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H&M Pilots new shopping tech in US stores

The integration of technology, fashion and retail continues at pace, with H&M the latest retailer to pilot incorporating exciting technology in the customer experience. Initially available at US COS retail outlets, the aim is to offer US shoppers a seamless payment experience, improved delivery and return options and personalised styling services.

That sounds like an impressive step forward for consumers in the US but what does this really mean? Does it mean a requirement for clothing photography professionals to alter their services?

Which stores will be piloting this new technology?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the start of this pilot will take place in Beverly Hills, at the COS store located there. It is interesting to note that this pilot is utilising H&M’s COS brand but the suggestion is that they will roll it out to more stores around the United States later in 2022 and this may include a mixture of COS and H&M branded stores.

What will be included in the technology?

One of the most eye-catching features of this new technology will be found in the fitting rooms at the Beverly Hills store. Each one will be equipped with a smart mirror that automatically recognises clothing products that have been taken into the fitting room. This will include details like the item itself, the size and the colour. It will then offer some personalised options and styling guidelines for customers to consider.

Away from the changing rooms, out on the shop floor, there will be similar smart mirrors that offer a virtual styling and try-on option. This means you no longer have to queue up for the fitting rooms just to see how something will look on you!

The improved payment solutions and delivery options are aimed at making the process more effective and more sustainable, a particular focus for fashion across the globe right now.

What are they saying about it?

For anyone working in the clothing photography sector, it is easy to appreciate the importance placed on customer engagement. At the heart of this is connecting with the customer on an emotional level and providing an experience that no others offer. Offering customers more creative and interactive experiences definitely have the potential to tick these boxes.
The senior leaders of H&M are certainly saying all the right things about testing out a personalised experience that makes H&M continue to drive innovation forward. However, this viewpoint must be tempered with the reminder that it is an incredibly small pilot and many out there will be wary of how effective the technology is at recognising items and showing genuinely helpful style tips.

Will this catch on and offer new opportunities for fashion photographers?

The reality is technology is being integrated with fashion all the time and pilots like this are nothing new. However, the focus on design, imagery and computer images could offer new opportunities for those working in clothing photography or ghost mannequin photography.

Retailers may want new types of images, more video or high-quality content, so it is certainly something to watch with interest.

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