American Eagle Shopping Experience
A heightened in-store experience via fittingroom tech, sylist, and MPOS
CLIENT PRESENTED MPOS ISSUE
American Eagle Outfitters had in the previous year just distributed ipads and ipods amoung its high volume stores, aiming to increase sales with a personal associate-customer experience similar to that of Apple's. They wanted to use mobile point of sale (MPOS) to alleviate the shortage of employees, reduce cash and wrap real estate, and sell more products on the floor.
The problem is that the associates aren't using MPOS as intended, and AEO corporate wants to understand how to more effectively make use of the devices, since a lot of money has already been invested in distributing hundreds of them.
Our multi-component solution tackled the problem by focusing on the fitting room experience, which we found to be the highest point of influence for our customers. There, AEO can build the relationship between customers and associates while also converting browsers and second hand shoppers into buyers. We transformed the MPOS device into a tool that allows associates to help customers find the right products, prevents loss, and expediates the check out process.
FINAL SCREEN PROTOTYPES:
Fitting room tech for customers
AEO Stylist ipad tech
AEO On-floor associate ipod requests
How It All Works Together
A customer goes into a brick and mortar store to browse for things she likes or needs. After she picks out the items of clothing she wants to try on, she sees the clear signage near the fittingroom that instructs her to wait right there, and a trained sylist will help her soon. The stylist then brings her to the fittingroom, where all her items are automatically detected in the room via RFID sensors. The items show up on the fittingroom tech, as well as on the MPOS ipad of her stylist. Her shopper history, tried on items, and favorited items help inform her stylist of this shopper's personal style, and suggest items that would go well with the items currently in her fittingroom, or sugsgest alternative items to the ones the customer doesn't like as much. While in the fittingroom, the shopper realizes she wants a slightly smaller size of jeans, and requests it directly from the fittingroom. Any on-floor associate is able to then bring the item to the fittingroom, increasing efficiency in the process while keeping the sytlist's expertise where it's most needed. When the shopper is ready to check out, the RFID enabled MPOS checkout stations enable fast and easy check out, and the shopper leaves as a satisfied and loyal customer.
UNDERSTANDING THE STORE, MPOS, CUSTOMERS, & ASSOCIATES
To design for the space, we had to first understand how the store operated, the goals and behaviors of the shoppers and associates, and why MPOS is not currently used. My partner Jake Scherlis & I went to the Robinson Mall American Eagle and acted as pretend shoppers while noting our surroundings and our associate with associates. We also did employee and shopper shadowing and interviews. We gathered insights about the pros and cons of the MPOS system, as well as insights about the behaviors for both customers and associates during a peak store time.
Initial Research Key Findings:
- Room 1 coverage is necessary, & influences how associates are allocated
- The necessary check out materials don't come with the MPOS device, which also has internet/login issues
- Rewards card ask is very important - signing up means more return customers, but it can't be done on MPOS
- Nobody knew about the stylists / jean experts, & only 1 person knew about the AEO mobile app
- Customers mostly ask for help getting a different size or fitting rooms
- AEO's jeans, comfortable fit, and style are what attracts customers
Mapping Research Findings
Our research yielded a concept map, a customer journey map (based on the type of shopper they were), and an associate experience map.
- While the journey of the customer was linear, the associate's day is very much variable, having to do multiple tasks and help multiple people at once
- AEO Wants to increase sales, but pushing unsuited items will result in returns & lower customer satisfaction
- People who used the fitting room & people who were assisted are more likely to purchase
To sucessfully incorporate MPOS into the shopping journey, we needed to dive deeper and experience the process for ourselves.
MPOS Research and Testing
The Brick and Mortar Advantage
We wanted to get a deeper understanding of what benefits are offered through a brick & mortar store that shopping online doesn't afford the customers. What keeps them coming back? To successfully integrate both the distributed tech and the existing brick and mortar store infrastructure, we considered what humans do well versus what technology does well.
Because people who try on more items are more likely to buy products, we wanted to focus in on the highest point of influence, when they're trying on and assessing the clothing items. I did more in depth fitting room research by observing stylist and customer interactions, speaking with the different stylists and customers about their experiences and reactions to the prototype.
- Stylists sometimes have to leave their zone to find items, when other associates can also do that task so that the stylists can fully use their expertise at the fittingroom
- Stylists want to be recognized for all the sales they push & pride themselves in bringing back loyal customers
- If the stylist doesn't suggest the right alternative for a customer's unwanted items, it's a lost sale
- By using shopper behavior & historu, AEO can make sure the suggestions taylored to personal taste & relevance