Retailers Use Technology to Get a Leg Up With Customers

The Robin ReportToday, there is a seismic shift in consumer behavior affecting the retail world—and it’s being driven by technology. Likewise, retailers’ success hinges on an organizational ability to quickly adapt to, and actively integrate these new technologies as they infiltrate the marketplace. With brick-and-mortar retailers at risk of marginalization at the hands of “showrooming” consumers, or those who intend to purchase the merchandise for the best price online, there is no doubt that retailers feel the pressure to enhance their in-store experiences and keep the online sale in their own ecosystem. Here are some technology trends that retailers are adopting to engage the increasingly fickle customer: [Read more…]

Finding the Best Fit: The Modern Woman’s Solution

PrintMe-Ality™ Market Insights from Unique Solutions

Women are clearly leading the way to the future. With more and more women holding significant positions in today’s workforce, it’s no secret that professional parity continues to improve. According to a recent Pew Research report, women made up almost half of the workforce in 2009. Furthermore, in terms of education, women earn more bachelor’s (57.2%), master’s (60.4%), and doctoral degrees (52.3%) than men, and just fewer than half (49.0%) of all first professional degrees. (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010)

It’s also no secret that today’s “Wonder Woman” wears many hats for many different roles: working professional, supportive partner, caregiver, and primary shopper—just to name a few.

Today’s Modern Woman is a multi-tasking, working mother. According to the Department for Professional Employees (2008), 71.2% of women in the overall labor force had children under the age of 18. Many of these women are single mothers as well. Even in households with two caregivers, recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012) found that housework duties still fall predominantly to women. Moreover, 74.9% of women identified themselves as the primary shoppers for their households in 2011, according to the annual MRI Survey of the American Consumer.

But it’s not all on equal footing at home. Despite overcoming obstacles to achieve professional equality with their male counterparts, domestic traditions for women such as household shopping still persists in today’s society. [Read more…]

Measure Once, Buy Twice – Solving the Elusive Male Market

The Robin Report - Unique SolutionsWhile it’s no secret that when it comes to the brick-and- mortar world of retail apparel, the old rule of “men buy, women shop” is as true today as it has been from the beginning of the retail experience itself. Researchers at Wharton and Toronto’s Verde Group observe that women see in-store shopping as a social opportunity and spend vast amounts of time interacting with sales associates and browsing, while men see it as a tactical chore and are in and out of the store ASAP, and see it as a kind of slow torture.

Despite every kind of marketing approach to change the purchasing habits of men and increase the time spent in-store, demographics for the male shopper have seen very little change and remain a point of frustration among retailers.

Enter “intelligent shopping”—one company’s solution to the mysterious male shopper and returning some parity back into the sales-to-the-sexes imbalance. Me-Ality by Unique Solutions has quietly and quickly moved digital size matching stations into a growing number of malls across the US and created an impressive array of nearly 100 apparel retailer partnerships. Although the brand retail partners all share a common affiliation with the company, each retailer is aggressively competing for purchase space where men have taken a surprising leadership position: online. [Read more…]

Exploding the “Fit” in Corporate Culture Makes the Impossible, Possible!

An interview with Tanya Shaw, Founder and CEO, Unique Solutions and Judi Richardson, Executive Vice President of Corporate Culture, Professional Development and Quality Assurance

Robin Report: Tanya, you are in the midst of rapid growth as a company – increasing staff by 1000% in a year, and have moved from one location to 65 in nine months, to over 200 by the end of this year. What has your corporate culture strategy been through the past year?

Tanya Shaw: You hear stories of small companies growing too fast — I knew we needed the right people in place to lead key pieces of our tremendous growth. The foundation for that team’s success is to create the right corporate culture to reach short-term targets and long-term vision. And we feel we have a unique and transformative strategy.

Judi has been critical in helping to build our corporate culture. Working together, we have developed our philosophy— not about seeing people as a fixed cost — but rather, harnessing and maximizing human creative potential to add value and create a meaningful new corporate culture model. True collaboration is about actively creating relationships; inviting people to move from a single vision to shared vision; and recognizing and encouraging each individual’s constructive contribution.

RR: Judi, what is Tanya onto here? Why is corporate culture so crucial to the success of Me-Ality’s rapid growth?

Judi Richardson: We read everywhere about the importance of culture; for Me-Ality, I see it as “leaderfull” mindset working together to create the environment for executing strategy with focus, agility and innovation. We work smart to increase the quality of awareness as well as conscious intention — and what I call transformative momentum — while always ensuring alignment with our corporate imperative. [Read more…]

When “Like Us” Doesn’t Equal Buy From Us (and What to Do About It)

The Robin Report - Like UsEveryone wants to take advantage of the new marketing channel social media offers. The idea that we can drive sales to our storefront or website by being friendly, talking about ourselves, and engaging with our fans is an appealing and intoxicating one. We can offer some coupons, promote our specials and sales, and people will be flocking to our stores.Give us a “thumbs up” on our Facebook fan page, a friendly tweet on Twitter, a share of our blog post, and we are bound for social media success, right?

As it turns out, the answer is no.

You don’t have to spend much time on social media before you start to see the difference between a “like” on Facebook, for example, and an ultimate sale. The metrics can be tricky to track. The types of customers happy to like your page if you give them a free gift via a contest are not necessarily interested in actually buying your product. In the end, having more fans and followers does not guarantee increased sales. There is no magic wand.

What does help increase sales from your social media campaigns? The short answer is an integrated approach based on how your customers actually decide to buy.

The longer answer requires you to understand your processes, personify your value proposition fully, and interface with customers in ways that they appreciate and prefer. The work is hard but it’s worth doing. [Read more…]

The Secret is in the Data: Delivering What Customers Need & Desire

The secret to the success of most businesses can be found in the wisdom of one of the most successful retailers of all time — the legendary Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds. He described his business and its success several years ago with the philosophy that guided his life. He noted that his business was “to serve the needs and desires of our core customer base.”

Serving customer needs is much more complicated today. There is greater competition than ever before. Today, we also have consumers who know that they can demand more value and they are getting what they demand. Fortunately, we also have technology that is giving businesses – particularly retailers – the tools to meet this demanding environment.

The collection and analysis of customer data has been the cornerstone of the marketing concept and selling things that people need. Market research programs have become a common tool for most companies seeking to understand what consumers want. The problem with this kind of data is that it is at best an aggregate snapshot of a group or groups of people. Understanding the requirements of a specific individual was rarely a possibility within the execution of a typical market research study. Technology, however, has altered our ability to understand individual consumers. It has allowed us to make predictions and suggestions based on individuals rather than groups of individuals. [Read more…]

Unique Solutions

meality_logoUnique Solutions has been leading a revolution in personalized shopping since 1994. Originally founded to provide custom sewing patterns tailored to fit its customers’ individual measurements, the company has been on the cutting edge of 3-D body imaging and data capture for more than a decade. We hold the largest database of body measurements that reflect the true size and shape of today’s consumer.

Focusing on size and fit issues, as they affect individual consumers, the company has been steadily expanding its base of products and services so that people of all shapes and sizes could experience the comfort of products that truly fit their bodies.

In 2002, Unique Solutions introduced the proprietary UniqueScan body scanning system (now known as the Intellifit® Plus) using white light technology. In addition to over 200,000 points of body measurement, the Intellifit Plus can report BMI, height, weight, and health risk factors.

In 2009, Unique Solutions Design Ltd, acquired Pennsylvania based competitor, Intellifit Corporation. The Intellift body measurement system uses radio wave technology and is the only system capable of scanning a clothed body. We have applied our proprietary software and upgraded the technology and can now offer consumers the ability to quickly determine their exact body measurements and be matched to apparel that fits, without having to remove their clothing.

There is no sizing standard in the apparel industry, and guessing the right size has been a source of frustration for customers. Consumer research confirms that not knowing what size they need is the biggest barrier to internet apparel sales and for trying new brands. The Me-Ality shopping service will revolutionize both brick-and-mortar and online shopping by increasing sales and eliminating costly returns.

With the launch of Me-Ality in King of Prussia Mall – the largest retail shopping mall in the U.S. – Unique Solutions is utilizing body scanning technology to help consumers find their best fitting and most flattering styles from hundreds of brand name apparel lines.

As one of the largest resources for body/size/shape measurement data, Unique Solutions works with apparel and product manufacturers to develop size and fit solutions for their goods. We are changing the way clothes are sold – with a focus on fit, flatter, comfort, and performance.


If The Clothes Fit…The Topline Grows

Me-Ality™ Market Insights From Unique Solutions

Who isn’t turning over every rock these days looking for growth opportunities? Apparel brands, with their almost obsessive focus on style, cost and value, might actually be overlooking one of the most important factors in the purchase equation: Fit.

Me-Ality™ 3D body scanners, which will begin rolling out to 300 US shopping centers later this year, have already begun to revolutionize the way consumers shop for apparel. After a 10-second fully-dressed scan, shoppers receive a customized, personalized shopping guide matching them with the styles and sizes of partner brand products in the mall that will fit them and their budgets. For the consumer, it means more productive and rewarding shopping trips, increasing the likelihood they’ll come back. For retailers, it brings a new and loyal customer base to their stores, increased sales, and fewer returns.

But wait, there’s more: In the process of scanning hundreds of thousands of consumers, Me-Ality realized it was collecting invaluable consumer data that could be used to help brands do everything from enhance their product development process to launch new businesses.

Read on to find out how one company added an inch…and in the process, grew its customer base by double digits. [Read more…]