Bloomingdales Makes Fitting Rooms Smarter

December 19, 2014

Fitting rooms provide brick and mortar clothing retailers with one of their few advantages over online outlets. After all, consumers are more likely to purchase an item that they have actually tried own versus something they’ve only seen on a screen. But that doesn’t necessarily mean people will buy everything they bring with them into the changing room. In fact, many consumers will simply give up on an item if it doesn’t fit them immediately.

In order to reverse these lost sales, the upscale retailer Bloomingdales is attempting to outfit the changing room for the 21st century. The Macy’s-owned chain has placed iPads in the fitting rooms at five of its 37 locations, hoping that people will use the devices to supplement their shopping experience. If something doesn’t fit, customers can scan the bar code on the item to see if the store has a different size in stock. The gadget also provides recommendations for similar items as well as consumer ratings and reviews. With the click of a button, customers can even summon an associate for help.

On Bloomingdales’ end, setting up this system of “smart” fitting rooms is as easy as mounting an iPad to a wall. For consumers, though, this strategy could remove one of shopping’s most unpleasant experiences. “You’ve got a customer sitting half-naked in the fitting room and wanting to try a different size,” said Macy’s chief omni channel officer R.B. Harrison. “This is technology for a common problem customers have.” Smart fitting rooms are just one component of Macy’s overall effort to integrate analog and digital shopping experiences together. The strategy appears to be paying off, with Macy’s outpacing its competitors in terms of using unsold inventory to fill online orders. If iPad-equipped fitting rooms prove to be a hit at Bloomingdales, the company could soon roll the idea out at department stores across the nation.

 

Questions:

  1. What advantage do “smart” fitting rooms offer Macy’s and its customers?
  1. Is integrating technology and service the key to brick & mortar stores survival?

 

Source: Phil Wahba, “Fit for the Future,” Fortune, October 9, 2014. Photo by: Cavale Doom.

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