Reshaping Retail: Digital tech turns fitting rooms into data collectors
2017-12-05 10:30:00

The focus of the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen is digital economy and how it is reshaping our society. You've probably heard about that, but have you heard about magic mirrors? They're just one of the big changes coming to retail businesses, and our reporter Mi Jiayi has been finding out more about them.

This apparel store might look just like any others in Shanghai, but if you pick up an item of clothing and hold it in front of the mirror, you'll see a remarkable high-tech display. The mirror shows you what the item looks like on a model, some possible styling tips, and the price. The secret of the technology lies in this little gadget - it talks to the scanner in the mirror, shares all the information, and there's more.

GAO SIYUAN SMART SHOP DEVELOPER If it detects movement for more than 30 seconds, the computer logs it as a valid touch, which indicates customers are interested in the piece. And by recording the number of valid touches, the number of the scans in the mirror, and how many times customers actually tried the clothes on, we can analyze the popularity of every item in the store, and decide what the sales person can improve on during the sales process.

And the customers like it too. If they decide to buy something, they can just purchase it online, because the mirror has given them all the information they need.

"I don't have to line up to pay for the clothes. That's really convenient in avoiding long lines."

These sorts of new retail ideas are becoming more and more common here, and big internet players are investing in them more and more heavily. Auchan's staffless convenience store Bingo Box got a lot of attention earlier this year, and Alibaba has now also launched its staffless supermarket and new retail flagship store He Ma. One industry analyst says digitization is reshaping the retail industry, and not just in terms of e-commerce.

Jeongmin Seong Senior Fellow, McKinsey Global InstituteWe believe it is an inevitable trend in China. And based upon our consumer survey, we've found that 85 percent of Chinese consumers are already omni-channel shoppers. They move across different channels, through online and offline. At the same time, their expectation is rising, 60 - 70 percent of them are interested in omni-channel services, for example, scanning the QR code at the store, checking inventory through digital platforms, or return the online purchased goods at the offline stores. However, only 10 - 30 percent of the shoppers said they've tried that service, which indicates huge potential of introducing new retail, new omni-channel retail businesses.

Data from McKinsey show that more than 45 percent of China's retailers have upgraded their business with some form of digital input, a significant increase compared to 2014, when the percentage was only 25 percent.

Source:CGTN Editor:Hiram