Rebecca Minkoff Blends Online and Offline in Connected Stores

If, while watching Downton Abbey, you've ever slipped into a reverie in which you have a lady's maid who helps select and bring you your clothes, knows your personal preferences, adjusts your surroundings to suit you and generally makes smooth the path of your day, well, Rebecca Minkoff just may help your dream come true.

In an example of how our online and offline worlds are beginning to collide, Rebecca Minkoff, designer and retailer of handbags, apparel and accessories, in November 2014 unveiled its "Connected Store" in two locations, one in New York's SoHo neighborhood and one in San Francisco. The store used Connected Glass and other technologies from eBay to merge the experiences of shopping online and shopping in a brick-and-mortar store via "Connected Walls" — oversized mirrored displays where customers can view videos, browse content, request items to be sent to fitting rooms, push checkout to their mobile phone, have the items shipped home, and even order beverages.

Inside fitting rooms, customers can continue to interact with connected mirrors to request assistance or other items, save their items to mobile for later, check out and even change the lighting to better reflect the atmosphere in which they plan to wear the garment, says creative director and co-founder Rebecca Minkoff. ("SoHo after dark" is the current SoHo store favorite.)

Additionally, merchandise is equipped with UHF RFID tags from Avery Dennison that allow dressing rooms to identify the merchandise when it is brought in, enabling the store not only to keep track of inventory in real time, but also to provide a better customer experience, says CEO and co-founder Uri Minkoff. From inside the dressing room, a customer can find out, for example, what other sizes and colors are available in the store, or receive recommendations about complementary items, he says.

Shoppers can also take their entire "fitting room" with them via the Rebecca Minkoff iOS mobile app, adding to their own personal profiles, while each store associate is equipped with a mobile companion app to the fitting room and connected wall, which gives them full insight into customer requests, product details, and inventory across channels so that they can quickly and easily provide assistance to customers. It also integrates into the mobile POS, so that they can streamline the checkout process.

After they leave the store, shoppers can return merchandise easily across all channels and learn more about products they interacted with in the store; that same trail of information is also available to Rebecca Minkoff, which can now collect information in-store about what customers browse, try on and buy, just as they do online.

Sounds like a dream come true for the retailer, too.

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