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Bloomingdale’s Installs Denim Fit Stations

Shoppers enter a glass-enclosed cylinder where a large wand reads body moisture to collect data and link it to the denim data in the system.

Bloomingdale's has "size matching stations" that scan customers and recommend denim brands that best fit their body types.

Bloomingdale’s has installed Space Age podlike scanners on its denim floors that seem mysterious but have good intentions.

“Customers are curious for sure,” said Tanya Shaw, the chief executive officer of Me-Ality, the fit technology firm in Nova Scotia that developed the “size-matching station.”

The station measures 14 feet in diameter and 10 feet in height and is geared to help customers find the brands that fit best. Shoppers enter a glass-enclosed cylinder where a large wand takes about 20 seconds to rotate back and forth around the shopper, reading body moisture to collect data and link it to the denim data in the system. Then the device prints out product recommendations.

Bloomingdale’s has the scanner in five locations, including its 59th Street flagship. In shopping malls around the country, there are 65 Me-Ality stations in common areas. These stations have much larger databases, on average containing more than 150 brands and 8,500 styles across sportswear, dresses, jackets, men’s wear and intimate apparel.

But Bloomingdale’s is the first retailer to adopt the system. The company currently uses it just for premium denim and has loaded its version of the system with 16 brands and 83 styles from Joe’s Jeans, J Brand, Seven and Citizens of Humanity, among other brands. Shaw said Me-Ality formed “a partnership” with Bloomingdale’s where both firms share in the revenues and expenses. Me-Ality at Bloomingdale’s could focus on additional categories in the future.

In the past, retailers and malls have tested body scanners, though without much success. Shoppers just don’t want to be bothered in a lot of cases. But Shaw said, “One of the differentiators with Me-Ality is this is the only technology in the world that can scan your body while fully clothed. With every other type of scanner, you need to get undressed to your undergarments.” The station does require that big jewelry and leather boots be removed, and that before entering the device, you sign in with your name, e-mail, gender, ethnicity, age and country. The information is used by Me-Ality for marketing and e-mails, though Bloomingdale’s does not use the information.

“We have been interested in exploring fit technology and how it can improve the shopping experience for customers,” said Anne Bridges, Bloomingdale’s senior vice president, omnichannel technology and customer experience.

In addition to the Me-Ality technology, Bridges cited the denim fit guide on bloomingdales.com that’s being transitioned to certain Bloomingdale’s stores. Not long ago, there was window technology at the flagship where customers were photographed to receive recommendations on sunglass styles based on the shape of their heads. And iPads in Bloomingdale’s shoe departments give associates an edge in providing style and fit options.