Commerce Trends

by Manhattan Associates

Let’s Get Virtual

There has been quite a lot of talk around Virtual Changing Rooms in the last few months. But have you ever used one? Are they really the next best thing?

Our SVP EMEA Henri thinks that Virtual Changing Rooms should not only allow customers to fully immerse themselves in an experience historically exclusive to inside a retailer’s physical store, but they should also be fully integrated within the retailer’s broader omni-channel service and fulfilment capability. With the majority of retailers still grappling with the logistics of how to integrate the online and in-store experience, there is a risk that – without proper investment in integrated back-end systems – the technology could miss the mark and end up having a detrimental effect on the customer experience. Which in turn could well have a negative impact on customer loyalty and sales.

 

With the right supporting systems underpinning the Virtual Fitting Room, the retailer has at its disposal a unique service capability not available for brick-and-mortar stores. Consumers are able to literally walk through a virtual store from the comfort of their own living room if they wish, with the store’s layout, inventory and fulfilment options fully customised to meet the needs and preferences of each individual customer. With access to purchase history, wish lists, shopping baskets, preferred fulfilment options, and importantly a real-time picture of available inventory from across their entire network, retailers can tailor the customer’s shopping experience at the same time as maximising the likelihood of converting a sale and utilising the engagement to cross-sell and up-sell.

 

And with algorithm-driven technology that automatically calculates the cost of fulfilling an order with inventory from different network sources and via multiple potential delivery services, the retailer can serve up a range of fulfilment options that ensures a profit is made on every sale/fulfilment transaction however the customer wants to take delivery of their goods and irrespective of whether those goods are returned.

 

I think we can all agree that Virtual Changing Rooms can undoubtedly play a key role in bringing the online and offline world together. And they are capable of being much more than just a ‘smart’ mirror. With the right, supporting, back-end technology infrastructure, they have the power to become an integral part of the shopping experience and streamline the whole customer journey. As with any technology, it needs to add value and provide what the consumer wants, at the same time as serving as a driver for improving loyalty, sales and profitability.

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