Nordstrom, Inc. (JWN) testing eBay Inc (EBAY) Smart Fitting Rooms
Technology of all kinds is changing the shopping experience for consumers, with online marketplaces and a variety of methods for payment. A new technology has been developed for the “bricks” portion of the “bricks and clicks” retailers to help facilitate purchases in physical store locations. eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) has developed an in-store, full-length mirror with touch-screen display that allows customers to search the inventory of other sizes and other colors of products, as well as additional accessories for outfits, all from the convenience of the fitting room. Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE:JWM) will be testing the technology in two of its stores, one in Seattle, and another in San Jose.
The new technology will hope to prevent that uncomfortable problem of being half-dressed and needing to don clothing again to find another size or color. The mirrors will provide touch-screen ability to check inventory for the needed item, as well as to notify sales associates that the item should be brought to the fitting room. Associates can also suggest other items to go with the outfit. In addition, the screens will allow consumers to see product reviews; just as, they do online, to facilitate purchase decisions. These features will add more convenience to the in-store shopping experience and are likely to increase sales, in the process.
Ebay recently built touch-screen displays for in-store use for designer Rebecca Minkoff’s two boutiques. Previously, Ebay also built an interactive storefront system for four Kate Spade stores in Manhattan. Adapting the technology for Nordstrom is much more complicated, given the much larger inventory at the retailer. The device will help to duplicate the familiar experience of purchasing online, providing immediate information about other purchasing options and the ability to summon sales-associate assistance with the touch of a button.
Nordstrom’s Leadership in Technology
Nordstrom’s announcement of this innovative technology is not a surprise in to many retail analysts. The company is known for being in the forefront of new technology for retailing. Between now and 2018, the company intends to spend $1.2 billion on e-commerce, fulfillment centers and in-store enhancements for consumers. Nordstrom hopes to increase sales, which have been stagnant, quarter after quarter in recent years. With the recovering economy and in-store enticements, it hopes to boost revenues significantly in the coming years.
Ebay has also created a display screen mall directory system for Simon Property Group. These technologies are paving the way for Ebay to establish itself as more than just an online retailer and auction site. The company is preparing itself to spin off its lucrative PayPal business in 2015, and, with the new interactive screen device, may have found the perfect way to incorporate its technological expertise into the broader retail sector.
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