Amazon Brings the Fitting Room to You

To date, Amazon has struggled to successfully break into the apparel industry. However, “Prime Wardrobe,” may be a major game changer for the company and its competitors as it brings the fitting room to you.

The service allows Amazon Prime members to load up a box with three or more apparel items from the website. They are then shipped to the customer who can try them on and keep the items for seven days. Whatever they decide to keep they will receive up to a 20 percent discount on. The items they don’t want can be placed back in the box and picked up from their location for free.

Retailers Feel Threatened—But Should They?

This latest service has put retailers (both online and in store) on notice. Industry experts have said that for traditional brick and mortar retailers, the only place they could truly differentiate themselves was in the fitting room. With consumers potentially no longer needing to go to the store, wait in line, and step into a fitting room, Prime Wardrobe could be a major threat to retailers.

However, despite being incredibly convenient, the service is not a complete replacement of a fitting room. Unlike other similar services like Stitch Fix, Amazon does not have a stylist available to curate clothes from its massive online selection, which can be difficult to navigate and make the apparel shopping process overwhelming for some. Many consumers also prefer to try items on in a well set-up fitting room which allows them to see themselves in a piece of clothing from multiple angles and in ideal lighting.

Additionally, while free two-day shipping is fast and convenient given traditional lead-times, it still won’t satisfy the occasional need to purchase something same day. While some consumers might plan out apparel shopping for future events, almost everyone is caught with the occasional “Oh shoot, I forgot, I need ____ for this weekend!” and the Prime Wardrobe service just can’t meet the timeline most of those situations operate on.

Create the Perfect Retail Experience Through the Fitting Room

Mirrors and lighting are only part of creating the best retail experience for customers. With solutions like Alert Tech’s platform, brick and mortar stores can transform their sales associates into knowledgeable personal stylists.fitting room

Improved customer service moves from the front of the store all the way back to the fitting room where customers can call an attendant without having to shout or wait. In-store alerts and occupancy sensors also provide retailers with in-depth insight about store patterns and trends so that they can further enhance the retail experience.

Finding a Place in Traditional Retail

Traditional retail is not dead, but thriving in this changing ecosystem means retailers must use digital, physical, and complimentary service offerings to differentiate themselves from the pack. This is especially true when it comes to the in-person customer service experience.

To learn more about how Alert Tech helps retailers improve the customer experience and increase sales, visit

A Fitting Room Solution That Works

Recently, when I was speaking with a retailer about our fitting room solution, they said something along the lines of, “That’s not really something our customer base needs.

In fact, their clientele is exactly the type of customer who would benefit from this type of solution. It seems to be a common misconception that only a certain demographic appreciates call buttons, so I’d like to set the record straight on why everyone benefits from fitting room call buttons.

Fitting Room Psychology

When trying clothes on, customers feel somewhat vulnerable because they find themselves at least half naked in a public place during the process (this is especially true for female shoppers). Most fitting rooms are also not pleasant, well-designed spaces. Further, without insight into fitting room occupancy, associates often knock during the process or, heaven forbid, enter during the middle of it! These factors combine to cause customers to want to move in and out of fitting rooms as quickly as possible.

The fitting room experience seems fairly straightforward: customers bring in their selections, try them on, and make a buying decision. However, this is not always the typical customer experience. For example, as a form of loss prevention, stores will often limit the number of items allowed in the fitting room at one time. This means that the customer will have to try on clothes in “batches”, which can significantly disrupt the process. This is not only hugely inconvenient but it prolongs the process, creating longer wait times and higher walk-off rates.

The Dreaded Re-Dresstry on

During the try-on process, customers routinely find themselves in need of assistance, often without an easy way to ask for it. When there isn’t a way to easily get an associate’s help, customers find themselves faced with the decision to re-dress and leave the fitting room to serve themselves. When a shopper decides that they will leave the fitting room to get alternate clothing, the process of trying on clothes becomes even more arduous.

It’s inconvenient at best to change out of what they were wearing into something else, but it can also be awkward. Thoughts like:

Should I leave my purse? Will it be safe?”

“Is it rude to leave and come back when there is a line of people waiting?”

“Will I lose my room if I step out?”

“What about the clothes I’ve already decided I want? Should I take them with me?”

“Is the door going to lock behind me? Will I have to track someone down again to let me in?”

“How much longer is this going to take, is it even worth it? Should I just leave?”

Much of the time, shoppers will decide that it’s not worth it and once they leave the fitting room, they’ll keep walking right out of the store. (It happens all the time – you can probably think about the last time you did this yourself.)

The Problem with Door Knocking


In order to prevent the customer from leaving the fitting room, many retailers encourage their sales associates to knock on the door and check on the customers intermittently. Unfortunately, door knocking as a fitting room service strategy is woefully ineffective because service is not being provided based off of the customers’ need-basis, but rather the associates’ best guessed timing. Caught in the middle of undressing many people will forgo asking for anything in order to avoid an awkward interaction.

An Effective Fitting Room Solution

The only way to ensure that customer assistance is available at the most effective time, is to implement a call button system that enables them to notify the associates when they are ready for help. This allows the service to be provided on the customers’ timing rather than the associates’. A customer who values their time is likely to appreciate a call button as it puts the power in their hands to reach out to an associate exactly when they want one. When assistance is needed, there are very few shoppers who won’t utilize a call button system.

Find out more about our fitting room call button solution here.


Heads Up on Your In-Store Mobile Retail App

There is plenty to think about while you’re planning your brands in-store mobile retail app. If you’re like most retailers you have leadership that is pushing an IT team to move quickly to keep up with the competition.

I’ll take it a step further and let you know that I have been at the table with more than 10 retailers, all of them have answered the “What is your in-store mobile strategy?” question with varying degrees of “We’re struggling with it and we know we’re behind the industry.”

The overall tone of most retailers on the topic of mobile retail app and tablet strategies is exasperation.

Good news: You’re probably exasperated because you think you’re behind the curve; but you’re not.

So we will break ranks with the dozen or so companies that are spending a lot of money to tell you you’re behind the times on all the bright and shiny objects to do what we do best – Take it step by step and keep it in focus. Or as we like to call it: Crawl, Walk, Run.Step by Step

Regardless of Use Location Keep the Mission Top of Mind

If the mission for your in-store mobile retail app is to sell more clothes, make sure that the devices speak to that in every way. Easy to hold, easy to put down. Not interfering with the person to person touch that is going on between associates and clients.

If the mission is to distribute and implement floor sets with mobile planograms, do the same kind of thinking about the way the device is going to be used in the store. I have seen these initiatives struggle for want of a good iPad case with a kickstand!

Tablet Care is a Mission All Its Own

They are going to need their batteries charged. They need to be wiped down.  Store them in the managers office or some other accountability point. Don’t use consumer products for these tasks.

Check out some of the awesome charging modules that are out there and make sure it’s capable of containing the mess that can accompany the devices in the busy and cramped back of store.

If You’re In-Store, You’re Head’s Up

If you’re the associate and you’re spending time looking at a device, there is a trade taking place. The trade is between time spent looking down and all that could be missed and what they are getting back from that screen. If the information is properly presented and very role specific, it shouldn’t take much of that head down time.

There is a tipping point, even if there is good info coming from the device, too much is too much. Don’t overthink it. If it feels wrong it is. In-store retail is about person to person interactions. If the device enhances that connection, you’re in great shape. If it diminishes it you need to rethink your strategy.

Associate Taps Count

As previously stated, there is a huge bonus for mobile retail apps that are role specific. This is going to allow your associates to “live” in the place that is most directly going to benefit them. As we created our Room Valet iOS app we made sure that the associate who was running the fitting room had what they needed in one screen. Changing screens isn’t a good game plan.

Who Goes Into the Managers Office?

The easy answer is your manager, but we’re going to hope that it’s for an ever-narrowing list of tasks. The manager is going to be the powerhouse when they can grab useful reports and YOY data on the fly and coach to the game that is unfolding in front of them.Analytics

Keep the useful information real-time and concise. Equip the manager with the proper tools for important insights so they can effectively manage their team. If it looks like it may have come off a fax machine, you’re doing it wrong.

Find Out More About Our Room Valet Fitting Room Solution and iOS app here.


What Shapes Customer Service Experience?

The answer is very simple: everything shapes the customer service experience! This includes not only traditional and “obvious” examples like a call center or email support, but also the in-store and online experience. It encompasses everything about a brand and its interactions.

Something as simple as an associates friendly disposition can drastically change the experience a customer has—and remembers. In fact, for a company to provide a great overall customer experience they will need to consider, and potentially improve upon, every aspect of the business the client can interact with.

Websites, phone services, personnel, social media presence, searches used to compare products – they all have an impact. In addition, there also passive ways that potential customers see the company and brand in question. These include billboards, headlines, and everything else a person would come across without actively looking for the brand.

Indirect Influences Effect Customer Service Experience

Notably, all consumers can be influenced directly— but things like customer referrals and word of mouth depend on unique experiences which the company cannot influence. For example, the customer’s mood or current well-being. Fortunately, there are many aspects that can be influenced, and they are often more complex than is first apparent.

The foundation of good customer service includes a positive attitude, good knowledge of the products and services offered, adaptability, work ethic, and an understanding of the target market. While those are a great start, there are many less obvious ways that the experience can be improved on. It starts with accessibility and location. This includes how easy it is to locate the shop, the ease of access, and proximity to their customer base.

Additonally, amenities like a water cooler, public access bathrooms, or retail call buttons in changing rooms are good ways to improve and go beyond what is expected. Companies must improve the least pleasant aspects of a shopping experience in order to reliably better their image and reputation.

This is true for both physical stores and websites. Customers may experience bad lighting or lack of mirrors in a store negatively. Online they may struggle with a complicated checkout process or a lack of product information. One of the best ways to improve the experience for clothing store customers is good fitting room management.

Optimizing the Fitting Room ExperienceCustomer Service Experience

Above all, a store’s most important tool in converting shoppers to customers is the fitting room. Improving the experience will boost sales outright. More assistants in the area to help, and clean fitting rooms are a good start, but they’re not all there is to it. The fitting rooms should be easy to locate, spacious, and ample in order to avoid long lines. Improvements made to the fitting rooms make a huge impact on the customer service experience, and in turn, store performance.

Making the Move to Mobile

Similar aspects can be used to make online shopping easier and more pleasant for a customer. A responsive website, easy to use virtual shopping cart, and speedy checkout process are vital for online sales.

Customer Service Experience

That first point is absolutely essential. Mobile e-commerce has risen by 40 percent between 2015 and 2017 as more customers use phones and tablets to buy online. Even for companies and brands that do not offer online shopping, their website is often the first point of contact between a potential customer and the brand. Clear designs, easy-to-read content, and an appealing presentation are necessary to appear trustworthy to a customer.

Consequently, in today’s fast-paced market, every point of contact between customers and a brand or company is important. Being good at only one or two will no longer cut it.

Millennial Women Tell Retailers How to Improve the Shopping Experience

The twenty-first century has had a significant impact on the way people shop, especially when it comes to clothing and accessories. This leaves retailers asking more questions about how they can improve the shopping experience, often without concrete answers.

At Alert Tech, we recently hired a retail technologist to answer many of the pressing questions retailers have. We conducted an informal survey involving Millennial women between the ages of nineteen and thirty-three, and what was uncovered about their shopping habits and retail preferences was quite surprising.

Most Women Go Online Before They Buy

Over 75 percent of the women surveyed stated that they go online and choose what they want to purchase before they go out, suggesting that most purchases are pre-meditated and not a spur of the moment decision.

All participants agreed that they went shopping with a specific product in mind. However, they also admitted that each trip typically ended with multiple purchases being made – the majority being goods and accessories that would complement their primary purchase.

Shopping Can Be a Frustrating, Time-Consuming Experience

All participants agreed that upon entering a store they begin to browse through the store’s offerings, hoping to stumble upon their pre-meditated purchase while moving through the racks and shelves.

Because the presentation of goods differ from store to store—some arranging items by color (which each of the twenty-two ladies agreed they hated), some by season, and some by designer—the participants said that they find themselves aimlessly wandering through a store feeling confused. They felt lost and frustrated.

Other retail issues voiced by the participants were:

  • They are unable to find the product they want. As a result they head to a competitor’s store to find an alternative product despite several other alternatives likely being available in the store they are in.
  • They are unable to find the product in the correct size. They then visit different stores in hopes of finding a product that will fit.
  • They find the right product and right size but they don’t like it. They give up on that store and head to another.

Approximately one-third of the participants said that they would consider continuing to browse through the products of the store, but their feelings of disappointment lessens their desire to buy. The remaining two-thirds stated they would go to another store and start the purchase process all over again.

Your Product Is Not Worth the Wait

Each woman agreed that after finding the right size she would head to the fitting room to try it on. Eighty percent of the time the participants said they would buy the product.

The issue the ladies had was having to wait to try it on. The participants all agreed that unless the product was for an important event (i.e. for a wedding or as a gift) they would not wait:

  1. For a fitting room
  2. In line to purchase the product

One solution may be to allow consumers to buy a product online and try it on at the store. Twenty of the twenty-two participants said that if they see a product they like online, they would head to the store, walk through the door, and try it on immediately—that is, if there wasn’t a wait for the fitting room. If it fit they would keep the item and if not, they would exchange it.

Here’s more good news for retailers: the participants said that if complementary products were also available to try on at the same time, there was a 90 percent chance that they would make more than one purchase and they would not head to a competitor’s shop. This can be even further enhanced if a retailer had the ability to check into the purchase history (i.e. style, color preference, size, etc.) of a shopper so that sales staff can make more intuitive product suggestions.

Personal Service Dramatically Increases Chance of Sale

Each survey participant had visited Victoria’s Secret at one point, though only eight had used the fitting room. These participants were particularly appreciative of the call buttons available in the fitting room to call an attendant when they needed a different size, color, or product (especially in this situation, where she would otherwise need to completely re-dress to find another garment). Each woman agreed that personal service significantly increased a retailer’s chance of making a sale.

Personal service can also eliminate the aimless wandering women find themselves doing when in a store. Customers are busy people. If you save them time by offering what they want when they want it, you are more likely to make a sale on either the original product or the complementary product(s) offered.

Understand Buyer Behavior with Alert Tech

Retailers can enhance their buyer’s experience from the beginning through to the end with Alert Tech’s innovative retail solutions. With over twenty-five years of experience in retail and actively present in over seven thousand stores, our platform has been proven to boost sales, improve the customer experience, and give retailers the insight they need to survive and thrive in today’s retail industry.

Four Things Retailers Can Do to “Keep up” with Changing Consumer Preferences

How people shop, research, and buy products is changing faster now than ever before. In order for retailers to survive and scale during these tumultuous times they need to revisit their overall strategy and see if it is aligning with the consumer preferences of the twenty-first century.

These are four things retailers can do to stay on top of things.

1. Act Fast and Act Early

The number one rule is not to let the brand get stale. The longer one waits to take action, the more costly it’s going to be to acquire leads and draw customers away from the competition. Instead, retailers should take the time now to make necessary decisions for the future and avoid the “slow no” at all costs. The key is to be proactive, not responsive.

2. Differentiate Your Brand

In the past retailers were able to differentiate themselves based on logistics such as the city or country they were located in. Now with almost every business

holding virtual real estate online, retailers have to think more about what makes them valuable and how they can fit into the lives of their customers.

Cost, convenience, and necessity are all factors customers will be taking into consideration before buying a product. Decision makers and stakeholders should ask themselves questions such as:

  • What makes my product unique, and why do my customers need it?
  • What are my shipping costs?
  • Do I deliver products straight to my customer’s door, and if not, can I?

3. Focus on Creating “Customers for Life”

Stores could initially lose money trying to capture customers through the use of promotions, discounts, and other resources, but if they put the focus on acquiring customers for life rather than snagging that one single transaction, it is a profitable investment that will pay off in the long run.

4. Deliver the Best Omnichannel Experience

How customers engage with the store must resonate with the overall brand. This means paying close attention to website and app design, reading and reacting to what people have to say about the brand on social media, and providing/evolving the right in-store and online experience. 

For example, International Property Group CBRE and Ipsos Mori surveyed more than 13,000 European consumers in 2016, and the results suggested that customers want greater integration between channels and increased use of technology in physical stores.

Learn More about Customer Preferences with Alert Tech

Alert Tech is a globally recognized fitting room solution leader that helps retailers meet the demands of the twenty-first century consumer. Our revolutionary platform gives retailers the insight they need to uncover exactly what happens from the time a customer enters a physical or virtual store to when he or she leaves so that they can deliver the ultimate brand experience.

To learn more, check out our unique solutions here.

How Retailers Are Answering the Age of Consumer-Driven Retail

The retail landscape today looks quite different than it did a decade ago. How customers are making purchasing decisions and buying items has changed significantly. Customers will often be physically present in a store, yet still consult their smartphone to complete the buying decision. They will read product reviews, compare pricing, take pictures, and sometimes even purchase the product itself.

Rather than struggling with this consumer behavior shift, successful retail companies are coming out on top by embracing technology and blurring the line between the online and in-store shopping experience.

Delivering a Seamless Customer Experience Throughout All Retail Channels

From discovery to being ready to buy, next generation shoppers want to be able to do it all with minimal effort.

Retailers are responding to this demand by investing business capital into syncing systems. Global inventory management, merchandising, and logistical data meets with online platforms to provide a true omnichannel experience. This gives customers the information they need to know at their fingertips, such as real-time item availability and shipping times. Multi-channel communication also means that a retailer can eliminate overselling by viewing unified sales and inventory information across all stores and retail channels.

Empowering Employees and Customers with Technology

As global trends have shown, the prevalence of smartphones in brick and mortar stores is only going to increase over the next several years. Forward focused retailers have accepted this fact and have shifted their focus to providing a more mobile-friendly customer journey. Some examples of this which can be found in several stores today include:

  • Customers can bypass the traditional time-consuming checkout process and by using optimized websites and native smartphone apps.
  • A growing number of retailers are integrating in-store pickup or BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) technologies.
  • Retailers are providing customers with “call” buttons which allow them to receive service-on-demand from a sales associate.

Today, customers have a higher expectation of sales associates than ever. This new engagement technology means that employees can quickly respond to the needs of a customer, help them find the most suitable product, and increase the likelihood of a customer walking away with a purchase.

Gaining Better Business Intelligence to Drive Sales and Loyalty

How customers research and buy items is becoming more technologically driven, but it still does not compare to being able to physically touch and try on items. This creates an opportunity for retailers to utilize technology in order to deliver the ultimate customer experience.

Retailers now have the resources available to keep up with consumer-driven retail. With access to these tools, they can deliver a better and more memorable customer experience while driving sales and profitability.

4 Reasons Brick-and-Mortar Continues to Win Over E-Commerce

Even in an age where technology rules, people prefer shopping in store. Long live Brick-And-Mortar.

Read more

Will Virtual Fitting Rooms Replace the In-Store Experience?

Online clothing sales in the United States is growing faster than any other product in the e-commerce segment. This is due to improvements in retailer return policies, and because of advancements in online merchandising and the technologies available to consumers. One example of this is many online retailers offering what are known as “virtual dressing rooms,” where consumers can use augmented or virtual reality to “try on” garments they are interested in. This has led some to believe that virtual dressing rooms may make the in-store experience obsolete – but is this really the case?

How a Virtual Fitting Room Works

Leading virtual dressing room technologies allow customers to plug in specific body metrics (height, weight, hip width, etc.) to create a “robotic mannequin” which resembles the shape of their body. Consumers can then select articles of clothing they would like to try on and have their simulated mannequin show how the garment contours to their body from different angles, they can make sizes larger or smaller, choose different colors (if available), add shoes, accessories, and more.

Why Virtual Fitting Rooms Are Not the Answer

While they are certainly impressive at first glance, there are a number of reasons why virtual dressing rooms simply cannot replace brick-and-mortar fitting rooms:

The Technology Is Unfamiliar

Consumers may be unsure how to use the virtual dressing room technology or they may feel uncomfortable with it. This can be off-putting, leading customers away from making a purchase they otherwise might have made.

Consumers Don’t Want to Bother

Unless a consumer can simply upload an image of him or herself to the virtual dressing room or use 3D-body scanning, it’s unlikely that he or she will want to bother taking several measurements to create his or her own virtual mannequin. Not only is it time consuming, but it may be stressful or upsetting.

Nothing Beats Being Able to Feel the Garment When On

Virtual reality technology cannot show exactly how well a garment will compliment the unique contours of one’s body. As advanced as this technology is today, nothing perfectly mimics the experience of trying on a top or a pair of jeans and seeing and feeling the garment on in person.

Reduce Returns by Providing the Perfect Fitting Room Experience

Reducing the number of returned items is one of the leading reasons why retailers choose to incorporate virtual dressing rooms into their sales and marketing strategy. However, while the virtual dressing room can potentially reduce the number of returns from online consumers, they must still pay for the shipping and handling of returned items, take care of credit card processing fees, pay the repackaging expenses, and deal with restocking fees.

When a consumer has the opportunity to physically try on a garment, he or she can see firsthand whether or not they like the fit of the item, the color, and the style. If they choose not to buy it, a shop associate can easily restock the item right then and there.

Instead of investing in a virtual dressing room, retailers should invest in technology which will help them discover how they can be providing the best fitting room experience in their shop. By understanding how they can create the optimal fitting room environment in their store, retailers can substantially increase sales, improve customer retention, and streamline the entire fitting room process.

Ways That Retailers Are Leaving Money on the Table

While retail has never been as competitive as it is today there have also never been so many opportunities to increase conversions, boost customer loyalty, and create a unique and pleasing in-store customer experience.

Before you seek out completely new avenues to help your business, take a look over your shoulder and consider existing factors that may be causing you to lose out on potential profit.

1. Poor Customer Service

Poor customer service is usually associated with lazy, apathetic, or downright rude sales associates. While there’s no doubt that these qualities represent poor customer service, it’s likely that there is more that you or your staff can be doing to deliver better customer service.

Train Associates to Read the Customer

Your associates do not need to know your customers personally in order to reach out and connect with them. A smile and a greeting can go a long way in creating a welcoming atmosphere, and asking customers what they are looking for and for what occasion can help the associate get a sense of who the customer is and how they can help them.

Imagine if your associates did “know” your customer. With advancements in today’s retail technology, your associate can learn a customer’s name, demographic information, and past purchase history so that he or she can make intuitive product suggestions that make sense for that unique individual.

Start Upselling and Cross-Selling

There are so many missed opportunities in retail because associates are not upselling or cross-selling. Associates can:

  • Suggest relevant products
  • Recommend accessories or complementary pieces
  • Share information about special offers
  • Compliment the customer on their item choice or fit

Communicate with Your Existing Customers

Customer retention strategies are critical in continuing sales and building your brand. Provide these customers with exclusive offers and send out personalized emails segmented based on previous purchases or demographic information so that your associates can make better recommendations.

2. Long Waits for Service

Recent TimeTrade surveys across various industries—including retail—revealed that the average person is not going to wait more than ten minutes for service. Anything longer than ten minutes translates into a poor customer experience and a loss of revenue for your brand.

Retailers often acknowledge that there are long wait times for change rooms or for customers to receive help from sales associates. The problem is that companies simply do not have the budget to afford having an extra person or two during a shift.

One way to improve wait times is to take advantage of what today’s retail technologies have to offer. By using the right technologies for your business, such as a queue management system or self-service tools, you can ease those lengthy customer wait times and improve your bottom line.

3. Failure to Efficiently Service Customers in Fitting Rooms

A customer who is already willing to try on a piece of clothing from your store is one who is fairly committed to buying something from your shop. The more customers you have entering your fitting rooms, the more likely you’ll have customers leaving the store with a purchase.

But the problem retailers face with regard to the fitting room is often twofold:

  1. Associates are usually not doing enough to make sure that the customer gets into a fitting room.
    Associates should be trained to start chatting with customers about trying clothing on in the fitting room as soon as possible while also encouraging customers to ask them for help. Once a customer is in a room, it’s important that the associate continues his or her relationship with the customer by finding them additionally requested sizes, colors, or styles.
  2. The fitting room is not suitable for your customer.
    The fitting room is where your customers are making most of their purchasing decisions. Because it is a small enclosed space and because the customer may be partially undressed, it is difficult for him or her to leave to find new products if the ones they came in to try on were not the right fit.

When properly designed, however, the fitting room itself can increase conversions and customer loyalty. Make it easy for customers and associates to contact one another through a “help” or “call” button so that both parties can check in and ask questions throughout the “trying on” process.

Make Data-Driven Decisions for Your Business

Uncovering opportunities to capitalize on what you already have is easier said than done. Without knowing where improvements can and should be made, you may be wasting your time and hard earned business capital.

A retail strategy should only be changed if you have the data to back those changes up. With the right metrics, you will know exactly why you are suffering from poor customer service, extended wait times, and sub-par conversions, and can truly do something about it.