The fashion set is used to royal treatment at Prada's clothing boutiques. But the Milan-based designer wanted its new store in New York to top its own high standards. The answer: $20 million in Web technology, starting in mid-March.
QUALITY TIME WITH CUSTOMERS
Challenge: If a dress isn't on display, salespeople dash to the stockroom to find it. That leaves customers stranded, risking a lost sale.
Solution: The Staff Device, a wireless computer that provides data on what's in stock.
Expected payoff: Salespeople spend less time saying, "Let me check that," and more time saying, "That looks fabulous on you--and we have matching shoes, too!"
DRESSING UP THE DRESSING ROOM
Challenge: Make the dressing room dazzling, which serves as a sales aid.
Solution: When entering the dressing room, a digital tag on every garment is scanned and the data stored. Customers can touch a screen for info about the garment and accessories.
Expected payoff: Clients spend more. When a customer likes a particular cotton blouse, she can learn it's available in silk, too.
WHITE-GLOVE WEB TREATMENT
Challenge: Extend the in-store shopping experience to the Web without undermining Prada's signature high-touch service.
Solution: Store customers can save dressing room sessions online. From home, they can review items they tried on.
Expected payoff: Customers can e-mail a salesperson, and get quick answers--helping close sales they couldn't commit to in the store.