Neiman Marcus Group Inc., the high-end retail chain that is No. 41 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, has deployed technology called “Memory Mirror” that enables shoppers to digitally compare outfits and send those images to friends via e-mail and social media.
The chain has already installed the device in its Walnut Creek, CA, store, with “other rollouts scheduled later this month,” Neiman Marcus says. The technology comes from 2-year-old Silicon Valley-based company MemoMi; its founder and CEO, Salvador Nissi Vilcovsky, says he is working to deploy similar technology to “some of the largest brands in the world, including two of the five largest clothing brands,” though he declines to be more specific.
Neiman Marcus, like potential future retail clients, has put its Memory Mirror in a public area, not a dressing room. That’s because the device is a large screen with a camera pointed at the shopper. “We will offer a camera-less version that will allow you to browse and see your try-ons, virtualize them and share inside the fitting room, but never with a camera,” Vilcovsky says.
Here’s how the Memory Mirror works, taken from information provided by MemoMi and a video that shows the technology in action: Its camera and software “captures” a 360-degree view of a shopper in an outfit and the images can include the shopper in motion. Using hand gestures—the gestures in the video linked above vaguely recall how soldiers on patrol communicate without talking but through crisp movements of hands and fingers—the shopper can browse outfits already tried on and captured, sift through various views and angles, and otherwise compare potential purchases. The Memory Mirror also enables those shoppers to post images and “try-on videos” to social media, share via e-mail and save to mobile devices. The idea is to save the shoppers from repeatedly having to try on the same outfits in order to make a decision about what looks best and what to buy.
Retail clients also gain benefits from the technology, MemoMi says. Data from Memory Mirror sessions can help retailers not only better understand which styles appeal to shoppers but enable merchants to craft product recommendations or offer relevant coupons for items tried on but not bought. (Shoppers using the technology decide whether to share such information as gender, age and body type.) In addition, “sales associates are able to take video or still images of merchandise on a model or a hanger and send it to customers with their permission,” says a spokeswoman for Neiman Marcus.
Neither Vilcovsky nor Neiman Marcus would provide details about the cost of the technology.
The deployment of the Memory Mirror technology is the latest of several e-commerce initiatives for Neiman Marcus. It has, for instance, given sales associates iPhones with a customized mobile app that provides information on a customer’s shopping history. Also last year, the retailer added a feature to its mobile app called “Snap. Find. Shop.” The feature allows a customer to take a picture of an item she likes and buy it right away. The company uses image-recognition software developer Slyce to provide the 3-D visual search technology that enables the shopper to take a picture of a shoe or a handbag and provide her several similar options that she can purchase right away.