One of the key questions I get from retailers is “How can I use technology to create experiences that inspire my customers to buy more, both in the store and online?” In the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group’s (IBSG) work with leading worldwide retailers, we uncovered what we believe is the answer—the “inspire” trigger. Specifically, inspire triggers are emotionally charged shopping experiences that make customers exclaim, “I never thought of that, let’s buy it,” or, “Wow, I want to by that now.”
From this work, Cisco IBSG developed Cisco StyleMeTM—a virtual fashion mirror that combines augmented reality with the latest mobile and networking technologies to create a fun, new, interactive way to try on clothing and accessories virtually. Cisco StyleMe lets customers visually browse a wide range of products; build outfits; receive expert recommendations; capture images of what they look like to share with friends and family; create a digital wardrobe of items in which they’re interested; and buy their selections in the store or online.
Women hate dressing rooms, most women I talk to (contrary to popular belief) hate the experience of shopping and would rather get root canal than sift through piles and pile of merchandise to, maybe, find a pair of pants that fit…or are at least acceptable.
Well, enter Cisco’s Style Me: Virtual Fashion Mirror, a mirror that, according to their blog, “combines augmented reality with the latest mobile and networking technologies to create a fun, new, interactive way to try on clothing and accessories virtually.”
Answering the burning question from retailers “How can I use technology to create experiences that inspire my customers to buy more, both in the store and online?” the Style Me: Virtual Fashion Mirror (well, actually a large screen showing your reflection) allows customers to virtually try on clothes through a a series of gestures and slide a variety of looks over their body, finish the looks with accessories and figure out if the looks work for them…without ever having to take their clothes off. Sounds like tremendous fun, doesn’t it?
Here is the thing that is interesting about the “inspire” trigger. From personal experience, having shopped with and styled women for the past ten years, I have seen this inspire trigger activated. One thing I can say for certain is that when a woman is inspired by how she looks, feels confident in what she is wearing and is sure she is making the right choice, concerns about price and need wane tremendously. No matter what a woman simply MUST own what they are trying on. The virtual mirror hopes to have the same result with shoppers that I’ve been able to create with my clients for years. In that respect, I feel hopeful about this virtual mirror from Cisco. Yet, I do wonder that without human interaction of a skilled salesperson or stylist, if a woman will still be able to find the same level of confidence in her choices just because she can see something on her body in a virtual manner. Are we asking too much of this virtual mirror as a solution? Sure, the ability to not tire yourself out from dressing and undressing over and over again to find one gem in a pile may keep women from getting frustrated as quickly, however, without skilled supervision of someone who can guide them through the process and assure them they are making the right choice I wonder if that “inspire” trigger will actually be triggered? Let’s just say that I hope that the virtual style mirror from Cisco will also come with skilled salespeople who will be able to help navigate the process with a customer.
What is it?
As mobile technologies further evolve, consumers more often get accustomed to using interactive technologies while shopping and online competition grows, it is not surprising that retailers seek for new opportunities to get shoppers to their stores. Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group believes, as they state it themselves, that “mashups – solutions that bring together the virtual and physical worlds in the store environment—will be instrumental in helping retailers lead this change.”
In 2011 the company developed Cisco StyleMe, a virtual fitting mirror that not only enables shoppers to fit clothing without having to go to the fitting room to change, but also to mix and match fashion outfits the retailers offers. Additionally, shoppers can get expert advice on their outfits or receive feedback through the social media options the mirror includes.
YouTube: innovative retail concepts
How does it work?
Cisco’s StyleMe core solution includes a life-sized screen to display the video output, a PrimeSense camera to capture images and gestures, and an artificial intelligence engine that combines image analytics, recognition software, and augmented-reality capabilities. Furthermore, the tools works with specific software that together create the customer experience. When using the unit in-store, employees are also equipped with a ‘Cisco Cius’ tablet that enables them to operate the StyleMe unit as well as help customers to get the best experience. Additionally, Cisco makes it possible to place orders through the in-store system – this however is dependent upon the wishes of the retailer.
What is its core value?
Making shopping more fun, more social and easier by technology.
Londoner John Lewis’ flagship store is proposing a virtual fashion mirror to its customers in their Oxford street location.
When shoppers walk up in front of the mirror, the system will capture their image and will allow them to use gestures and touch to promptly browse a catalogue of up to 500 pieces from the women John Lewis ‘collection clothes and accessories, try on garments with no need to get undressed, built complete outfits virtually, and finally, purchase the items they will chose directly in the store.
An augmented reality system that combines the latest mobile and networking technologies
The system developed by Cisco and named “StyleMe” consists of “a life-sized screen to display the video output, a PrimeSense camera to capture images and gestures, and an artificial intelligence engine that combines image analytics, recognition software, and augmented-reality capabilities. The touch-based interfaces Cisco StyleMe also adds value by providing customers with expert fashion advice and allowing them to receive feedback about their choices through social media and messaging.”
A fun, new, interactive way to try on clothing and accessories virtually
Two “StyleMe mirrors” are on trial on the John Lewis’ Oxford Street flagship store 1st floor. The trial started on april 20th and is running for six weeks. If the system is successful, it could become a permanent fixture in the retailer’s flexible department store which will open next autumn.