Innovative Retail Technologies

JAN-FEB 2017

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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Jan-Feb 2017 24 engaged with the deployment, it will fail. The use case and the interface must be simple and clear, and it needs to be easily taught in a short period of time." It's also important, he says, to demonstrate to associates — especially those who are commissioned in high-end apparel envi- ronments — how customer-facing tech- nology will help them manage relation- ships and close more sales. MemoMi is branching out to eyewear and cosmetics, where smaller versions of its mirrors are enabling consumers to similarly save and share their looks. Those engagements are naturally even more hands-on for sales associates, and Vilcovsky says the value of the tool for relationship management is easily understood. For Cypher's part, he says associate enablement and efficiency are products of accurate and seamless data. " The ap- plication of RFID in this context is result- ing in a set of data that's never before been gathered in the history of retail," he explains. "We know what percentage of each SKU is going into the fitting room and how frequently. We can easily report on conversion rates and basket size and land on what's converting the most and the least. We can see the sales impact of certain nuances in colors, styles," he explains. Equally important to the associate, Oak Labs can report on fitting room service levels. " There's a very positive correlation between service levels and conversion, and fitting room service time is often two to four times longer than the merchant's perception." RFID enables the associate to scan an item and receive instant inventory position and location data, lending to an average service time improvement in pilot stores. Where it used to take more than six minutes for an associate to track down, retrieve, and de- liver a specific blouse, for instance, it now takes less than two. "If the store itself can monitor sales and SKU velocity, the impli- cations are profound," says Cypher. "Sys- tems can automatically optimize on-shelf availability by requesting updates to the front of the house from the stockroom, in turn optimizing stockroom availability by automating the purchase order process." Cypher's enthusiasm for a software- driven, seamless retail experience is tell- ing of his vision for Oak Labs. "We started in the fitting room, but we're building a connected store platform to allow for rapid development of experiences using software-driven touch, signage, and mobile technologies," he says. Breaking Down The Physical/Digital Barrier Vilcovsky and Cypher share a vision for retail experiences that are unencum- bered by the boundaries between physi- cal and digital experiences. The mirrors themselves bring decidedly e-commerce- like features, such as recommendations and social sharing, to the brick-and- mortar realm. " The purchase experience follows the consumer out of the store," says Vilcovsky. "When you visit another Neiman store in another city, or shop on its e-commerce site, you have this profile and preference data at your fingertips." Cypher says that when these profiles are shared with merchants, the so-called "web rooming" phenomenon — whereby shoppers research online and buy in stores — is far less vexing for merchants. "Cross-channel identification is really important. If you can give customers a reason to authenticate early on, there's an ability to connect all the dots. Pushing their fitting room experiences to their phones — like an abandoned cart for the physical world — just might be that compelling reason." Technologies like those created by MemoMi and Oak Labs aren't just flashy, they're functional tools in this omni-chan- nel retail environment. By providing shop- pers with the same look, feel, and service levels they get online, both consumers and merchants benefit from a seamless flow of information that aids and informs customers' next visit to your store. The role of the associates is critical on many levels. … if they 're not engaged with the deployment, it will fail. Salvador Nissi Vilcovsky, founder, MemoMi

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