High-tech mannequins launched to help shoppers
A new technology that enables store mannequins to transmit information about the clothes on display directly to shoppers' smartphones as they browse items in shop windows and in store has launched today.
The technology works using electronic 'beacons' that are installed directly into mannequins, which transmit information that has been programmed by the retailer via a web portal. When a customer with an enabled smartphone app is within a 100m range of the VMBeacon, they will receive an automatic alert about the content they can access.
This includes details about the clothes and accessories displayed, such as price and links to purchase the items directly from the retailer’s website, or where they can be found within the store. The customer can also see more detailed photos and descriptions of the products, save looks for later, share with friends and access additional offers and rewards.
Although beacon technology is already used in some public spaces such as museums and art galleries, to convey information about historical artefacts, this is the first time that it has been designed specifically for visual merchandising.
The so-called VMBeacon operates 24 hours a day, allowing high street retailers to engage with customers even if an outlet is closed, with the shop window becoming a constant interactive selling point. The retailer can choose what information is made available, and also has access to analytic reports to gain customer insight and help increase sales.
Reporting can include shopper details, such as age and gender, their location, what outfit was viewed and whether a purchase was made online. Shoppers have the ability to choose which of their details are made available, via their own privacy settings.
“A recent Google report revealed that 84 per cent of smartphone shoppers use their devices to help them browse while in a store,” said Jonathan Berlin, co-founder of Iconeme, the company that created VMBeacon.
“The technology we have developed aims to tap into this trend and offers real value to both retailers and consumers. Installing this technology in mannequins ensures it occupies a prime location and an ideal focus-point for shoppers, whether they are in the store itself or just passing by the window.”
Iconeme is currently in discussion with a number of high street retailers on rolling out the new technology. Berlin is also Managing Director of Universal Display, a mannequin company, which has worked with a range of high street retailers, including BHS, Monsoon, Harvey Nichols and Arcadia Group.
The Iconeme app will be available to download for both iOS and Android in the near future. Customers will either be able to use the Iconeme app itself or the technology can be integrated into a retailer’s existing app.