If you've ever traipsed around the high street struggling to find the right clothes size, help may soon be at hand, thanks to a revolution in changing room technology.
Accenture and Avanade, in association with Microsoft, unveiled their vision of the next generation of clothes shopping with their 'Connected Fitting Room', which features integrated features which the companies hope will make the shopping experience easier and more enjoyable, and bring customers back to the high street.
The technology is based around RFID tags embedded into an item's tag, which transfers information to an embedded reader in the changing room wall, which is then brought up on a touchscreen display for the shopper to interact with.
Using this screen, shoppers can view different coloured versions of the item, as well as requesting different sizes or colours of the particular item if their choice doesn't fit. The shopper will also be able to check if these alternatives are in stock as the service is linked to the store's inventory.
If they do need other items, the shopper can "request" this by touching a matching option. This will then send an alert directly to employees in the store, who have a companion app installed on their company or personal device. The employee can then fetch the item from the shop floor to deliver to the changing rooms, with information fed to them on where the item is and how long the customer has been waiting.
The service also offers a choice of items which could go alongside the original scanned item, such as some jeans to go along with a t-shirt. These recommendations are gathered from wider purchase trends detected by the retailer, backed up by Accenture's own data analytics solution.
"We wanted to bring the best of in-store and online shopping into a single experience," Brendan Mislin, global capability lead at Accenture, said of the new technology, highlighting that modern-day shoppers often combine online browsing with the opportunity to physically interact with items in-store.
"There's something really nice about actually seeing and feeling the product."
Users can also use their personal store accounts to log in directly from the touchscreen, which can then offer recommendations based on a user's past purchases, bring up personalised vouchers, or let them create a 'wish list' for future purchases.
This function could also allow the possibility of paying for items with your mobile device or existing store credit in the future, although this would depend on the retailer, along with the option to have items sent to their home if not in stock at the time.
All the data gathered from the service can also be accessed by the company, which can see details such as how many items each shopper brings in to the changing room, how many items they send back, or what items are making the most 'wish lists', allowing them to tweak their stock and store layout according to customer preferences.
"I think there's huge potential here," said Danielle Lara, retail lead of business development at Avanade, adding that the technology could be expanded to other markets asides from clothing, with electronics and homeware of particular interest as the companies talk to UK retailers.
Already in place in branches of US department store Kohl's, the futuristic experience should soon be coming to the UK, with Accenture saying it is in talks with a number of retailers in this country.
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