Though the world of fashion is trying desperately to catch up to the digital age, retail is still fundamentally unchanged. Oak Labs is looking to shake things up with a smart mirror to be placed in the fitting room of clothing stores and boutiques.
The company just raised $4.1 million in seed funding led by Wing Venture Capital, and is piloting the software with Ralph Lauren in its Polo NYC flagship store on Fifth Avenue.
But what is a smart mirror?
Instead of focusing on the virtual try-on, which may indeed come later for Oak Labs, the current model focuses on an enhanced shopping experience that doesn’t leave you calling for the associate (whose name you can’t remember) for another size or another reassuring compliment.
To start, when a customer brings an item in the fitting room, the Oak Labs mirror detects which item is in-hand through RFID tags and that piece is shown immediately on the mirror. The display shows details about the item, alongside the ability to request different colors of the item or a different size.
But it goes beyond that. Each item in the Oak Labs mirror comes with its own stylist recommendations that include other items in the store, with Oak Labs hoping you’ll buy more when you’re in control of your own shopping experience.
Users that find themselves in an Oak Labs-enabled fitting room will be able to control the lighting of the room to check out their outfit, ranging from bright natural light to sunset to a club setting.
Of course, robots can’t do everything, which is why Oak Labs has also set up functionality to request an associate. These employees have their own version of the app on an iPad and can see incoming requests for different sizes, colors, or for themselves if a customer has a more detailed question.
And because the only thing worse than an abandoned shopping cart is an abandoned fitting room, Oak Labs has built out the ability for users to send themselves a summary of their fitting room items as a text message to their phone.
Oak Labs also offers language support for Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Italian.
“Tech companies, especially today, have a tendency to gravitate towards what is easy, which is why almost all consumers are in the ‘app fatigue’ zone,” said cofounder and CEO Healey Cypher . “Building new form factors, in retail nonetheless, is very challenging. We are making modular hardware, software that’s living and breathing, and working in brick-and-mortar, which presents a new host of challenges – from associate adoption to infrastructural dependency.”
That said, the company has a massive $4.1 million seed round to help it solve those challenges, as well as a strong initial retail partner in Ralph Lauren.
Speaking of, Oak Labs isn’t just enhancing the experience for the consumer. Retailers using the technology will get all kinds of new data on their customers, including specific info around fitting room sessions (volume, duration, and conversion). Plus, they’ll be able to see which SKUs are most popular.
Oak Labs charges a one-time fee for the hardware, with recurring monthly licensing fees for the software, though the company wouldn’t disclose exact figures.
You can check out Oak Labs for yourself right here.