Retail may be a difficult landscape to navigate right now, but some traditional stores are giving e-commerce the cold shoulder with new digital allies.
Many apparel companies are turning to retail technology companies like Oak Labs, Supply.AI and One Door, to help them act on consumers’ demand for elevated brick-and-mortar experiences. From interactive fitting rooms to return analytics, retailers are getting as tapped in as they can.
Trying on clothes is no longer a dreaded adventure in stores.
Oak Labs, a San Francisco-based retail technology company, is arming retailers with its virtual fitting room concept.
Dubbed the Oak Mirror, this technology is an interactive mirror that enables consumers to personalize their fitting room, digitally ask store associates for help and browse product recommendations with a touch-screen feature.
“There are two buckets of in-store technology—explicit pieces of technology, which is an extension of your mobile experience and kind of inherently viral, and the other bucket, which we call implicit technology, is all about bringing AI into the store,” Oak Labs CEO and founder Healey Cypher said. “The implicit bucket of technology is an important part of the future of retail.”
RFID technology is the powerhouse behind the Oak Mirror. Using this intelligent hardware, the mirror takes note of apparel items as they enter a fitting room. The Oak Mirror then syncs up with the retailer’s inventory system and with a few finger swipes, provides consumers with customized suggestions and allows them to do things like change lighting and language, request colors and sizes, ask for store associate assistance and request to check out.
Returns can be a frustrating experience for consumers, but Supply.AI is helping retailers minimize this issue with an advanced solution.
As the world’s first AI-powered returns prevention platform, Supply.AI helps retailers reduce returns with in-depth consumer behavior data.
“Our proposition is fundamentally looking at the problem of returns from the opposite side of the spectrum and saying, ‘If I know what you are likely to buy, can I predict what you are likely to return?’ What we have done for the retailer is keep that revenue,” Supply.AI CEO and founder Karthik Sridhar said.
According to Supply.AI, it could cost retailers almost $28 for every returned item, which results in billions of dollars lost annually due to consumers not finding the right item or fit. Using the platform, called ReturnSense, retailers can determine pre-existing causes for why a consumer might return an item.
Taking place post-purchase, ReturnSense evaluates more than 200 signals to determine whether a consumer is likely to return their item. The platform’s autonomous prevention agents collects the data without disrupting the consumer experience, so retailers can predict consumer behavior in the long run.
One in-store concept often overlooked when it comes to boosting sales and maintaining foot traffic is merchandising execution. One Door is helping retailers step up their brick-and-mortar offerings with its application, Merchandising Cloud.
As an application that integrates store information, promotional visual merchandising and in-store product data, Merchandising Cloud allows retailers to build an efficient merchandising plan.
“Brick-and-mortar retail stores need to use visual tools to do the best they can to make the most of what they offer,” One Door CEO E.Y. Snowden said. “There are two key benefits that the application enables—one is the ability for retailers to be more agile and the second is to free up associates so they can deliver a better customer experience.”
Features of Merchandising Cloud include the ability to upload store data and maintain accurate floorplan information, define new store attributes to improve localization, generate accurate counts for fulfillment teams, import and create new SKUs and target real-time messages and announcements in-store.
Snowden also said Merchandising Cloud works well for physical retailers that incorporate the buy online, pick-up in store model. Unlike most supply-chain centric merchandising processes, One Door’s approach enables store associates to take part in merchandising by being able to rapidly identify SKUs and locate items for a seamless customer experience.
“Figuring out how to apply digital technology and capabilities properly in that environment, is what enables retailers that have physical stores to be successful and compete effectively against the online only challenge they are faced with,” Snowden said. “The overall canopy is that retailers are getting more serious about how they can adopt digital technology to apply to a physical store environment, so the experience is better for everybody.”