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How Macy’s could make mobile shopping more intimate with on-demand tailoring

Macy’s is merging in-store service with online convenience by partnering with zTailors, an on-demand alterations network that will allow customers to have a personal tailor at their doorstep with the tap of a button.

The department store chain and its upscale sister chain, Bloomingdale’s, are piloting the on-demand digital tailor network for customers in the Los Angeles area, with additional pilots to begin this month in New York, San Diego and San Francisco and the states of Washington, Oregon and Florida. The move continues Macy’s aggressive moves into mobile, which include embracing image recognition, beacons, mobile payments and event-driven mobile commerce, partly to challenge Amazon’s dominance in the ecommerce space.

“In general, zTailors is part of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s omnichannel strategy, which is designed to help customers shop whenever, wherever and however they prefer,” said Jim Sluzewski, a spokesman for Macy’s.

“We have taken many steps to help bring the advantages of stores online, and the advantages of one shopping into the stores,” he said. “We aim to provide customers a seamless experience.”

Designated area
While there is every expectation that Macy’s will provide the service to customers on mobile, given the chain’s mobile strategy and zTailors’ own description of its service as available to both smartphone and computer users, that availability was not confirmed.

The service run by Men’s Wearhouse founder George Zimmer will be expanded into additional markets this summer and be available nationwide by early fall 2015.

Bringing on-demand service to customers on mobile. 

Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are the exclusive department store partners with zTailors.

When making an online purchase of a garment that may require alteration,  such as a dress, suit, dress shirt, jacket, blazer, coat or jeans, customers who live or work in a designated service area can click to request tailoring and book an experienced, pre-qualified tailor in their area.

Once the item purchased online is delivered to the customer, the tailor visits the customer’s home or office for a fitting and wardrobe consultation.

Within a week or less, the tailor performs the alteration and delivers the item back to the customer.

The charge, which varies by type of service, is similar to the rates for alterations in a Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s store.

Once the altered item is returned by the tailor, the customer tries on the garment. Any re-dos are complimentary.

All zTailors undergo a screening and certification process, to ensure customers receive service from trained and experienced professionals, according to a Macy’s news release.

Macy’s move fits with the migration toward an on-demand economy driven by the perceived ability to get anything anytime on mobile.

“Mobile is driving the on-demand economy and with the simple tap of a button, Macy’s customers can have a personal tailor at their doorstep,” said Dirk Rients, founder and CEO of Mobile Ventures. “Today consumers have plenty of choices.”

The partnership takes the shopping experience a step further and provides an added incentive to shop at Macy’s.

“This is a great example of how bricks-and-mortar retailers are moving the warmth of the store to the cloud,” said Gary Schwartz, CEO with Impact Mobile, Toronto.

“Uber, Instacart and Airbnb all are showing the market that digital services are in many ways more intimate and engaging than the dusty cab, grocery or hotel.

“Macy’s is showing that they too can provide an enhanced store-in-the-cloud experience,” he said.

Last year, Macy’s became the latest retailer to fire back at Amazon with its own image recognition mobile application designed to simplify searching for items on its ecommerce site by submitting a photo of an item from daily life.

By enabling app users to simply snap a photo of an item of interest with their smartphones and easily search for and purchase a similar item on, the retailer took impulse buying to new heights.

Macy’s has introduced or expanded a host of omnichannel capabilities, including several that underscore mobile’s crucial role in helping the retailer attain its goals, such as crowdsourced same-day delivery, a broad expansion of iBeacon messaging and smart fitting rooms.

Providing a home tailor solution is evidence of the importance of ecommerce to a bricks-and-mortar retail brand.

“By merging store shopping experience and service with convenience and instant gratification of online, the entire shopping experience is now complete online and now accomplished in the convenience of home,” said Matt Ramerman, manager director of Vehicle, Seattle, WA.

On-demand economy
Traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers are being driven to new levels of innovation in order to combat ecommerce players’ movement into the space. Amazon is now providing same day service, driving ecommerce convenience to new levels.

Personalizing service via digital.

“Elevating home services such as providing tailor services at home are now imperative to survival for bricks-and-mortar to elevate ecommerce experience,” Mr. Ramerman said.

Soft-line retailers have had a more difficult time penetrating ecommerce at scale due to customer concerns about the fit of the garment and – even with free shipping returns – the possibility of going without the new outfit.

“By ensuring no matter what, the garment will fit me, not only eliminates the objection but ultimately provides a higher level of service not seen in an ecommerce play,” Mr. Ramerman said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York