Adaptation: Macy’s Brings Tablets to Your Fitting Room

Macy's Storefront

In our second installment of Adaptation, our blog series highlighting how the biggest brands in retail are evolving to stay afloat, we take a look at Macy’s, the number one apparel retailer in the U.S.

As Amazon barges into the apparel space, threatening to claim Macy’s throne, Macy’s is funneling innovation into the one area of the customer experience an online retailer simply cannot replicate: the dressing room. As Bloomberg Business reports, Macy’s is testing a technology-enabled concept to ease the dreaded (but critical) try-before-you-buy experience of shopping for women’s swimsuit and athletic apparel.

Imagine this: you walk into Macy’s swimwear department, where, instead of endless sizes and colors of the season’s newest styles jammed onto overstuffed rounders, one of each style is displayed on a mannequin, much like a design showroom. Armed with your smartphone, you utilize an app to scan the tag of the style you like, and are presented with a screen similar to an e-commerce store’s mobile site. You tap to select sizes and colors you are interested in, then tap to add them to your fitting room.

Different clothes on hangers close up

You continue browsing the clean, minimalist “showroom,” scanning and adding more swimsuits to your fitting room as you go. You receive a notification on your phone that your room is ready. (Notice you haven’t had to peck through one rack, nor drape one item of clothing over your arm while attempting to manage your handbag, your phone and your coffee?)

You arrive in your fitting room, where your requested items are waiting for you. You try on your items, and utilize a tablet mounted on the dressing room wall to request additional sizes or styles as needed. The new items arrive via a chute in your room, as quickly as 30 seconds after you request them. No parading through the sales floor in an ill-fitting bikini to track down a sales associate. No in-and-out of the dressing room to try new styles. And obviously, no return shipping.

It’s a fascinating – if expensive – experiment for Macy’s, which has earned high marks in the apparel retailer space for its omnichannel presence. It’s unclear whether the test will be rolled out beyond their Manhattan Beach store, but in the meantime, we’re kind of marveling at our own powers of prediction…

Back around 2003, Randal was asked to create a “store of the future” at the GlobalShop show. Collaborating with an independent designer and Patagonia, our store of the future featured a dressing room with a computer and camera to take and record the shopper’s measurements. Clothes were even delivered directly to the room via a tube. “This was way before the dawn of the iPad and smartphone,” recalls Chuck Bray, VP of Sales and Marketing. “This can only mean one thing…hover cars can’t be far behind.”

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