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Rebecca Minkoff is incredibly popular in San Francisco. You can't walk down the street without spotting a girl carrying one of her Mini-M.A.C. crossbody bags. People queue up hours in advance of her sample sales. The brand is cool, and Minkoff's first store in the city will be successful because San Francisco women like the products. The company could throw a few bags and garments in an empty space, and everyone would freak out because OMG! We got a Rebecca Minkoff! Instead, they spent months developing a smart store concept with eBay that integrates online and offline shopping. Racked got a preview of what's to come this week, and —despite our previous skepticism— we were seriously impressed.
"We wanted to blend the best of e-commerce with brick and mortar. We didn't feel like anyone had taken that experience and done it so it wasn't in your face," Rebecca tells Racked. According Uri Minkoff —Rebecca's brother and the company's CEO— the solution turned on adding the customer's phone into the equation. "This female millennial consumer is so fast, she's so educated. With the power of [her phone], she has so many things under her control. So we said, what would a retail store look like if it was at her speed? Because there have been no real advances in retail since the Apple stores."
For the tech-savvy customer, the experience begins with touchscreen panels. Shoppers can use those panels to view key looks from the current collection, select items for their in-store dressing room, or even order complimentary beverages. Enter your phone number on the screen, and you'll receive a text when your dressing room (or drink) is ready.
The dressing rooms are also tech-integrated. (Don't worry; there aren't any cameras.) Customers activate touchscreen mirrors by entering the room. Thanks to RFID tags on the merchandise, you'll see a list of the exact items and sizes you have on your mirror. If you need a different size or color, just tap the mirror to request a sales associate. (Because everything in the store has an RFID tag, there's no awkward, "let me check if we have another one." The smart store knows exactly what's in the store.) Want to see how your look would look in different lighting? The mirror can hook you up. If the item you want isn't available in the store, you can order it online using —what else?— the mirror.
When it's time to leave the fitting room, there are more surprises. You can pay through PayPal —this is an eBay-powered design, after all— without ever pulling out a credit card, you can resort to the (now) standard iPad/credit card swipe combo, or you can use cash. Even better: If you like what you tried, but you don't want to make a purchase, you can save a list of the items you liked and think about them later. To see all the features in action, check out this video.
So Rebecca Minkoff and eBay set out to evolve the brick and mortar store concept? Mission accomplished. Though the opening has been pushed back to December, this smart, new design is worth the wait.