I had the great chance to chat with the associate e-commerce manager Nargiza Dakmak from the tech-forward fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff. She also studied at LIM College and graduated with her MBA in Fashion Management. Fascinated by the fashion industry, she started her internship at Rebecca Minkoff – and stayed. I talked with her about their advanced mirror technology in stores and how she sees retail in the future.
What was the main Idea behind your Mirror Technology? How was the Development Process like?
When you want to open a Flagship store, your main goal is to provide a different experience for your brand. Nowadays everything is exchangeable, so you want to distinguish yourself from the competition. We wanted to create a seamless experience. We now shop both online and offline and with the mirrors we saw a way to make this happen.
eBay had a similar technology at that time, that was why we partnered with them for the mirrors. If you do not want to interact with sales associates, they are the perfect technology for you! That’s my favorite part: Not having to interact with salespeople that want to sell you stuff. And you can even change the lighting settings in the dressing room. In general, you will have a more personal experience in the store, because you can always order different sizes and pieces from within your dressing room. You decide what you want, not the personnel in the store.
And this was just the beginning. We then wanted to connect the mirrors to an app, so we developed that one, too. The basic idea was to connect your profile with your order history and shopping preferences to the mirrors in our stores, so we know what you like and can give you recommendations. Also, if the app realizes you are near a store, we could send you push notifications for coupons and percents off our clothes so you come in and buy. We want to complete the whole experience to shop with our brand. We go little by little, step by step. The ideas are there, and Rebecca tries out everything!
Now we have even self-checkout stations. If you don’t want to interact with a sales associate, you can just go and scan and buy it yourself. Since the sensors in the dressing rooms can recognize all items in the room, it goes hand in hand with that technology. Millenials are totally into technology! They feel more comfortable by not interacting with people anymore, but they love to use technology to have the same experience.
How did the Mirror Technology drive Traffic?
A lot of people came into the store. The mirrors generated a lot of buzz. I would not say it drove a lot of sales, but people came to look and the awareness was there. People are interested but this not necessarily means that they are also buying.
Our online business is still growing and it is really successful. Online was not a huge lift in sales the time the mirrors came out, but we see 30% in growth from year to year, which is a lot. Our in-store customers are a little bit different than our online customers. The ones that come in the store are often tourists that buy spontaneously. The online customer already knows about the brand and she knows what she wants. She wants our exact style.
What are your Plans to further develop that Technology in Future?
First, we have to stabilize it. We have some flaws and sometimes it stops working. These are just little things that need to be done and we have to work further on that seamless experience. We are planning to add apps to connect the mirrors with your phone and then add some other services little by little to the whole experience. Right now we have to make our homework and take a step back to work on the product first, so it is working. We have to build a strong base on that we can build on. Especially with millennials, they want these cool experiences, but if the base is not working we can not build on that. And we also want to integrate our rewards program!
Rebecca is very innovative in trying new technology and trying to implement as much as possible. This is totally in our DNA of the brand. She is tech-forward!
How do you see the Future of Retail?
I think the future of retail will not be very unusual. What turns you off in a store? Waiting! Waiting for a certain size, waiting in the line. Self-checkouts or fitting apps would be great to simplify the process and to save time in a store. Retail is definitely going into a very hard period right now. There are so many stores closing and laying off people.
We try to find our ways at Rebecca Minkoff and one of them is to have a more direct dialogue with our customers. It is all about providing a more personal experience. People want something tailored for themselves, personalized, engraved with their initials and so on. The whole industry is heading towards a more personalized service experience.
That is where retail is going to. I don’t know how it will change exactly, but in our case we try to have more dialogues, more social connection to really see how our e-commerce behaves, to analyze customer behavior on our sites.
I don’t know how big department stores are doing that and how they solve it. They have so many brand identities in one place and also different customers.
It is fascinating to see how Rebecca Minkoff is constantly adding more technical features to their shopping experience. Chatting with Nargiza was a great pleasure. Besides having a great time, I gained great insights in the rapidly changing fashion industry.
How much technology are you using when you go shopping? Do you shop more online or offline? I would love to hear from you.