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February 18, 2014
Designing the Lifestyle Experience
By: Brian Landry

Part 3: Digital Closet, Innovating in Shopping

In this final post, we explore how our strategy provides value for customers and benefits retailers. We describe how interactions evolve beyond connecting channels to connecting to the lives of customers. We begin by identifying a common apparel customer activity: daily wardrobe decisions. These decisions range from coordinating items, to determining the need for new items. In the following scenario, we present a “digital closet” concept that is comprised of a set of multi-channel services apparel companies. Each company can help customers with wardrobe decisions and management. With a digital closet, the retailer can then place its products in the context of wardrobe decisions when the need first appears.

Sarah’s Coat

Sarah Smith is an executive at a large company and juggles her work and family duties. She is a mother of three and is constantly on the go. Sarah considers herself an impatient shopper. For Sarah, time is money and does not want to waste time hanging at a store or online browsing. Her top priorities are discovering new items and managing the overcrowding of her closet by identifying items that can be donated.

Sarah loves shopping at Clothing Inc. (a fictitious business) because they are always there when she needs them. On her way to the office, she runs into a co-worker wearing a stylish coat that she loves. Sarah takes a photo of the coat with her Clothing Inc. app. Immediately, the app pulls up the coat and adds it to her shopping cart as well as to her “Must Haves” board on Pinterest where she shares her passion for the brand. Having little time to shop, she uses the “Complete the Look” feature to discover options to coordinate with the coat. An alert goes out to her Clothing Inc. stylist as well as to her friends requesting ideas.

After a demanding day at work, Sarah takes out her tablet at home and opens the Clothing Inc. app to access her digital closet. A new lookbook is populated with options by her Clothing Inc. stylist, a close friend and the recommendation engine. Clothing Inc.’s clothes contain sensors, a summary of how other people are wearing the coat is provided. A number of friends have voted on the looks and left comments for Sarah too. Each look pulls together a mixture of items Sarah owns along with suggested new purchases. She likes all of the recommendations and decides to go with the look that received the most votes, but swaps out the shoes included with this look for a pair on her “Must Haves” list that go well. Once completed, she clicks “Get the Look” and the items she does not own are added to her shopping cart. She confirms her payment information, and her order is processed for pick up in the store (a preference of Sarah’s). Her new purchases are included in her digital closet for future interactions. After completing her purchase, Sarah is alerted that a number of items in her closet have reached the two-year expiration date she set previously. The embedded sensors in all of Clothing Inc.’s items provide Sarah with a look at how much she has worn other items in her closet. Sarah can see those that have not yet hit the expiration date. She agrees it is time for those items to go, in addition to, a few others she no longer wears. Sarah collects these items and places them at the door to take to the local shelter. As a reward, Clothing Inc. gives her bonus loyalty points. The next time she visits her digital closet there are recommendations to replace some of the clothes she donated and the cycle begins again…

In this scenario, the promise of the Internet of Things provides new services to customers that enable better management of purchases, and crowdsourced ideas. The scenario also shows how connecting around products (in this instance using a lookbook) can drive purchasing. In addition, the use of context (e.g., products already purchased) helps generate options and recommendations that maximize the use of the customer’s wardrobe. Retailers gain increased visibility, provide support to their customers’ everyday lives and can quickly build brand advocates. The customer is responsive to the interactions because they fit seamlessly with their lifestyle and daily activities, together with enhancing their experiences. The retailer now has multiple occasions to address the customer’s needs with a product. As the retailer becomes more a part of the customer’s life, their value to the customer is increased and can provide greater opportunity to measure ROI down to the customer level. The overall data captured through interactions between items, customers and with the customer herself creates a wealth of information to personalize customer experiences and powerful new ways to invest marketing dollars.

Learn more:

Part 1: Designing the Lifestyle Experience
Part 2: Becoming a Part of the Customer’s Life

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