If you want to get dolled up, who better to give you advice than the store mannequin? Three shops in the UK are trialing a system in which store dummies send messages to people via their mobile devices.
While they haven’t quite gotten the hang of Grindr yet, they will be sending customers alerts with details of what they are wearing. These could include the prices of their clothes and accessories, links to the items on the retailer’s website, as well as where they can be found in-store.
The mannequins will be wearing this season’s latest accessory, the VMBeacon. Created by technology and design company Iconeme, the beacons sense when a shopper with an enabled smartphone app is within a 50m radius both inside and outside the store. It transmits an automatic alert to the customer, which is programmed by the retailer and sent via a secure web portal.
The app invites users to view more detailed photos and product descriptions, share them with friends, save looks for later and access additional offers and rewards.
Mannequins must be earning a lot of overtime because they send messages twenty four hours a day, even when the store is closed. This brings another dimension to window shopping and could be helpful if you spot something you like after closing hours but need more information in order to make a purchase.
The Internet of Things and beacon technology has been gaining momentum over the last few years but we are yet to see its practical and widespread use in retail outlets. 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.
The smart dummies are being trialled in House of Fraser’s Online Store in Aberdeen, which is a bricks and mortar store, Hawes & Curtis in London; and Bentalls in Kingston upon Thames. To interact with the mannequins, customers must sign up for the app on an iOS or Android smartphone.
From a retailer’s point of view, being able to interact directly with customers on mobiles is priceless. Beacon technology turns store props into smart devices that can promote their products and potentially turn passers-by into customers. Stores could also benefit from the information gathered on customers to understand their consumers better.
For consumers, alongside the novelty value of receiving messages from mannequins, this service could be very useful. Instead of having to search the store for an item you see in the window, the information will come straight to the user. It promises to offer the convenience of online shopping combined with the benefits of an in-store experience.
If the trial proves successful, the VMBeacon could soon become a mannequin’s must-have accessory.