Tulip Retail, provider of a mobile app platform for use by store associates, has partnered with True Fit, developer of a personalization platform for footwear and apparel retailers, to deliver new personalization capabilities to initially be piloted at Kate Spade stores later this year.
Tulip’s technology allows store associates real-time access to product information, customer reviews, manufacturers notes and rich media that helps them communicate more comprehensive product information to customers. It also gives associates access to customer profiles, order history and inventory availability. Integrating with True Fit will allow associates using Tulip to present customers with personally curated catalogs of items, including details like how well items will fit.
The integration with Tulip marks the first time True Fit’s online technology for enabling personal style, fit and size recommendations will be put in the hands of brick-and-mortar sales associates. True Fit’s capabilities have been adopted online by more than 35 million users, and is growing at a rate of about 2 million users per month.
In announcing this integration, the companies noted that more than 80% of purchases in the $2 trillion global apparel and footwear market still occur in stores. Yet the companies noted 67% of in-store purchases are "web-influenced," meaning more and more consumers are consulting digital content like online reviews by other customers or maybe even recommendations they might see on the web sites of certain e-commerce giants before they head out to ye olde brick-and-mortar store.
So, yeah, ironically, bringing e-commerce technology innovations into brick-and-mortar stores is starting to look like one of the best ways of saving brick-and-mortar stores from the business threat of e-commerce sites that pioneered those very same innovations.
The announcement of Tulip's partnership with True Fit follows by mere days the release of results from a Tulip survey that zeroed in on the need to better equip store associates with tools and information that would be more relevant to individual shoppers. That survey suggested that 83% of shoppers believe they knew more than store associates, but maybe those findings aren't so much a comment on what store associates lack in knowledge, but perhaps more of a comment on what sort of knowledge customers bring into stores with them — the knowledge of what they like and don't like. Giving store associates tools for enabling a more personalized experience just might be enough to bridge the knowledge gap customers feel exists.
Of course, the Kate Spade pilot will be a critical proving ground for this technology integration and the theories supporting it. That pilot should start around the middle of this year, the companies said. True Fit's recommendations approach is a good fit for an apparel retailer like Kate Spade, and if the pilot goes well enough, Tulip may want to start thinking about how it gets similar personalization capabilities into the hands of store associates at other types of retailers. Maybe more partnerships are in store.