Do Smart Fitting Rooms Really Work?

By Aila Staff

June 28, 2016

Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Topshop and Neiman Marcus, among other retailers, have now famously used smart fitting rooms to engage and encourage in-store shoppers with the interactive convenience of online shopping.

It’s an intelligent strategy. 70% of consumers prefer to purchase apparel in-store*, and consumers are willing to pay 50% more for items they can see, touch and try on*. Combine that with the 88% of shoppers who research purchases online before buying in-store*, and retailers are faced with a powerful argument for connecting their fitting rooms to that omnipresent tool shoppers are using anyway to research products.

Marge Laney’s (of Alert Tech) book, Fit Happens, summarizes it best, “Data is the link between the two types of fitting room technologies: tech that encourages the try-on and tech that supports the try-on process.*”

Here’s what we know:

According to DigitasLB, 62 percent of consumers purchase more items when they have a personalized shopping experience, and 84% have trouble getting help while in the fitting room*. That’s a disastrous combination of failed customer service that immediately translates to lost sales conversions. In fact, 97% of customers have re-dressed and left the store without shopping for that correct size or color they wanted*.

But smart fitting rooms address each pain point shoppers experience in the fitting room:

  1. They have instant access to stock information about correct sizes and colors.
  2. They can call for sales associate help with the tap of a screen, so they’re not stranded, almost-naked and alone, in a fitting room.
  3. They don’t have to re-dress, meaning they’re less likely to abandon their carts without purchasing.
  4. In fact, complementary item suggestions mean their cart is likely to grow.

While measurable data is still unavailable on the effectiveness of smart fitting rooms, 96% of shoppers themselves have said “access to service on demand” would improve the fitting room experience and persuade them to try on more things*.

Here’s what it means for your store:

Smart fitting rooms are the way forward for retailers, and the industry leaders are already building them. Odds are that shoppers are already researching product and inventory information in your fitting rooms on their own mobile devices, so closing the loop by providing a smart fitting room experience draws them back into connection with your brand and the clothes they want at hand.

Closing that engagement loop between online research and physical store is particularly important in the fitting room where the available data points towards a vast majority of consumers who want product knowledge and sales associates within instant reach. The smart fitting room provides exactly that.

It also means a deeper level of connection between brand and buyer. As illustrated by Fast Co., trends in the data gathered by smart fitting rooms can help brands understand their customers and reactions to products better, such as red flags about a potential sizing problem if many customers who tried on a small actually leave with a medium. Plus, information about the peak times of day for fitting room traffic can help with more effective staffing strategies.

* Laney, Marge. Fit Happens: Analog Buying in a Digital World. LegacyONE, 2014.

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