have to worry about costs such as staffing and theft. So how are top tier retail clothing stores supposed to entice shoppers to visit their stores and get the sales they need to stay in business?
The newest advance set to help reframe the retail experience is called the smart mirror.
While there are several competing models being tested across the country, a standard smart mirror functions as a combination of a mirror and video camera. The smart mirror will snap a video of a customer in an outfit and then display it as they try on different combinations letting them quickly compare looks. This lets customers decide which outfit they like best, and some smart mirrors can even let customers see how they would look in a different outfit without ever undressing.
Using Smart Mirrors to Take Back a Chunk of Online Shopping Business
Storefront retailers have a reason to look for new incentives to bring in customers. Online shopping has been cutting into sales for brick and mortar retailers for well over a decade, offering a streamlined experience that many customers seem to prefer.
As storefront retailers have adjusted to lowered sales by reducing staff or closing stores, many customers have developed negative associations with visiting retail stores due to a lack of customer service and long wait times. Retailers hope to win some of these customers back with smart mirror technology.
Smart Mirrors – Providing a Best of Both Worlds ExperienceAdvertisement
So how will smart mirrors win back customers for brick and mortar clothing retailers? One of the most important, and controversial, aspect of smart mirrors is that they gather information about a customer’s tastes and purchase history. Using this data, they can then make personalized suggestions on what might go well with an outfit and provide other in-stock suggestions in-line with each customer's preferences.
The ability to record an image or video of what a customer looks like in one outfit and display how it compares to another gives customers a superior fitting room experience that can’t be replicated online. Smart mirrors that are capable of producing an image of what a customer might look like in an alternative outfit without them trying it on replicates the online shopping experience of providing suggestions but with a highly personalized twist. Now customers can quickly see various combinations and find the outfit that they will want to purchase in far less time.
Fitting Rooms are a Key Way for Retailers to Make Sales
In retail clothing sales, getting a customer into a fitting room is an important part of making sales. Statistics show that while retail stores only make sales to about 36 percent of the shoppers who browse their stores, 76 percent of customers who try something on in a dressing room will end up purchasing something. However, the perception of fitting rooms as understaffed and not always in good order means that only about 28 percent of shoppers end up going in one.Advertisement
Retailers are hoping that by adding this new feature and all of the advantages it can afford their customers they can bring consumers back to the fitting room. Smart mirrors have been installed in various locations around the United States, such as Nordstrom’s in Seattle and Neiman Marcus’ in San Francisco, Dallas, and Walnut Creek.
Ultimately, it remains to be seen how well smart cameras will affect storefront clothing retailer’s bottom line. However, for a business that has been losing ground to their new competitors for years, smart mirrors offer exciting possibilities.
Marge Laney is the Co-Founder and CEO of Alert Tech, expert advisor of the Brain Trust for RetailWire.com, and author of Fit Happens: Analog Buying in a Digital World. Marge is recognized as the retail industry's leading authority on apparel fitting rooms.
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