Bricks-and-mortar retailers have an interesting problem: the fitting room. Anyone who has ever taken an armload of items into a changing room — only to find themselves half-dressed, without the right size and without a sales associate around to help — can probably relate.
Matthew Cyr can. “I walk by the fitting rooms and I see a mound of clothes behind the attendant.” The go-backs often have the associate fully occupied and, “They’re not paying attention to the shoppers in the fitting rooms,” Cyr says.
Not only does it leave customers with a sour in-store experience, it also leaves the brand in the dark about a critical stop in the path to purchase. “Retailers have no ideas what items were tried on and left behind,” he says, “and without knowing anything about what’s happening in the fitting room, they don’t know how to make the experience better.”
As the CEO of technology platform Crave Retail, Cyr wanted to shine a light on what happens in the middle of the store. From a merchandising standpoint, it would be useful to know which items are going into and out of the fitting rooms, but he also saw an opportunity to focus associates’ attention on helping shoppers.
“What labor hours are allocated to meet those customers’ needs during their try-on journey?” Cyr says.
Retailers know what the challenges are, but, “There were no viable solutions in the market that were scalable and meaningful to that customer experience.” Crave aims to change that.
“It’s about how to enhance the fitting room experience plus get data around the customer journey to figure out how to optimize it and drive more revenue,” Cyr says. Crave offers technology to address the needs of customers, sales associates and retailers, each in their own way.
A device mounted in the fitting room (within an enclosure that blocks the camera and other ports to ensure security and privacy) gives shoppers quick access to help. Using screen prompts, customers can request an item in a different size or color without leaving the dressing area. They can also view product information, see low stock warnings and receive outfit recommendations to help complete their look.
“We bring the online experience into the fitting room,” Cyr says. The customer receives the assistance they need and the brand gains additional opportunities to upsell and cross-sell.
A mobile component gives sales staff a way to be available to customers in the fitting rooms without being intrusive. “We can help associates be more informed about who’s in the store with what products, and then they can serve them on an on-demand basis,” Cyr says.
Lean staffing and omnichannel strategies such as buy online, pick up in store increasingly pull staff away from sales floor activities. “Those types of things create more operational work and that often happens in the back stockroom,” Cyr says. With Crave, associates know what’s happening in the fitting room area even if they aren’t nearby.
The main Crave dashboard links with other components in the store and can display a variety of data points and activities so brands can determine the best way to improve conversions and maximize employee productivity.
“They can understand who’s going into the fitting rooms, when activity is the highest, which associates are helping shoppers, how often they’re helping shoppers and how quickly,” Cyr says. By evaluating employee performance, training programs can be tweaked to ensure customers receive the right kind of help when they need it.
Cyr’s team knows the process of trying on clothes frequently doesn’t start in the store. “It starts on your phone, wherever you are,” he says. “As a company dedicated to the entire try-on journey, we’ll be creating ways for shoppers to reserve items to be prepared for their arrival at the store, to find products in the store and to easily get into the fitting room with our solution.”
Julie Knudson is a freelance business writer who focuses on retail, hospitality and technology.