Amazon.com's formula for the department store of the future includes algorithmic recommendations and a "magic closet" in the fitting room, according to one corporate director.
The online retailer announced on Thursday that it will build its first-ever clothes store this year, with a digital twist, in an effort to expand its fashion business. Simoina Vasen, a managing director, said, "We wouldn't undertake anything in physical retail unless we felt we could considerably improve the customer experience."
The planned "Amazon Style" store near Los Angeles is smaller than a standard department store at 30,000 square feet. Models are on the racks, and consumers use Amazon's mobile app to scan a code to choose the color and size they want. Shoppers enter a virtual wait for a fitting room, which they open with their smartphone when it is ready, to try on the clothing that is stored in the rear.
The dressing room on the inside provides "a personal space for you to continue shopping without ever having to leave," according to Vasen. Each features a touchscreen that allows customers to request additional products, which are delivered to a secure, two-sided closet "within minutes," according to her.
"It's like a magical closet with an infinite number of options," Vasen added.
Shoppers can also get suggestions from touchscreens. Amazon keeps track of every item a customer scans in order to tailor apparel recommendations. Customers can also participate in a style survey. Employees have already deposited customers' requested products as well as Amazon-selected items by the time they arrive in a fitting room.
Customers can opt-out with the help of a concierge, according to Amazon.
Before, Amazon announced technology to assist buyers in selecting clothing. According to expert research, the company has eclipsed Walmart as the most-shopped clothes retailer in the United States.
However, it still has room to grow and compete with smaller-format retailers like Macy's and Nordstrom. Amazon's physical grocery and convenience stores have yet to disrupt traditional retail.
Vasen declined to name specific products but said the company's new store seeks to appeal to a wide variety of customers.
It employs hundreds of people and does not use a cashier-less checkout system like some Amazon locations, according to Vasen. Customers can still pay with a sweep of their palm using Amazon One, a biometric technology.