Digital marketing: Ralph Lauren and his “smart mirrors”

Now, all luxury groups have taken the turn of digital marketing. Initiated in 2006 at Burberry with Angela Ahrendts, other big houses have followed suit and are not lacking in creativity. The latest example, Ralph Lauren has introduced “smart mirrors” in its changing rooms in New York. But what are the real motivations and the first results of these strategies?

Interactivity to boost sales

When she arrived at the head of Burberry in 2006, Angela Ahrendts made digital marketing one of her priorities: creating a Facebook page and using social networks, equipping iPad assistants to track inventory and product histories. ‘customer purchases, launch of the “The Art of the Trench” site where everyone can post a photo with a Burberry trench coat around the world and present their way of wearing and personalizing it: colors, buttons, buckles, lining … And possibility of viewing the result on iPad. If other luxury players followed, it is because the results were there. In an article titled “Why is Burberry’s digital strategy so good? “, the specialist writer Robin Swire indicates that in 2014, Burberry, thanks to its digital marketing strategy, posted a growth of its turnover of more than 14% higher than that of its competitors in the same sector.

In September 2015, LVMH hired a digital director for the group: Ian Rogers, former Apple showing how important rethinking the strategy at the global level is.

At Ralph Lauren, Stefan Larrson, the new CEO of the group since the end of September 2015, also seems to be moving towards very innovative digital marketing. Its goal: to revitalize the brand and once again attract customers to the store by creating a whole new customer experience.

The “smart mirrors” of the Polo store

Since November 2015, the iconic Polo store fitting rooms of the 5 th Avenue in Manhattan (New York), are equipped with “smart mirror” thanks to the technological platform proposed by Oak Labs . And according to the Ralph Lauren group, the results are conclusive since the engagement rate (“which measures the propensity of consumers to interact with the brand on social networks”) is 90%, which is higher than expected. . Additionally, “interactive dressing rooms help customers connect emotionally and digitally with the brand” and “technology and human touch are also important at Polo”.

Oak Labs dressing rooms use RFID ( Radio Frequency Identification ) technology to identify the items that the potential customer has brought into the dressing room. RFID technology is already present in many stores, it makes it possible to identify an object, follow its path and know its characteristics remotely thanks to a label emitting radio waves, attached or incorporated into the object. .

When the items are tried on by the customer in the cabin, the garment immediately appears on the mirror and a simple press on the glass allows the other sizes and colors available in store to be indicated for each item. Oak Labs mirrors also allow you to make suggestions (thanks to stylist robots) to other items in the store that could match the chosen room.

For example, if a client tries on a jacket, blouse or pants that matches the jacket may be suggested. All the technology that exists online is brought here in the store. The customer no longer has to leave his dressing room, he just has to touch the button: “call an associate” which signals directly to a salesman, via his iPad, to come to the dressing room and ‘bring other sizes or items.

In order to make the customer experience even more pleasant, it is possible to make lighting choices when the customer enters the dressing room in order to simulate different times of the day: full light for the big day, light reduced for the evening or even club atmosphere. Finally, Oak Labs even offers the possibility, in addition to English, to change the language: Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Italian.

Integrating in-store technology, a new lever for growth

In a study carried out by Contact Lab and Exane BNP Paribas on 61 luxury stores visited in New York, Ralph Lauren appears to be the most successful firm in incorporating technology into its stores followed by Bergdorf Goodman and Burberry. It is the only brand that has set up connected and “smart” fitting rooms. According to Healey Cypher, CEO of Oak Labs,

A former executive at eBay, he worked in their innovation laboratory for the distribution activity and in particular on this connected fitting room project before co-founding his company Oak Labs. Uri Minkoff, CEO of the Rebecca Minkoff brand, which opened its first 2,000 m2 store in Soho in November 2014, considers that these connected fitting rooms have tripled the expected level of sales in less than a year. clothing.

The offer that Healey Cypher has developed consists of offering a technology that can be adapted to any store wishing to strengthen the brand’s experience through digital. Beyond that, he considers that there is a misunderstanding consisting in believing that the data collected by the transactions carried out online are more easily exploitable than those collected at the points of sale. According to him, “when we directly collect data on the physical place, the impact is significant.”

For example, thanks to Oak Labs mirrors, stores can know directly, the conversion rate for each item, the time spent in the dressing rooms and the conversion rate for each cabin. So the latter can know “which items are tried but not bought”. Thanks to these statistics, the Ralph Lauren group, in our case, can easily identify which jacket model is regularly tried on but with a lower conversion rate than for other jackets. This information can be very relevant to buyers or designers too as the aesthetics of the model may be good but not the fit.

A technological solution that will expand

For Ralph Lauren, changing rooms equipped with RFID technology would have a definite advantage by allowing real time savings to find the items sought by the customer, would facilitate inventory tracking. The technological solution makes it possible to know the quantities in stock in store and in reserve and therefore to know exactly how many items are available.

After the success of New York, the Ralph Lauren group has just set up the Oak Labs fitting room in a second store in Dallas, in March 2016. The offer is attractive and seems easily transferable to other points of sale when ‘a brand only has a few stores, however the cost has not been disclosed and certainly requires significant financial investment: labels, readers, fitting out of changing rooms, computer equipment, monthly license to be donated to Oak Labs… The question will therefore be whether the sales made by stores equipped with this technology will really be higher than they were in stores not equipped.

Will Ralph Lauren invest in this technology for all these 171 points of sale and 242 outlet stores? Will these booths with “smart mirrors” make it possible to attract customers to the store again at a time when many customers are turning to online shopping? Healey Cypher is convinced that this “unique customer experience” helps increase the average shopping cart. In any case, the progression of sales at Rebecca Minkoff and their desire to equip the three other American stores seem to prove it. If Ralph Lauren’s adoption of the concept also confirms this trend, other brands could take the plunge.

This article was originally posted on Digital marketing: Ralph Lauren and his “smart mirrors”

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