Today’s customers want shopping experiences to be enjoyable, stress-free, and personalized. In the apparel sector, smart fitting rooms can play a large part in providing the level of service and satisfaction that they demand.
To be clear, we’re not talking about virtual fitting rooms or AR. We’re talking about enhancing physical fitting rooms in brick-and-mortar stores with technology that enables them to deliver a better experience to shoppers.
A basic smart fitting room consists of three core components:
- An RFID sensor
- An interactive screen, which can be controlled by touch and/or voice
- A staff notification system: this could be a screen at a service desk, SMS messaging, or an app on their phone or smartwatch
This powerful combination of technologies enables a smart fitting to offer a huge range of services to customers.
- As soon as they enter the fitting room, the RFID sensor knows what items they have selected and immediately displays them on-screen.
- The screen can show them all the available size and style options for each item, including whether they are currently available in-store.
- Customers can request to have a different size or style brought to them simply by tapping on or speaking to the screen. This sends a message to an appropriate staff member.
- The screen can also recommend related items. Customers can request to have those items brought to them as well.
- If an item they want isn’t in stock, the customer can select an online delivery or reserve it for trying on at another store.
- Customers can pay in the fitting room.
Here’s a quick demo of a smart fitting room in action.
Extending the smart fitting room
Smart fitting rooms can be enhanced even further with the addition of more features. For example, you could:
- Allow customers to change the ambient lighting so that they can see how the garments would look in different settings.
- Enable a video conference with a stylist who can make personal recommendations.
- Allow customers to see product reviews on-screen instead of having to use their mobile.
- Allow them to save items on their mobile so they can make a purchase decision later.
How this benefits customers
To understand why smart fitting rooms are so attractive to customers, let’s look at a typical fitting room experience: 70% of customers have to pay multiple visits to a fitting room whenever they try on clothes.
The customer browses the store, and selects a few items to try on. They go to a fitting room, where they discover that some items are great, but they need a different size, or they want a different color. Or perhaps they love one of the items they picked, but now they want something else to go with it. Many a long-suffering spouse is familiar with the plaintive call from behind the curtain: “Honey, can you go and get me the blue one?”
If the customer isn’t accompanied by a willing partner, they have to get dressed, gather their belongings, leave the fitting room, put the unwanted items on a rack, browse again, and repeat the process until they’re satisfied - and of course there’s no guarantee that the size or color they want is actually in stock. If the fitting rooms are full when they come back, they have to wait for someone else to finish. Finally, they have to wait in line to pay at a checkout.
That’s not a fun or stress-free shopping experience for anyone. For families with kids, it’s even more of a challenge. Customers get frustrated and leave, or buy items they didn’t want and thne have to return them.
A smart fitting room addresses all of these friction points.
It knows what items the customer has brought with them. If the customer wants to try a different color or size, they can immediately check availability from the screen and request that a different item be brought to them, without having to leave the fitting room. It’s the same with related items: the screen can recommend suitable clothing and accessories, and the customer can have those brought to them as well. If an item isn’t available in-store, that’s not a problem: the customer can choose to have it delivered to their home instead.
When they’re finished, they select the items they want to purchase and pay right there in the fitting room instead of going to a checkout.
In fact, a smart fitting room can go even further to enhance and personalize the omnichannel customer experience. By using a combination of e-commerce and appointment booking, customers can plan their trip in advance. They can pick out a selection of items online and reserve a fitting room. Staff can prepare their garments so that they’re ready for the customer’s arrival. Then, when the customer arrives, they check in, go straight to their fitting room, and can start trying on clothes right away.
How this benefits retailers
The bottom line is that smart fitting rooms increase revenue. According to RFID specialists Detego, basket size increases by as much as 100%. Customers are far more likely to purchase if they can find the size and color they want without leaving the fitting room, and they’re more likely to buy additional items recommended to them while they’re trying on clothes.
- 64% of shoppers want stores to recommend products to them. (Google)
- 86% of customers spend more than expected when given product advice. (BusinessWire)
- 49% of buyers make impulse purchases after receiving a personalized experience. (Segment)
When you make it easier for customers to find the items they’re looking for, they’re less likely to make a decision under stress and purchase an item they don’t really want. This reduces the likelihood of returns.
Smart fitting rooms give you valuable data, not just about what customers buy, but what they don’t buy. What are customers trying on but not buying? Which items weren’t bought as a first choice? Which combinations of items are most attractive? Which items are most likely to have sizing issues? This enables you to optimize inventory and product recommendations.
In short, a smart fitting room increases revenue, increases loyalty, increases customer satisfaction, while decreasing costs.