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Amazon Style’s Digitally Powered Brick-and-Mortar Experience Blends Human Touch With AI Sales Support

Amazon Style’s Digitally Powered Brick-and-Mortar Experience Blends Human Touch With AI Sales Support

Before the May 25, 2022 grand opening of Amazon Style — the retailer’s initial venture into fashion brick-and-mortar retail — some thought the Los Angeles space at the Americana at Brand would be dominated by technology and devoid of human interaction. But on the contrary, while there are plenty of digital tools based on AI-powered algorithms that help customers shop the store, these features support hundreds of associates who contribute to the omnichannel experience.

By adapting its AI machine learning techniques to a brick-and-mortar space, Amazon is doing more than just providing the goods customers want. The retailer also is using technology that could increase per-visit profit margins by presenting cross-sell and upsell options of additional products that guests didn’t know they wanted (but are relevant to their preferences). The technology also persists beyond the in-store shopping trip, affording shoppers online access to items they scanned during their visit, thereby allowing guests to continue shopping the store at home.

Amazon Style plans to open a second brick-and-mortar location later in 2022 at the Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio.

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Enhancing Physical Retail with Digital Tools

Upon entering the bright, airy space, which features colorful social media-ready areas and fashion-focused installations, customers are greeted by a sign featuring a QR code that they can scan to begin the shopping experience. A group of human greeters are available to help with technology troubleshooting, answer questions or simply discuss fashion with guests.

Prompts by the Amazon Shopping app request customer information such as the sizes they most often wear, body type and the styles they wish to shop from Amazon’s in-house brands, such as the carbon neutral Amazon Aware and other labels including Allegra K, Champion, CK, CRZ Yoga, Good Man, Joie, Levi’s, Steve Madden, Tommy Hilfiger and Vince. Associates are also tasked with checking on customers as they shop the floor, but this assistance is afforded at a balance that is helpful — not overwhelming — to shoppers.

Within the customer-facing area of the approximately 30,000-square-foot space, shoppers will find only one piece for each item, except for a few displays showcasing jewelry and beauty items near checkout points to promote impulse purchases. Beyond the sales floor, Amazon Style’s stock area holds every size and color option for each item until a customer requests it. By scanning the piece’s QR code and then choosing a size and color, shoppers don’t have to browse racks of clothing to find their preferred pieces. Scanning the product QR codes also allows shoppers to read reviews of items before sending a request to stockroom employees, who deliver it either to the pickup counter or a fitting room.

Throughout the store, shoppers also can find physical installations with outfit recommendations organized by influencers. Named Lookbook, this merchandising method brings to life recommendations in the physical world that are complemented by digital suggestions shoppers can find on their phones as they shop.

Fitting Digital into Physical Fashion Retail

Customers who want to try on items start by entering a virtual queue, alerting back-of-house employees to select the scanned items and place them in a fitting room. Once a room is ready, the Amazon Shopping app notifies the customer, who has the option to snooze the alert and continue shopping until the guest is ready to try on items. When the shopper goes to the fitting room area, she or he gives a waiting associate the assigned room number and is greeted by name before being directed to the space, which is unlocked via a phone prompt.

All requested items are neatly arranged within a closet inside the space, in addition to items suggested by the machine learning algorithms used by Amazon Style. Using the touchscreen mounted to the fitting room wall, a customer may request additional sizes, colors and styles, or shop style recommendations generated by the feedback entered on the device.

These items are delivered to the fitting room via a secure closet door accessed from behind the space, while the door from the fitting room to the closet remains locked. A red light on the closet door inside the fitting room illuminates as employees stock the closet, and goes off once the items are in place. A notification displayed on the touchscreen shows that items have arrived, while the frame of the closet door illuminates in white light. Store associates in the area remain on hand to check on shoppers.

Expanding Checkout Options Beyond In-Store Shopping

At the checkout counter, payments may be processed via Amazon One, the company’s contactless, hover-enacted palm-identification technology. Customers may also pay using an existing credit card that is connected to an Amazon account by scanning the In-Store Code within the Amazon Shopping app. Shoppers who prefer traditional payment methods may choose credit or debit cards, cash or Amazon gift cards.

Customers who have purchased items online prior to their store visits can pick up their purchases at the Amazon Style pickup lounge and try them on before leaving. If customers change their minds after trying on items, Amazon Style will process it as a return.

Amazon Style continues its connection with shoppers even after they leave the physical premises. All items scanned by customers during an Amazon Style visit are saved within the Amazon Shopping app, allowing customers to potentially buy them online at a later date. At home, shoppers can also explore more items from brands they liked and scanned in the store.

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