DKNY shoppers go product hunting with new tech

DKNY is partnering with Awear Solutions to test a new interactive tool that lets shoppers authenticate, locate and buy items in stores.

Awear embeds a chip into items within the store and works in conjunction with a mobile app that informs shoppers of its exact location. The goal is precision and accuracy, a departure from programs that suggest or display similar items and get in the way of shoppers finding exactly what they want.

The dime-sized chip provides browsers with item identification from 30 feet away. Users can scan for, and then price the item, see additional colors and sizes and availability for purchase. The hardware is washing machine safe and transmits for up to five years, according to Women's Wear Daily.

Tel-Aviv, Israel-based Awear, told WWD the technology will help facilitate information gathering and impulse buys, but also has applications for retailers. A luxury brand such as DKNY could use the chips to authenticate items and discourage knockoffs, monitor an item's popularity and identify influencers.

Should a specific pair of shoes scanned and bought by a now-identified shopper start selling fast, the retailer or brand can see who is driving that influence, creating a marketing opportunity and signaling a need for more inventory.

Awear co-founder Liron Slonimsky is shopping the technology, forming partnerships and collecting seed money.

DKNY will be the first to test the technology at an event on April 21, at the brand's Madison Avenue flagship store. Event attendees can download Awear Solutions' app and participate in a shopper's version of an egg hunt.

Twenty products will be chipped, including apparel, shoes and accessories. Users select an "egg," get color cues on screen (hot and cold) to indicate proximity as the player moves through the store. Once found, the app displays product details.

But while an Easter egg hunt, virtual or otherwise seems fun, and being able to identify influencers and authenticate product is useful, does that usefulness justify the cost of implementation to retailers beyond the luxury sector? There's a rush to roll out in-store solutions, beacons and shopper tracking tools and it will be interesting to see which ones make it to market.

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