Anyone who has ever ventured into a store to buy clothes knows all too well the emotionally wrenching wasteland of the changing room. In many instances, these little spaces are sparse and sad, offering a mirror, a hook or two for clothes, and little else.
Even worse is the inexplicably bad lighting that delivers an unsettling experience, especially for customers who are sensitive to their perceived flaws. For some unfathomable reason, at the very moment that a clothing retailer has the chance to make its customers feel beautiful, it cheaps out.
This is something that bears repeating: a retailer has the chance to make its customers feel beautiful.
Making people feel beautiful – or feel something beautiful – is a vital component of in-store relationship retailing that cannot be duplicated on an online site. Jewelry stores do this well. Their lighting is specially designed to bring out the best sparkle in their products, creating real magic for customers, a “beauty moment.” Some retailers have picked up on this – Guess, for example – using softer tones in their lighting to enhance a customer’s look rather than assault it during that instant of self-doubt.
The beauty moment is a vital and unique element of in-person shopping, for example with technologies like the Memory Mirror, a dressing room experience offered by high-end retailers like Neiman-Marcus.
The Memory Mirror turns into a “virtual dressing room,” using video technology to take a 360-degree selfie of the customer. After the customer has registered an account with the store, and started down the road of sharing crucial data, the mirror displays different items virtually, with clarity and detail. The clothing and the customer’s selfie blend on the mirror’s surface for a unique virtual reality experience.
The Memory Mirror is quite an impressive device. It is highlighted in a recent Insight Report by L2, entitled Retail Innovations: Omnichannel. The report, published in February 2016, points out how bricks-and-mortar fashion retailers can use innovations to “redefine their physical footprint as a potential strength, rather than a weakness in the tug-of-war for shopper dollars.”
The interest here is not in the particular mirror technology, as cool as it is. People might take to it, or they might prefer to try clothes on the old fashioned way. What is important is the fact that the Memory Mirror helps rebuild the magic of in-person shopping. It delivers a new version of the beauty moment. It offers an experience that cannot be duplicated on a PC or smartphone. It’s a dividend of being there, in person, in the store.
Not every fashion retailer can afford to install a magic mirror, but they should not have to. What they need to see in that mirror is the importance of seizing upon every method possible to deliver a unique, positive personal experience for each shopper. They must help the customer justify the effort of traveling to the store. This is done by providing great selection and service, but it also happens by delivering that beauty moment – that moment of “self” that every customer deserves: a sort of spa day for the soul.
The magic of shopping in person is one in which the joy of shopping transcends everything else. Personalized customer data and attentive sales staff make the customer feel special and unique. Choosing and trying on clothing should support this positive experience by ensuring they continue to feel and appear beautiful – even more beautiful than normal, and this experience should be capped off by an effortless payment process – one-click, no distraction.
In-person shopping should be an experience worth paying for, in time, effort, and price. Hopefully, the items of clothing will deliver a degree of pleasure unto themselves, but over and above this, the experience of shopping will last in the customer’s memory and will become the primary reason to come back and shop in-person again.
This article is the first of a multi-part series focusing on retail innovations and omnichannel commerce solutions. To read the L2 Report, click here>>