As of early 2016, footwear and accessories retailer Aldo, initiated a new ‘Connected Store’ concept at the World Trade Center complex in New York City. The store’s 1,211 sq. ft. layout is artfully merchandised to tell a story, with the integration of digital technology that invites the customer to explore and engage with the brand and the collection.
Simply put, store technologies are integrated with the Aldo smartphone app to offer enhanced levels of customer convenience. On its own, the app allows customers to browse product offerings, coordinate looks (such as shoes with accessories), locate sizes at their local store and purchase online.
The store has several fully interactive and fully integrated in-store touch-points including an ‘endless shelf’ which appears on both wall-mounted screens and iPads available to customers. This service is being launched at 25 top-tier locations, along with supporting backend systems.
The Endless Shelf
The Endless Shelf is an interactive, wall mounted experience running on both iPads and large touchscreen displays. It offers the full product catalog, a content rich browsing experience. Both the customer and sales associates can view the store’s entire selection and order any additional styles online. It also enables targeted searches by color, style, size, price and silhouette.
Associate-Facing App: Connecting Customers to Associates
Aldo has developed a system where customers can make a request to try on any product from any touchpoint. The request will be sent out to all associates on the floor on their iPods. Associates can then claim and handle requests such as checking inventory or handling payment — in real time. The associate can use an onscreen icon to request a runner to deliver items the customer wants to try on to the floor. This way, the customer is never left unattended.
Sales associates can also use their tablets to scan any item on display and instantly obtain a wealth of information — the sizes and colors the item is offered in and the stock level on hand (also broken down by size and color).
The retailer’s new associate-facing tool ha sbeen developed by Aldo’s in-house technology team in tandem with Kinetic Cafe, a global design, innovation and technology firm.
Both the app and the endless shelf are supported by a data hub, or backend platform, which supplies complete product and inventory information to both.
At present, this associate-facing application has been rolled out to 100 Aldo stores.
Contextualizing Products with Looks
Some customers find Aldo’s huge selection intimidating, passing those products over because they can’t imagine how they might wear them. The solution is to wrap each product with high-quality model shots that inspire the user with different ways to wear the same product. A novel content model allows Aldo to pair multiple products with the same model shots.
Aldo and Kinetic spent one year doing demographic research on customers and associates — analyzing what they want from their total shopping experience, before rolling out these new technologies in their Connected Stores.
The Connected Stores have seen high levels of engagement with the new touch-points, and a marked increase in conversions.