House of Fraser in Aberdeen and Hawes & Curtis in London are among the first shops to start using beacon technology
A handful of British high street shops – including House of Fraser in Aberdeen, Hawes & Curtis in London, and Bentalls in Kingston upon Thames – have begun using high-tech mannequins that beam information about the clothes on display to customers’ smartphones.
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 50m range of the beacon, 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 a retail environment.
The so-called VMBeacon, developed by technology and design company Iconeme, operates 24 hours a day, allowing retailers to engage with customers even if an outlet is closed, with the shop window becoming a constant interactive selling point.
Retailers can get feedback on shopper details such as age and gender, their location, what outfit was viewed and whether a purchase was made online. However, shoppers have the ability to choose which of their details are made available via their own privacy settings.
“We are always looking at ways to integrate new and innovative technology to help maximise customer shopping experiences,” said Andy Harding, executive director for multi-channel at House of Fraser.
“With such demand from mobile devices, it’s important we continue to bring new technology to our stores, and believe that the Iconeme App provides retailers with an opportunity to really engage with their customers.”
Edward Smith, Brand Manager of Hawes & Curtis, added that the app gives retailers a better understanding of the impact window displays are having on passers-by, adding: “It’s a complete game-changer for the retail industry and we’re delighted to be in it from the start.”
The Iconeme app is available for free for iOS and Android. Iconeme plans to roll out the technology to more stores in the UK and US in the near future.