Rent the Runway taps kiosks, scanners to boost in-store digital experience

| by Judy Mottl
Rent the Runway taps kiosks, scanners to boost in-store digital experience

Photo courtesy of Rent the Runway.

Editor's Note: This article originally ran in Retail Customer Experience, a sister publication of Kiosk Marketplace.

In a quest to make the in-store customer experience seamless, more efficient and rewarding, Rent the Runway is tapping iOS-based scanners and kiosks to foster a more personalized consumer interaction.

The fashion rental company has deployed Aila Technologies' devices to rethink how consumers' closets should work and speed up returns and exchanges at its retail locations. It's also helping the 9-year-old company better manage 450,000 pieces of designer fashion and collect data on users' interaction — making for a more efficient operation and a better customer experience.

Using the Aila interactive kiosks, featuring TrueScan technology, customers can quickly pick up and drop off orders and exchange clothing on the spot at the company's New York City flagship store as well as stores in Chicago, San Francisco, Topanga, California and Washington. D.C. Customers and associates can scan the tiny labels on Rent the Runway products quickly, easily and accurately.

Rent the Runway, which has raised over $190 million in venture capital support, offers its 8 million clients access to a "closet in the cloud" via two subscription plans and on-demand rentals. Aila's iOS-based kiosks and devices rely on proprietary technology that combines integrated scanning technology with sleek, store-ready design. Its devices can be used in a wide range of in-store operations, from price checking and custom ordering to point-of-sale transactions.

The goal with the Aila technology, according to Rent the Runway, is to ensure that as the company expands, the customer experience doesn't suffer. It chose Aila after researching potential solutions. Traditional scanning devices and systems are often difficult and slow for customer use and are bulky and unappealing in design.

"We knew we wanted to develop our own software on iPads since we already have teams internally that are very familiar with working with that technology," Hampton Catlin, Rent the Runways' senior director of engineering, told Retail Customer Experience in an email interview.

"The only way to integrate fully with our systems and, more importantly, ensure a consistent and enjoyable user experience was to build the software ourselves. We needed hardware that would be seamless, sexy and easy to maintain. We knew our customers needed to scan very tiny barcodes and we needed hardware that could make that super easy."

Rent the Runway initially bought Aila demo units and had an early system running on its hardware to test in stores.

"We deployed the demo units into our flagship store and the customer response was immediate and dramatic. The units looked great and functioned well. So, we immediately got on the phone and ordered units for all of our stores," said Catlin.

The engineering lead advises retailers to continue to build out internal developer teams or build long lasting relationships with partners when it comes to innovating on the customer experience.

"These days, every single company is a technology company — nothing is left untouched. And, if you don't get the internal experience and aptitude to work on your own software and customized experienced for your customer, then the competition will," said Catlin.

Rent the Runway's success with Aila technology is already proven to be a big return on investment.

"Scan speed is a big deal for us, and it has allowed us to dramatically increase the speed at which customers transact with us in stores," said Catlin.


Topics: Customer Experience, Manufacturers, Retail



Judy Mottl

Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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