(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s recipe for the department store of the future includes algorithmic recommendations and what one business manager called a “magic closet” in the dressing room.
The online retailer is making another push to grow its fashion business, announcing on Thursday that it will open its first clothing store this year, with a tech twist. “We wouldn’t do anything in physical retail unless we felt we could significantly improve the customer experience,” said Simoina Vasen, chief executive officer.
At 30,000 square feet (2,787 square meters), the planned “Amazon Style” store near Los Angeles is smaller than your typical department store. The model items are on the shelves and customers scan a code using the Amazon mobile app to select the color and size they want. To try on the clothes, which are tucked away in the back, shoppers enter a virtual queue for a dressing room that they unlock with their smartphone when ready.
Inside, the locker room is “a personal space where you can continue shopping without ever having to leave,” Vasen said. Each has a touchscreen that allows shoppers to request more items that staff deliver to a secure, two-sided cupboard “in minutes,” he said.
“It’s like a magical closet with a seemingly endless selection,” Vasen said.
Touchscreens also suggest items to buyers. Amazon tracks every asset a customer scans so that its algorithms customize clothing recommendations. Buyers can also fill out a style survey. By the time they arrive at a fitting room, employees have already deposited the items requested by customers and others that Amazon has collected.
Shoppers can opt out with the help of a concierge, Amazon said.
Amazon has unveiled the technology to help customers choose dresses earlier. The company overtook Walmart Inc as the top-bought clothing retailer in the United States, according to analyst research.
But it still has room to expand and compete with the likes of Macy’s Inc and Nordstrom Inc, which have opened smaller-format stores. Amazon’s range of grocery and convenience stores has yet to overturn brick and mortar retail.
The company’s new store aims to attract a wide range of shoppers with hundreds of brands, Vasen said, refusing to give examples.
It has hundreds of employees and no cashier-less cashiers like some Amazon stores, Vasen said. However, using a biometric system known as Amazon One, customers can pay with a touch of the palm of their hand.
(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Palo Alto, California; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)
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