Amazon has a real-world fitting room, and it makes me want to shop
I hate buying clothes. Buying online means never really knowing if that shirt or those pants will fit. But entering the store means, well, physically going to a mall. It also means awkward moments in a fitting room where I need to get an employee’s attention to bring me a different size or color. Often I don’t even care, then I go years between buying new pants.
Still, I was here at Americana at Brand in Glendale, CA the weekend before Christmas, doing some last-minute shopping with my family. Mainly out of curiosity and cynicism, I walked into Amazon Style, the online retail giant’s concept clothing store, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Merging its online shopping experience with a revamped high-tech dressing room, it made me want to spend more time looking at clothes. For once, I didn’t feel the rushed embarrassment or anxiety that comes with trying things on in a locker room. This store is only one of two in the world (the other being in Columbus, Ohio) but hopefully that’s not an experience and more how all retailers start thinking about their experience buying clothes.
Amazon’s forays into the brick-and-mortar world have been varied and, at times, confusing. There are fully automated Amazon Go stores, where you pick up an item and are automatically charged when you leave. Amazon also has its own supermarket concept alongside its chain of Whole Foods Markets. Then there were bookstores and pop-up stores, which the company closed this year.
Amazon declined to comment on its plans for the Amazon Style store.
As with Amazon’s other stores, the key to the experience is in its shopping app. At first glance, Amazon Style looks like any other clothing store, with a few trinkets up front and sections for men and women.
But on closer inspection, there are some subtle differences. Each item of clothing appears once – there are no different sizes. Prices are the same as you would pay online, although there are discounts if you spend more. Flanking one side of the store is a row of dressing rooms – with more rooms taking up the entire second floor.
It’s these dressing rooms where Amazon Style really shines. Rather than randomly finding an empty room, I use the app to scan a few clothes I want to try on and tell it I want to “start a room.” An employee then gathered the selections and put them in a fitting room. After about seven minutes, the app notified me that one was ready and directed me to a specific dressing room number, which I unlocked using my app.
Once inside, I saw the various shirts and jackets I had scanned hanging on a rack or neatly folded on the shelf below. Also, a few more things were added based on what Amazon thought I might like. Funnily enough, there was a Calvin Klein shirt on top of the pile, a “sponsored post” that was basically a pop-up advertisement that came to life (I didn’t bother to try it).
On the wall to my right was a large touch screen that displayed my selections and offered recommendations for other items I might like. I could also request different sizes and styles and have them delivered to my fitting room.
Rather than a store clerk knocking on my door and handing me the clothes, the items are delivered from the closet to the right of the rack. It takes a few minutes, but when the items are ready, the cupboard door locks and a red light flashes. Inside, the back of the closet opens, allowing an Amazon Style employee to hang the new clothes. Once the red light goes out, I open the door on my side, and there they are.
The touchscreen and dressing room take the best parts of the physical and online shopping experience and blend them into an effective hybrid. It’s so simple, yet it takes a lot of the hassle out of the shopping experience. I entered the store on a whim, but left with a white Adidas sweater.
In fact, I look forward to the next time I need new pants. Maybe in 2024?
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