Friday, February 05, 2016

Whoosh Fitting Rooms (or How not to save the High Street)

Eva Pascoe's weekly Retail Bytes dropped into my inbox earlier this week. It's always a really interesting read about the intersection of retail and technology. This week, one of the things she wrote about and particularly caught my interest was Hointer's latest wheeze, The Whoosh Fitting Rooms. You can watch the video below of how it works. I'd love to know what you think.

I'm horrified that the team at Hointer think it's ok to have clothes shoved to the customer down a chute - not unlike a rubbish chute, in fact. That may be ok for a pair of men's jeans but it most certainly is not ok for a cosy merino wool sweater or a glamorous silk top. And just as bad, if you don't want to buy the item, you throw it back down the chute as if you're throwing it away. Aaaarrrgggghhh. As a former fashion retailer, this is an abomination! As a customer, this is not a way I want to deal with clothes in store.

I know we're in an era of fast fashion, but there is, thankfully, a move towards slower fashion and a move towards buying less and to enjoy what you have much more thanks to the likes of Marie Kondo.

Also, as one friend pointed out on the discussion about this on my Facebook page, never mind that you would need to invest heavily in new fittings and fixtures in store, have the customer download the right app and deal with their mobile screen and the screen in the fitting room, which also means having great connectivity, as well as retrain your store staff in the new system (after all, they would be the ones in the back setting it all up and ensuring stock was in the right place at the right time) and install new point of sale software and checkouts.

In the same thread on Facebook, I lamented that retail staff no longer know how to fold clothes at the cash desk. I find myself refolding clothes at point of sale more times than I care to mention so that they don't get damaged before I've even had chance to wear them. I don't care what price you pay for an item in store or whether that store is a charity shop, Primark, Marks & Spencers or Harrods, I expect my belongings to be handled with care. At the point I pay, those items belong to me, not to the store and as such, they need to be handled accordingly. It doesn't take long to teach someone how to fold garments properly. And once you know, you know for life. It also speeds up the checkout procedure.

So, dear retailers, please ramp up your staff training so that bagging up goods ends up being joyful for both employee and purchaser. And Hointer, please put your collective big brains towards a problem that is actually worth solving.

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