TECHNOLOGY

Rebecca Minkoff puts virtual mirror into shoppers hands

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Mirror, mirror in her hand, is Rebecca Minkoff one of the most innovative retailers in the land?

The specialty retailer is inching closer to this title as it brings its store-level smart mirror experience into its shoppers hands through a new app. Specifically, the app from Zeekit allows consumers to virtually “try on” fashions before buying online or trying them on in-store.

After uploading a full-body picture into the app, shoppers tap a product they see online, in print or in store, and it is displayed on their actual body image. The item can be mixed and matched with fashions in their virtual closet; shared with friends, or purchased through a link in the app.

"At Rebecca Minkoff, the integration of technology and style is paramount,” said Uri Minkoff, the chain’s CEO and co-founder. “Technology that enables the consumer to virtually try on a garment and give her the chance to access the feel of our product with immediacy is technology made for the Rebecca Minkoff girl.”

Launched during New York Fashion Week, consumers viewing runway styles either on-site at the Rebecca Minkoff show, online at the Rebecca Minkoff website, or through the Zeekit app were able to tap the product, virtually try it on, share it with friends and purchase it, a company statement reported.

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M.Wittenstein says:
Sep-23-2016 08:41 pm

RM enhances the experience (and challenges its competitors)
Last year, I wrote about RM's 'magic mirror' (http://storyminers.com/blog/magic-mirror-reflects-major-innovation-for-the-connected-consumer/), but I never thought it would leave the store. I thought that big, cool, virtual mirror was going to remain as a destination experience for the brand. I was wrong. RM has raised the bar on itself. Sure, others can add their own version of the morror tech, but RM's in-store operations and fulfillment have had time to season. They're probably ahead of others and that's why the RM experience is nearly impossible to replicate. Turning a well-implemented, in-store technology into an app destined to become a brand ambassador is a very smart move.

M.Wittenstein says:
Sep-23-2016 01:20 am

Rebecca Minkoff Puts Pressure on the Competition
It's brave of this brand to put a cool feature that drove traffic into its stores into the hands of its customers (who might not be in the stores when they use it). Many other retailers wouldn't risk doing that. When I wrote about the Magic Mirror (http://storyminers.com/blog/magic-mirror-reflects-major-innovation-for-the-connected-consumer/) last summer, I never expected it to be available outside the store's walls. I am pleasantly surprised to be wrong about that. Even if competitors copy the functionality, they will be hard pressed to replicate the service elements and integration RM has already developed. What a great idea extension the 'mini' magic mirror is. It's gone upward from brand-defining experience to virtual brand ambassador for the company. Nice work, RM!

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Insights

Report: Five insights about the shifting retail calendar

BY Marianne Wilson

This year, Hanukkah and Christmas Eve both fall on the last Saturday before Christmas, dubbed Super Saturday, which is likely to have a dramatic impact on traffic on that day.

That’s according to ShopperTrak, a leading global provider of consumer behavior insights and location-based analytics. “Any holiday or retailer-specific event that moves around the calendar will result in yearly changes in customer traffic patterns, which in turn will impact sales,” said Brian Field, senior director of advisory services at ShopperTrak, “Retailers easily can turn this potential pitfall into a revenue generator with some advanced planning. Those that are not already monitoring these shifts should consider getting onboard.”

ShopperTrak offered the following insights to help retailers understand and capitalize on yearly nuances:

1. Research calendar shifts and historical traffic trends. Looking at past calendar shifts and their impact on traffic and sales is an incredibly important part of the planning process and a multi-year analysis will help retailers identify patterns.

For instance, in 2016 Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. Will shoppers be more likely to take off from work on Friday or Monday? Historical data and analysis can help retailers predict and determine whether or not to staff up on Friday based on past behaviors. Analyzing prior weather events and looking at future forecasts also can be informative when scheduling employees or planning promotions.

2. Be aware of unique situations. This year, the first night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve both fall on the last Saturday before Christmas – traditionally dubbed Super Saturday. This will likely have a dramatic impact on traffic and sales that day.

Retailers need to prepare for the possibility that Super Saturday will instead shift to Dec. 17, as Dec. 24 may not attract the expected level of traffic. Appropriate levels of staffing will be critical – overstaffing chips away at the bottom line but under-staffing can drive away sales and hurt a store’s reputation.

3. Adjust expectations based on landmark dates. Each year, important selling dates shift, sometimes with minimal change and other times more significantly.

For instance, this year Hanukkah begins two weeks later than it did in 2015, which means the second half of December could generate more meaningful sales opportunities.

Similarly, Easter 2017 will be about three weeks later than in 2016, providing more promotional opportunities that should be planned for accordingly.

4. Outline the different types of shifts.Holidays such as Easter Sunday, which move the holiday week but not the day (it is always on Sunday), will have more of an impact on the overall week, as well as the weeks before and after. Retailers need to examine this shift from one period to another on an annual basis to determine how Easter in March differs from Easter in April.

On the other hand, when the day of the week changes, such as July 4 moving from a Monday to a Tuesday, the issue is determining what days would be designated as the holiday observance day. For example, when Christmas Day falls on a Wednesday, it is less likely that a shopper will have an extended weekend off for celebrating or shopping, which will certainly impact traffic size.

5. Plan for the 53-week year.Fiscal year 2017 will be a 53-week year, as opposed to the normal 52-week year, which will impact how comparisons are made and reported out.

Many retailers follow the NRF recommendation, which aligns the weeks based upon date proximity, while others choose their own methods. In both cases, the best practice is to determine the one, ideal, method for aligning the calendar for all three years (pre-53 week year, 53-week year, post-53 week year) well in advance so that all goals and objectives are consistent.

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OPERATIONS

New England retailer closing stores early for presidential debate

BY Marianne Wilson

The CEO of Jordan’s Furniture wants folks to watch the upcoming presidential debate, which is scheduled for Sept. 26 from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EST.

“This is a very important election for our families, for our children and for future generations,” said Eliot Tatelman, president and CEO, Jordan’s Furniture, which his owned by Berkshire Hathaway. “By watching the debate live, it will give people the opportunity to make an educated decision and cast a responsible vote, so we are closing all Jordan’s Furniture stores at 8 p.m. next Monday.”

Jordan’s Furniture is known for its mega-stores which combine furniture and home furnishings with entertainment attractions. Its newest location, a 200,000-sq.-ft. store in New Haven, includes an elaborate indoor rope course, a water show with light and sound effects, a pizzeria and ice cream counter.

The company operates six locations in New England.

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