Fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff and eBay are attempting to bridge the gap between e-commerce and the offline world by outfitting Minkoff’s flagship New York City store with touchscreen technology.
The new store, powered by eBay, is equipped with touchscreens designed to reduce friction in every stage of the shopping experience, from finding merchandise to paying for it.
When customers walk in the door, they’re greeted by a smart wall that turns from a floor-length mirror to an interactive display screen with a touch, offering drinks, a digital showcase of Minkoff’s latest collection, and fitting rooms. Text messages alert customers when fitting rooms are available. Once in the fitting room, radio frequency identification (RFID) enabled clothing tags and touchscreen mirrors recognize the items customers have brought in, and a sidebar in the corner of the mirror offers additional sizes and merchandise suggestions. Sales associates carry iPads that alert them when customers need assistance. And when customers are ready to check out, they simply do so with PayPal on their mobile devices. Sales associates have purchases wrapped up and ready to go as soon as the customer steps out of the fitting room.
The shopping experience at the Rebecca Minkoff flagship is meant to mimic online shopping for consumers who have come to expect seamless transactions, says Healey Cypher, head of retail innovation for eBay. “Mobile has fundamentally changed our expectations,” Cypher says. “The store takes mobile analytics into the real world.”
Designer Rebecca Minkoff says that the idea for a connected physical shopping experience came from a close study of customers’ online interactions versus those in physical retail stores.
“Tablets and phones brought online convenience into the real world,” Minkoff said in a prepared statement. “We’re now pushing the envelope even further by taking RFID technology and incorporating into the brick-and-mortar retail experience. Every woman hates walking out of a dressing room half naked in search of a sales associate for another size or style, which is why I’m so excited about the magic mirrors in our dressing rooms. My customers will be able to virtually connect with their stylist through the mirror’s touchscreen technology for anything they need, whether it’s another size or a glass of champagne.”
Cypher says that the new technology will also cut down on “lost data” since the RIFD clothing tags in the new Minkoff store keep a record of every item a customer tries on, which can then be saved in the mobile app and consulted for future purchases.
However, according to Cypher, the aim of the new technology-enabled stores is not to make sales associates obsolete, but rather to elevate the shopping experience beyond what both online and physical stores currently offer.
“It’s not about dehumanizing,” Cypher says, “It’s about rehumanizing to create a faster, easier, more delightful, and more elegant experience.”