Mannequins in UK using beacon technology to communicate with shoppers

In the newest development of the in-store shopping experience, retailers in the U.K. are developing mannequins that tell shoppers where to find the clothes they're wearing in the store.

The new "talking" mannequins communicate with customers by utilizing VMBeacon technology, which can send information to shoppers' smartphones as they pass by. The innovation was introduced by British retailer House of Fraser, and the beacon technology was designed to send information such as images, product details and pricing to customers, reported Marketing Week.

But the mannequins don't just talk at customers unsolicited. In order to receive merchandise details from a mannequin such as the ones at House of Fraser, customers must first download the VMBeacon app from technology and design company Iconeme.

Once downloaded, the mannequins send out a beacon alert 24 hours a day to anyone within 50 meters that has the app. And 50 meters means customers don't have to go into the store to get the information: All they have to do is pass a window display.

The alerts have sharing enabled so shoppers can send information transmitted to their phone to friends via social media, or save them to purchase later. The app also gives shoppers the option of purchasing directly from the online store in addition to providing offers and rewards.

But customers aren't the only ones gleaning immediate benefits from the program. Retailers also gain intelligence on the shoppers visiting the store with details such as age, gender, what and where they browsed, and whether a purchase was completed.

"We are always looking at ways to integrate new and innovative technology to help maximize customer shopping experiences," said Andy Harding, executive director of multichannel, House of Fraser. "With such demand for mobile devices it's important we continue to bring new technology to our stores."

House of Fraser isn't the only retailer using the mannequins to stimulate the shopping experience either. Haws and Curtis in London and Bentalls in Kingston upon Thames are also digging into the opportunities presented by the new technology. Iconeme reps say the service is a world first that will assist retailers in connecting online formats with brick-and-mortar.

The Iconeme app is available for free on iOS and Android, and the service is slated for a bigger rollout throughout the U.K. and into the U.S. in the near future.

For more:
-See this Marketing Week story

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