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mannequins

From Window Shopping To Retail Clicks: Mannequins With Beacon Tech Trialled In UK

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Mannequins that send details of the clothes they’re displaying to nearby shoppers’ phones are being trialled in three UK brick-and-mortar stores.

We covered the underlying VMBeacon tech earlier this year, which combines a low-powered indoor transmitter Bluetooth beacon with shop mannequins or other visual merchandise — with the aim of turning window shopping into retail clicks.

The system also offers retailers a way to gain analytics on their window displays — by generating reports on customer in-app engagement with display items, although users of the Iconeme app can choose which of their details (age, gender, location) to share with shops.

The startup behind the VMBeacon, Iconeme, has now kicked off the first trial of its tech in the wild. The UK shops participating in the trial are House of Fraser’s Online Store in Aberdeen (which, despite the name, is a physical retail store); Hawes & Curtis in London; and Bentalls in Kingston upon Thames. Iconeme said further stores will be announced soon — with retail partnerships focused for now on the UK and the US.

The main barrier to entry for Iconeme’s system is that the user needs to be using the companion  app (iOS or Android) in order to be sent window display information. So it’s opt in marketing — which will limit uptake but at least avoids the risk of feeling too spammy.

Info is fired out to app users as an automatic alert when they come within a 50 meter range of a VMBeacon enabled mannequin. Details sent can include info on the clothes and accessories displayed such as price and links to purchase items directly from the retailer’s website, and where they can be found within the store. The app also lets shoppers view more detailed photos and product descriptions, save looks for later, share with friends and access additional offers and rewards.

A recent ABI Research report predicts that in five years’ time the Bluetooth beacon device market will be some 60-million units strong. The early focus for the low power transmitter tech has been on linking retail environments with nearby shoppers via the medium of their smartphones — opening up a local mobile marketing channel.