Clothing Hangers Go Interactive to Up-Sell Shoppers

Discussion
Oct 18, 2011
George Anderson

So here’s the deal: you enter a clothing store and begin looking through the racks. You find a sweater you like and lift the hanger off the hook for a better look. Up pops a digital screen behind the rack with recommendations for pants, sneakers or other items that might go well with your choice.

That’s exactly the type of thing a good salesperson would do, assuming there was one nearby to assist you. Good luck with that, right?

How’s it done? A radio frequency identification (RFID) chip is embedded in each hanger and, when the hanger is moved, the chip sends a message to a store computer controlling video displays around the stores. A men’s fashion store, 109, located in the Shibuya section of Tokyo, is testing the technology developed by a company called Team Lab.

Check out the short video of the system taken by CScout to see how it works.

Discussion Questions: What do you think of using RFID-triggering technology as a merchandising tool and sales enabler as reported in this story? Are RFID chips embedded in hangers an application with legs for clothing stores?

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20 Comments on "Clothing Hangers Go Interactive to Up-Sell Shoppers"


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Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
9 years 3 days ago
If it could be run off of RFID tags on the clothing, rather than a separate hanger, then I think it could have legs, though I understand why, from the video, the retailer above chose to implement it the way they did. My concerns are 1, latency – does the video of other options play quickly based on shopper interactions? 2, proximity – does the video play on a screen close enough that the shopper understands they are the ones that have triggered the action? In the example above, the screen seemed a little too high – it took the shopper a little while to figure out that he had triggered the screen, and he was basically demoing the technology. Plus, how do you really want the interaction to go? Do you want the shopper looking at the product or looking at the screen? He’s not going to buy the upsell items if he decides he doesn’t want one in his hand. And how will he find those other upsell items? 3, relevancy – are… Read more »
Bob Phibbs
Guest
9 years 3 days ago

Actually, no. I think a good salesperson would recommend the items once someone tried them on. This seems a little like a child saying, “Look at me, look at me” while you’re trying to shop — a distraction.

Focus; it’s what’s being compromised on the sales floor these days by technology.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
9 years 3 days ago

The concept of suggestive selling has been around since the first clerk asked, “You know what would look good with that?” We have seen it in every form of retail from, “Do you want fries with that?” to buy two and save.

It is a natural evolution that technology would begin to play a role in suggestive selling, especially as retailers look to control labor cost and still increase market baskets. One of our clients has a technology application that has been successfully deployed on banks, fast foods and c-stores in markets around the world that selects the most likely offer.

The issue I foresee in clothing is in getting the screens on the floor. The application demonstrated in the article works well on the walls where installing the screens is reasonably easy. Getting it done on a circular rack in the middle of the floor is another challenge.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
9 years 3 days ago

The video demonstration does not really make a clear connection between the piece of clothing on the hanger and the suggestions in the video. It just looks as though there is some kind of mechanism turning the video on, not that the video is unique to the clothing on the hanger; certainly the recommendation is not personalized for that shopper. This example makes the technology appear to be a novelty, not something useful.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
9 years 3 days ago

The basic premise seems to be to substitute technology for well-trained sales associates. Given the absence of the latter on most sales floors, this could be a viable alternative, although the complexity of the technology required to make it effective is daunting. For instance, does this system keep track of the in-stock of the recommended add-ons? I also wonder what the relative investment is for this versus adding more sales associates.

J. Peter Deeb
Guest
9 years 3 days ago

My jury is out on this merchandising tool. I think there are many people who will not like the intrusion on their shopping experience, particularly if the technology responds to every item that they pick out. Most shoppers do not pick up just one garment to look at or try on. The constant flashing of recommendations could get old fast. Let’s wait and see if I am wrong on this one.

Marge Laney
Guest
9 years 3 days ago

This is the way this technology should be used, NOT in the fitting room. Give the customer on the sales floor more options to build the wardrobe and bring them closer to committing to try-on and hopefully purchase. Busy stores on two/three coverage cannot expect their associates to be able to help wardrobe each customer; they just don’t have the time. Technology that shows the customer how to build a look by showing additional options acts as a silent salesperson. The sales associates can then use their time to drive customers to the fitting room and service them there where the buying decision is ultimately made.

Dr. Emmanuel Probst
Guest
Dr. Emmanuel Probst
9 years 3 days ago

While it seems that RFID is going to revolutionize retail (inventory, cash-wrap, LP…), I’m not sure that these interactive hangers will. To Nikki’s point, the screens are too high and I am not sure that the shopper will understand the link between the hanger and the screen. The bottom line is that RFID and other technologies will enable retailers to save time and money, but may not replace human interaction.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
9 years 3 days ago

RFID chips embedded in hangers look like they’re fun and entertaining — at least until the fun wears off, which should take about half a dozen tries. What’s attractive about this application is that it’s a unique way to merchandise product and initially engage the consumer. But when customers reach the checkout, the reason they’re buying isn’t because of cool RFID hangers. It’s because the clothes offer the fit, look, price and quality the customer seeks.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
9 years 3 days ago

When I shop a clothing rack and find something I like, my emotions are satisfied and that’s all I’m seeking. I realize I may not be in the majority pool but I don’t want RFID-triggering technology always getting in my face. Innovative technology, as great as it is, has become the science of arranging life in new ways that can be beyond our personal needs.

Hayes Minor
Guest
Hayes Minor
9 years 3 days ago

Nothing is a good substitute for personal one-on-one customer service, however, in certain cases this seems to make sense. Perhaps this makes sense in retail during peak times of the year when associates are extraordinarily busy. Or perhaps this might be a nice basket-builder in dressing rooms to help shoppers coordinate an article of clothing. That said, I’d be most interested in hearing how shoppers react to this overall, but more specifically where they give permission to retailers for this type of interaction.

Mark Price
Guest
Mark Price
9 years 3 days ago

RFID will become an exciting capability for retailers to make the customer experience more interactive in the future, although I am not sure that the hanger concept will be the one that sticks. Eventually, loyalty cards will have RFID embedded, which will permit salespeople to use information about the customer to personalize the shopping experience when appropriate. I believe that will be the “killer app” for RFID, if retailers can make sure it will not be “creepy.”

The hanger concept is innovative, but I am not sure how much it will clutter the store or make things confusing when either (1) customer pick up more than 1 item from the rack, or (2) more than 1 customer picks up an item.

But since experimentation is where great ideas come from, I am very glad to see this effort come to life.

Marie haines
Guest
9 years 3 days ago

Fun gadget the first few times, but where are the other items located? How does the shopper find them in the store? A well-merchandised store will have related items adjacent, if not on the same fixtures. And if you are just browsing the racks and don’t remove the hanger, the whole effect is lost.

Perhaps this could be better developed as an in-store feature that shoppers could use with or without a sales associate. Select a few items you are interested in and bring them to a kiosk where it would help you build an outfit, also directing shoppers to where in the store the item is located as well as in-stock and size availability.

You could also tie in some aspect of social networking by allowing other shoppers to kibbitz, watching and commenting, and maybe seeking out the same items.

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
9 years 3 days ago

Interrupting a customer while they’re considering an item is a poor idea.

Furthermore, consumers desire privacy. A screen telling all in the store that a customer just touched a hanger is a great way to ensure that customers don’t touch many hangers.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
9 years 3 days ago

Hello Minority Report! I like this type of up-sell technique, and anything that will build the basket is OK in my book. I just feel that all the electronic devices that customers are presented with at the store level are somewhat distracting and can take away from the buyer’s experience.

Mark Burr
Guest
9 years 3 days ago

I would consider it to be a huge distraction and annoyance. But, that’s just me. Just because a customer looks at something it doesn’t mean that they are even interested in it or anything else at that point. They might be just trying to see what it is because the rack is so jammed that they can’t tell without taking it out for a closer look.

There is a huge difference between triggering a browser and suggestive selling or up selling once a selection is made.

I hope the only legs they have are legs that walk right out the door and never walk into the stores where I shop. But, that’s just me.

Lee Peterson
Guest
9 years 3 days ago

Two words: Minority Report. I know it sounds odd, but sometimes, customers don’t want to be ‘sold’ to or worse, advertised to. So, I think it’s very risky. The last thing you want is an annoyed customer, and this could VERY easily do that — quick!

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
9 years 3 days ago

I think it’s great if only to increase production of RFID chips and bringing down the manufacturing cost per unit. But like other comments here, I see a dim future for this exact application. It might be helpful to men shopping alone but whose wives usually dress them. Other than that, we’ll see if it morphs into something more realistic and useful.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
9 years 3 days ago

Applications for RFID can be amazing, actually. However, global adoption remains prohibitive for now. I do see a role for RFID coming soon (less than ten years. Yes, that is soon). The technology must overcome the decades-old obstacles that have precluded its adoption, like readability, item-level cost, etc.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
9 years 3 days ago

I like RFID-triggered devices that inform sales people customers are looking at merchandise and can go over to TALK to the customer to give coordination and add-on purchase advice. Keep the gadgets to entertaining and providing features and benefits for self-service sales WHEN THE CUSTOMER WANTS IT! Make it easy for the customer to turn off.

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