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When considering the design of two new stores for her eponymous brand, in New York and San Francisco, Rebecca Minkoff thought carefully about her own shopping experience. One of the most annoying points, she noted, occurred in dressing rooms. Shoppers take a particular size or color or combination of clothing into the fitting room, then find that it isn’t quite right. Then they have a couple of options: They can get redressed in their own clothing, gather all their belongings, and venture back into the store to find the right size, color, or combination, or they can stick their heads out of the door and hope a salesclerk is nearby.

Article 3To avoid that irritating moment, the new stores rely heavily on in-store technology. To start, instead of wandering the racks, customers can visit a touch screen on the sales floor to browse the inventory and select items they want to try. A sales clerk gathers all the items, then texts the customer when the fitting room is ready. Then, in the fitting rooms themselves, another touch screen allows the shopper to request additional items or sizes or simply ask for assistance. Instead of wandering the store half dressed or worrying about leaving their purse unattended in the dressing room, they can simply summon a sales clerk to bring them the variants of clothing that they need.

Once they have made their selections, these shoppers also don’t have to seek out the checkout desk. Instead, the sales clerks, armed with mobile devices, can complete the transaction from anywhere in the store. Or if the shopper wants to think about the purchase a little more, the system can send the pertinent RFID information for the selected items to the customer’s phone, allowing him or her to purchase it online later.

The high-tech systems came about through a collaboration with eBay, which maintains a retail innovation branch, separate from its more famous online auction site. The retail innovation department developed the Rebecca Minkoff store technology expressly for the brand’s dedicated shoppers: mostly women in their 20s and 30s who are social media savvy and happy to spend around $325 for a designer handbag—and who hate the idea of running around a store in their socks to find the right size.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What new technology appears in the new Minkoff stores?
  2. Is this technology adaptable to other retail formats? If so, which ones?
  3. Would this technology improve your in-store experience?


Source: Elizabeth Holmes, The Wall Street Journal, November 12, 2014