Online retailers are a huge force in retail. Early doom-sayers predicted that online retailers would decimate brick-and-mortar stores. Brick-and-mortar clothing stores however hold one gimmick online retailers can’t. They offer a high sensory connection with the product.
Online virtual dressing rooms give customers a similar ability to visualize the product they might find in a store. So how can on-the-ground retail stores protect that key component of the shopping experience? Better in-store dressing room technology, like augmented reality or smartphone integration, enhances retail customer experience off the web and it could bolster sales.
In-store technology like smartphone integration makes customers’ lives easier. A&G Labs have developed a fitting room concept called MVSE which combines online and in store shopping, CassandraDaily.com reported. “MVSE brings some of young consumers’ favorite online shopping features— namely, reviews, recommendations, shopping history, social sharing, and discounts—into the dressing room,” the article said. Cassandra reported the system would include “a touchscreen in the fitting room, a smartphone in the hands of customers, and a tablet in the hands of sales clerk.” The system would “help retailers upsell existing customers and win over new ones through social sharing.”
Mobile is quickly becoming the most important reference tool for everything we do. A study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers found the average mobile user checks their phone nearly 150 times per day. That’s almost ten times every waking hour! In this day and age, if it’s not on my mobile, it doesn’t exist.
More interesting dressing room technology could simply make in-store retail shopping more fun. Retail stores that survive will be mainly about the experience of shopping, a Huffington Post article in 2014 said. Like many other companies, Ebay has purchased a startup designing holographic augmented reality software that “can be used in dressing rooms to instantly try on different colors of clothing or different styles… without physically trying them on,” the article says.
“Physical shopping will become a lot more fun because it’s going to have to be,” said retail expert Doug Stephens in the article.
Augmented reality tech could actually increase the conversion of prospective buyers into sales as well, Mashable recently suggested. In the article, Matt Szymczyk from AR dressing room company Zugara said that though brick-and-mortar AR is currently expensive, it’s an important link between the web and the world. “It provides a unique in-between phase for brick-and-mortar businesses,” Szymczyk said for the article.
The doom-sayers weren’t just off the mark, they were dead wrong. The internet won’t kill retail, but it will help it. Technology and the internet are simply being combined more and more with the in-store shopping experience to make it more fun, and more profitable.