Interactive kiosks step up Rent the Runway’s in-store experience
A fast-growing online apparel and accessories rental company is making it easier for customers to pick up and drop off their ensembles.
Rent the Runway manages more than 450,000 pieces of designer fashion for what it describes as its “closet in the cloud.” However, this is a massive logistical enterprise — one that relies on mobile technology to collect millions of data points about each user’s interaction with the brand. Through a new partnership with Alia Technologies, Rent the Runway now has a way to tie all of that incoming data into its digital in-store experience to make returns, exchanges and rentals seamlessly easy.
By installing Alia’s self-service interactive kiosks at store-level, customers will be able to quickly pick up and drop off orders, and easily exchange pieces right on the spot. The solution supports 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPads to create an interactive device that features digital signage based on images and full resolution videos, as well as scanning technology that can process QR codes and bar codes.
The technology is available in the retailer’s New York City flagship store, as well as locations in Chicago, San Francisco, Topanga, California, and Washington, D.C., according to the company.
“As we expand our ‘endless closet’ into local locations across the country, it is critical that we deliver the same seamless, luxury experience that our customers expect — especially now that we have some customers accessing the store several times a week,” said Hampton Catlin, senior director of engineering, Rent the Runway.
“Traditional scanning devices and systems were difficult and slow for our customers to use, plus they were all rather bulky and unappealing,” added Catlin. “Aila was the only solution that we found that could meet our needs — it lets our customers and associates quickly and efficiently scan the tiny labels on our products to ensure all of their interactions meet our brand standards. Aila’s scanning speed and accuracy is far beyond anything else we have seen.”
Specialty retailer makes waves with commitment to unified commerce
Everything But Water is dipping its toe into the “connected commerce” waters.
The swimwear and resort wear retailer has experienced a significant level of growth over the last decade — both in the number stores it operates, as well as the growth of its digital business. However, both factors began taking a toll on the company’s retail systems — as well as the retailer’s ability to bridge its shopping experience cross-channel.
These issues were further exacerbated by consumers’ increasing demand for a unified experience. Regardless of whether they interact with Everything But Water’s brick-and-mortar stores, online or contact center, “customers expect a positive and consistent brand experience during each visit — but we needed a catalyst that encouraged our customers to make a purchase,” said Everything But Water CEO, Randall Blumenthal. “To make that happen, we needed to the right technology in place.”
When considering a partner to help them along their journey, Blumenthal wanted to work with a company that could help it transition away from its aging legacy solutions, and toward managed services available in the cloud. The ideal technology provider would also deliver modernized, scalable solutions that could support stronger customer engagement, personalized experiences and improved fulfillment.
The retailer joined forces with Manhattan Associates, and began deploying the company’s Manhattan Scale solution, a move that upgraded the company’s warehouse management operations and fully automated its distribution center.
“This gave us the structure we needed to future-proof our operation,” Blumenthal said. “Cloud-based solutions also gives us the alternatives needed to maintain our edge in the marketplace.”
Looking ahead, Everything But Water plans to deploy the technology provider’s Manhattan Active Omni solution to fuse order management and store fulfillment applications, next-generation point-of-sale and clienteling applications onto a single platform. This step will give store associates a 360-degree view of customer information, and access to the company’s full network of inventory.
As a result, the retailer will be able to deliver personalized “buy anywhere, ship anywhere” service to shoppers across any touchpoint, Blumenthal explained.
The cloud-based platform will also enable the company to quickly deploy this additional functionality with little downtime. However, Everything But Water is in no rush.
“While we want to move as quickly as possible, we need to maintain a pace that makes sense for the business and still keeps us competitive,” Blumenthal said, adding that these new capabilities will be ramped up throughout 2018 and 2019.
Study: Online holiday sales exceed last year’s gains
Mobile usage and search trends contributed to record-high e-commerce sales for the 2017 holiday shopping season.
During the 2017 holiday shopping season, U.S. e-commerce sales increased 13% from the previous year. In 2016, e-commerce sales increased 10.43% from 2015, according to new analysis from NetElixir.
For most of the retail categories analyzed, mobile sales saw modest gains. The biggest m-commerce increase was 11% in the cosmetics category. The apparel category saw a 2% increase, and gifting saw a 3% life, but the electronics and food & gourmet categories saw a slight dip in sales (1%).
“This holiday season data shows overall positive growth,” said Udayan Bose, CEO of NetElixir. “Consumers are continuing to move to online shopping for their holiday purchases, and are also using their mobile devices more for purchasing in specific retail categories like cosmetics. With the mobile visit data trending in a steeper upward direction, we can expect that m-commerce figures will be higher next holiday season.”
Despite m-commerce’s modest gains, mobile visits rose sharply across most categories. The apparel category saw a dramatic increase of 32% for mobile visits. All other categories saw single digit increases for mobile visits, which indicates that shoppers were using mobile devices more for browsing and product research this holiday season than before.
According to the report’s search marketing trends, average order values (AOV) saw the biggest lift this year with an increase of 19.4%. Conversions increased by 15.6%, impressions increased by 12.8% and the average cost-per-click went up by 14.2%.
“The increase in average order values was significant this holiday season and retailers should be taking note of this figure in particular,” said Bose. “This dramatic increase implies that consumers are growing more comfortable making expensive purchases online. The overall positive trend of the other search marketing metrics indicate that digital marketing is growing in effectiveness, leading consumers to the brands and products they are interested to purchase.”
E-commerce sales volume also ranged by U.S. regions. The highest increase in the south with a 24.3% jump. The next highest was found in the west with a 12.7% increase. The central U.S. had a 12.2% jump, and the northeast had an 11.4% sales lift.