iBeacon-enabled mannequins come to House of Fraser stores

Adoption of iBeacon technology is growing at a phenomenal rate. These intriguing devices, first released only in 2013, function by emitting a low energy Bluetooth signal which triggers a reaction from nearby smartphones with an corresponding app. With possible uses cases ranging from enhancing the customer experience to conducting market research, it’s no surprise that more and more brands are starting to recognise their true potential.

House of Fraser has now joined a long list of retailers harnessing this technology including Waitrose, Hamleys, Armani, Longchamp and Hackett. While past attempts have often been limited to small stationary devices positioned throughout the shop, House of Fraser has found an innovative new way of targeting their customers in-store, by integrating iBeacons into their mannequins. These iBeacon-enabled mannequins will trigger notifications on the customers smartphone including information about the clothing items on display, price as well as where they can be found in-store. The service will also allow customers to share the product with friends through social media, save them for purchase later or buy direct from House of Fraser’s online store. Offers and rewards will also be accessible through this service.

On many occasions, I’ve been enticed by items displayed on in-store mannequins. But due to the time it takes to locate the various items in-store, I’ve often given up looking and moved on. We live in a time-poor society where customers’ expectations are high and their patience is low. Retailers that succeed in balancing the promotion and subsequent sale of their products with not alienating their customers through frequent and often frustrating notifications could find themselves with a winning combination. The key here is balance.

I could not wrap up this post without some reference to the implications this might have to the world of market research. Integrating iBeacons into the store in this way could provide a new way of conducting market research. Asking respondents questions reach particular points of the store could be a valuable way to gain in-the-moment insight on products, the customer journey as well as the in-store experience. Installing iBeacons within mannequins or other in-store displays could also feed into the product development cycle, providing retailers with an agile means of getting feedback on products so they can be iteratively improve features over time.