Interview with Matthew Cyr, CEO of Crave Retail

Delivering The Shopping Experience You Deserve

Why Smart Fitting Rooms Are So Important For Customer Experience

January 13 2022

Imagine if retailers were blind to what’s happening in online shoppers’ baskets. What if retailers didn’t know the items we were browsing, which items were popular, or what the conversion rates were from basket to sale? Nowadays, our online shopping journey is so thoroughly measured, that it sounds silly to even ask this question.  

Yet, this lack of knowledge is exactly what retailers are dealing with in their physical stores. “If you want to make sure that shoppers are having the very best brand experience from beginning to end, you have to capture what’s happening in your stores. Otherwise, you continue to operate within a major black box”, says Matthew Cyr, founder and CEO of Crave Retail. Crave Retail is a customer experience and insights platform, mostly known for its fitting room technology that allows shoppers inside a fitting room to interact with a digital display.  

Does this mean that the awkward (but unfortunately still too common) action of peeking out of a fitting room, half undressed, and asking for help is finally a thing of the past? Crave is on a mission to make that so.  

Matthew, you started Crave Retail three years ago. Why did you start this company?

“After ten years of operating different stores in different managerial roles, I found that a lot that we were doing inside the stores was based on gut feeling. There were very few KPI’s - foot traffic in the door and sales conversion being the most prominent - but the most important part happens in between those points. If we're only capturing what happens at the beginning of the store and the end of the store, then we're missing a lot of critical engagements. Some parts inside our stores are completely dark, such as the fitting room.”

“I wanted more ways to understand how our store is performing, from a customer engagement perspective. That’s why three years ago, I started Crave, as a way to give shoppers the experience they deserve. Not only do we give retailers a solution to this ‘black box problem’, but we also elevate the customer experience. And ever since it's been going incredibly well.”

Peeking out of a fitting room and saying, ‘hey, can someone help me?’ when you're half undressed, that isn’t comfortable for the majority of people, right?

Why do retailers need to work on their fitting room experience?  

“If you're visiting a fashion retailer today, especially in this Covid-era, you're there for one reason: to touch, feel, and try it on. Retailers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing, visual merchandising, staff training to eventually get that consumer all the way into a fitting room, undress and to say: ‘hey, I'm here to buy’. But in that moment, you offer the shopper no way to get help.”

“The action of peeking out of a fitting room and saying, ‘hey, can someone help me?’ when you're half undressed, that isn’t comfortable for the majority of people, right? I mean, no introvert is ever going to do that, let alone someone who has to say they need a different size. Yet we hope that they come out of that room and buy everything.”

How does Crave’s solution upgrade the fitting room experience?

“We leverage RFID technology throughout the fitting room. What this means is that we've got an RFID reader sitting behind the wall, blind to the customer’s eyes. Each of the garments has RFID labels in it, so as soon as they walk into a fitting room and hang up their items, we're automatically picking up those items. We display these items on a very simple to use interface: most of our stores are equipped with iPads, with cameras fully enclosed so it’s very secure.”

“Shoppers then interact with this display. You can learn more about your products, you can see outfit recommendations, but you can also see what size and colors are available in the store or even online. There's this big ‘bring me this item button’, where a sales associate gets a notification and will help you within a few seconds to get you what you need.”

“Most retailers are looking at Crave as a way to build brand loyalty, increase sales, and create better shopping experiences. Some retailers have been looking at Crave to reduce customer returns and even theft. If you think about it, the desire to steal diminishes if you walk into a room when you see all the products you have on a screen.”

What does the partnership with Nedap look like?

“When we started, we looked for RFID partners in the retail space. We came across Nedap in 2019. We saw a company that was very focused around developing really great customer experiences, one with very similar values to us.

Nedap is helping retailers create perfect inventory visibility and we are building this great fitting room experience. Together, I thought we could build something frictionless, harmonized and memorable in a really positive way for shoppers.”

“And ever since then, we’ve had the opportunity to work on a couple of retailers together. Our solution is integrated with iD Cloud Store. That means we’re not only sharing product master data with iD Cloud Store, but we also ensure that shoppers see the most up to date inventory from iD Cloud Store.”

Crave’s Fitting Room Solution at one of their customers.

“We also work with Nedap Harmony. This allows us to manage our deployments at scale worldwide very seamlessly. Even with all these RFID readers in different environments, we can do everything remotely from our desks, which is a time saver for us and makes it capital efficient for retailers.”

What can retailers expect when they use Crave’s fitting room solution?

“When you first start with Crave, we focus on three areas: First, getting more traffic into the fitting rooms. Secondly, getting more of the right products into each fitting room and lastly, we improve the service around the fitting room.”

We have to think about how inclusive we are as a company and embrace technology that will get shoppers the experience they deserve.

“If you do those three things, retailers are instantly seeing an increase in sales, in conversions and in basket size. These are some hard KPI’s that we focus on. However, we're seeing also a lot of joy and excitement from store operators about just being able to offer something different and special.”

“One example that I’m proud of happened at one of our customers, a lingerie retailer. A lady was shopping there. She has been a regular shopper at this store, but she always had to shop with her mother because she's deaf. So, her ability to interact with the staff has always been a challenge.”

“But during a recent visit, she got dropped off by her mother, leaving her to shop alone. She went into the fitting room, saw our technology and she was able to get the service as a normal shopper would as a result of our technology. The mother ended up calling the store and said, “my daughter had one of the best retail experiences she ever had in her life.” And to me that just spoke to what we've been trying to do. Retailers have to think about how inclusive they are as a company, and embrace technology that will get shoppers the experience they deserve.”

Co-founder and CEO of Crave Retail
Matthew Cyr

If you’d like to learn more about Crave’s Fitting Room solution, please contact Matthew Cyr through the buttons below.